The final phase of psychotherapeutic group work is the most difficult one for every participant, as well as for a therapist. Once the therapy comes to an end, such issues as anxiety and uncertainty about the future might arise due to the role of the group in every patient’s recovery process. It is vital to be prepared for the termination stage and tie it back to every previous step. In the closed type of group where the termination date is chosen on the initial phases, the ending of sessions is the common experience for all the participants.
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Also, a therapist should be skilled to work on his or her personal feelings toward the end of the sessions to be able to help the patients to resolve their issues. Thus, it is crucial to consider specific interventions to assist the group members during the last meeting of the termination stage, evaluate the group, and provide follow-up support after the therapy is completed to enhance treatment results.
The effective termination is a key point in the overall group therapy. This phase summarizes all the activities, their effects, and the things that the participants have learned during the group sessions. That is why the effectiveness of the therapy, in general, depends on the success of this phase (Donovan, 1988). The main task that has to be completed during the final stage of group interventions is to “assist members in the transferring what they have learned in the group to their outside environments” (Corey, 2015, p. 108). Thus, at this point, the patients realize their independence from the group leader and accept themselves as mature and confident individuals who are capable of dealing with their issues on their own.
As a group leader, I would think about the up-coming consolidation stage in advance, gradually preparing myself and the patients to the ending. Indeed, according to Corey (2015), it is “essential that termination issues be brought up earlier” in the group’s development (p. 108). Therefore, I will be ready to deal with the issues of anxiety or insecurity that the group members might experience. To succeed at this activity, I will connect the termination related discussions to the experiences that the patients gained earlier during the group meetings, as well as project them on the real world situations where a patient will have to deal with problems individually.
Moreover, apart from the feelings related to the ending of the sessions, there can be unresolved businesses left which will have to be addressed before leaving (Corey, 2015). Consequently, I will terminate the group therapy by initiating specific interventions aimed at dealing with feelings and completing the unfinished tasks. Accurate application of these interventions to practice will produce favorable outcomes for each group member and encourage them for fearless life outside the therapy environment.
Interventions During Termination Stage
The interventions that I will apply to the termination of the group sessions will include group discussions with reflection on the feelings, both positive and negative, related to the ending of the meetings and the collective talk about the unresolved issues of particular patients. First of all, a therapist will only be ready to terminate the group effectively if he or she can deal with his or her feelings. That is why I as a leader might encounter a challenge of acceptance of the therapy end which might be accompanied by “general loss of interest, enthusiasm, and reward” (Roe, Dekel, Harel, Fennig, & Fennig, 2006, p. 69).
I will address this issue by recollecting the positive results of the group work, noting some specific examples of the changes that I will have observed during the interventions. During the termination meetings, I will apply the therapist’s transparency method to articulate “openness on group process and outcome” (Donovan, 1988, p. 46). Being honest with my patients I will succeed in the following managing of their reflections; thus the effectiveness of termination will be possible to reach.
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The patients’ problems that might occur during the termination could concern the resistance of the clients to accept the fact of their independence and the lack of belief in their inner capability to withstand the difficulties on their own. It is relevant to emphasize that the patients still have each other as friends who can support them even outside the therapy meetings. This can help eliminate the negative feelings of insecurity. (Cupractice, 2011).
The patients might express their regret for not having “worked harder” during the sessions that imposes fear about the future (Roe et al., 2006, p. 69). To remove this feeling, I would elicit positive emotions of joy and pride emphasizing the achievements of each challenging member rather than their failures or vulnerabilities. When resolving uncompleted issues, I would underline the results the patients have already achieved to ensure that they can manage the problems individually. Also, I would initiate writing a plan of actions for the patients to use in need (Corey, 2015). The ultimate goal of the listed interventions is to ensure that all the patients leave the therapy with a feeling of accomplishment and well-being.
Evaluation of the Group
The way the participants and the leader terminate the group psychotherapy reflects the ways how they will interpret the overall outcomes of the intervention. During the final stage of group development, I will retrieve feedback from each group member to evaluate the group (Corey, 2015). For this feedback, I will ask each patient to share his or her thoughts and feelings about the achievement of particular goals set at the beginning of therapeutic interventions.
I will also ask about the drawbacks or vulnerabilities the patients experience by the end of the treatment process and what they would like to work on. This evaluation information will contribute to the analysis of the results gained upon therapy completion and will allow me to construct appropriate follow-up procedures.
Due to the feelings of anxiety and regret due to not having work hard enough during the sessions, I will be able to encourage the patients to continue working on their issues. For the follow-up interventions, I will initiate additional meetings in the group for managing and controlling the independent resolution of problems related to depression (Corey, 2015). I will also emphasize the importance of keeping the notes in a journal after termination to ensure thoughtful analysis of the feelings the patients might experience (Cupractice, 2011).
Overall, the awareness that there will be the possibility to meet the group members and have their support will foster the members’ desire to continue solving their psychological problems and improve the skills they have learned during the therapy sessions.
To sum up, the effectiveness of the termination phase reflects the effectiveness of the overall group psychotherapy. The leader should prepare the members for the parting stage in advance and be able to resolve such issues as anxiety, feelings of loss and vulnerability that both patients and a leader might encounter. To eliminate these feelings and ensure the resolution of unfinished tasks, a leader has to be transparent about his or her feelings to be able to maintain reflective feedback from the clients.
To ensure the effectiveness of group therapy, it is necessary to elicit constructive feedback for the introduction of the follow-up procedures. Such interventions as additional group meetings, journal writing, and action plan constructing will contribute to the efficient follow-up.
Corey, G. (2015). Theory and practice of group counseling (9th ed.). Boston, MA: Cengage Learning.
Cupractice. (2011). Group 1 ending stage. Web.
Donovan, A. (1988). Transparency and termination in group psychotherapy: A resident’s perspective. Jefferson Journal of Psychiatry, 6(2), 46-53.
Roe, D., Dekel, R., Harel, G., Fennig, S., & Fennig, S. (2006). Clients’ feelings during termination of psychodynamically oriented psychotherapy. Bulletin of the Menninger Clinic, 70(1), 68-81.