In my previous post, ‘The importance of saying goodbye‘, I talked about the fact that in order to be able to feel that one has had a ‘good ending’, it is important to have the opportunity to say goodbye. In writing it, I drew on my experience both of loss through death (in which I did not experience ‘good endings’), and the loss of a therapy relationship (which though untimely, was ultimately a positive experience).
I wanted to share with you this post by Dr Ryan Howes (who used to write the ‘In Therapy’ blog for Psychology Today) called ‘4 Reasons not to ghost your therapist‘. As he explains, ghosting “is when someone in a close relationship suddenly disappears, like an avoidant apparition. They’re there one day, everything seems to be going fine, and then they disappear——they’ve ghosted.” Although it may be tempting to do that in therapy (and Ryan Howes explains why), in reality this benefits neither the client nor the therapist.
I’ve read a few similar articles on this subject, and readers who have been in therapy often comment that the client is under no obligation to give the therapist feedback or enable them to be a ‘better therapist’. This post acknowledges that that is true, while at the same pointing out that there are all sorts of spheres of life where we give feedback not so much to benefit ourselves, but to benefit others (both the therapist and their future clients, in this case). Giving feedback about one’s therapy experience is much more emotive (and therefore much more difficult) than alerting a restaurant to poor service; but it is correspondingly more important and we shouldn’t discount the value of such an exercise purely on the basis that we have the right to leave without explaining why.
Ultimately, a key reason not to ‘ghost’ is that, as Ryan Howes explains, we “don’t have enough good endings in life” – and good endings are possible. By ghosting, we could be denying ourselves the chance of such an ending, and the healing it can bring. As the article says at the end: “More important for you is the loss of a clean, good ending—a missed opportunity to express yourself. You lose a chance to dive into material that may be difficult, but ultimately beneficial for you.” Ghosting may feel easier at the time, but it may come at a longer-term cost, whether conscious or unconscious, and it represents a missed opportunity for personal growth. And as Ryan Howes says, “That’s why you chose to come to therapy in the first place, isn’t it?”