A little while ago I got this question from one of you:
“One thing I have been struggling with is clients who I feel like I’m making great progress with, only to ghost me soon after. They never come back and leave no reason why they stopped therapy. I know this is something common within our profession, but something that doesn’t really get spoken about. “
And you’re absolutely right. This is common as a therapist, and I think early on it can be confusing and disheartening to experience this.
We invest a lot in our clients. We want the best for them. When they start making progress and digging into the work it’s exciting to see them grow but also validating that maybe we’re doing something right.
So, it’s only natural to wonder why they disappear or to even feel sadness about a sudden departure.
That’s what loss does.
But what can we do with this?
How can we learn from it or integrate these difficult experiences into our own development both professionally and personally?
Well, I asked my Twitter friends again for their perspective and they had some insightful and helpful things to say.
What I really appreciate about Elizabeth’s perspective is the balanced approach.
Sometimes our client’s leave because of something we did and said. We need to have the humility and discernment to step back and acknowledge when that’s the case.
Also, though, we need to acknowledge that the nature of our work is often difficult for our clients even though it is in the name of growth and healing.
And sometimes that’s just too much.
We often only see a part of our client’s journey to freedom and healing. And I think what Jonah is touching on here is that from our clients’ perspective, they are here to feel better. And once they do, even if more work can be done, they may feel ready and compelled to move on.
Maybe they’ll show up again in the future and you can explore deeper work together. Or maybe they’ll find someone else to work with.
The point being, it is not our responsibility to make sure our clients do as much of the work as possible. It’s okay that they make some progress and move on.
Lastly, I would say that if you are having a really challenging time with clients ghosting you, this is a wonderful opportunity for your own work.
Give yourself time to feel whatever is coming up for you, be curious and gentle with it, and bring it to your own therapy and supervision. Maybe you have similar tendencies in your own therapy or relationships? Or maybe you’ve been hurt by someone who ghosted you?
Whatever it is, this is the kind of ongoing work we all do and will continue to do indefinitely. Just like our clients, we are always on the path of becoming.
And it’s good to get comfortable with never finally arriving, to be compassionate with both our clients and ourselves wherever we are along the way.
If you’d like to peruse the other responses, you can find them here: