Negative Feelings about Termination

Therapists should move confidentlytoward the termination task, which must include both positive and negative dimensions of the group’s ending. A hesitant or apologetic therapist stance will impede constructive termination. Encouraging members to verbalize negative feelings limits the potential for members to “bury” these feelings

as a resentful residue of the therapeutic experience. The therapist should normalize the sense of loss group members experience, emphasizing that such feelings are typical in preparing for separation from the group and not indicative of depression. Helping members to learn to work through these feelings will allow each member to develop a sense of mastery over his or her fears.

A Potential Time for Grief

As the group nears conclusion, and sometimes well before that, members may develop anxiety about saying goodbye to each other and “going it alone.” Since termination ends the connection to other group members and the therapist, it has a theme of loss, an analogue of grief. It is important to state explicitly the possibility of experiencing normal grief-related symptoms, as unacknowledged “grieving” may lead to fears of relapse and an increase in symptoms.

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