Consolidation rather than termination: Rethinking how psychologists label the final phase of psychological treatment

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Professional Psychology: Research and Practice

Some clinicians and theorists have noted that termination is an ill-advised choice for labeling and potentially conceptualizing the final, but critical phase of psychotherapy. The adoption of termination is believed to have been due, at least in part, to a 1930s mistranslation of Freud's original writings (e.g., Schlesinger, 2005). The purpose of this article is to discuss potential implications and contemporary limitations associated with the label, termination, and explicitly conceptualize an active, strengths-based approach to ending psychotherapy. Current areas of concern include the negatively valenced label and the seemingly absent tenor of positive collaboration despite previous efforts to formalize more productive psychotherapy endings. Consolidation is presented as preferred, novel terminology given its coherence with the aims of ending psychotherapy, utilizing a strengths-based approach, and also with current therapeutic paradigms. The process of ending psychotherapy typically involves solidifying improvements made over the course of psychotherapy and reorienting clients to life outside of formal psychotherapy—a consolidation conceptualization. We posit that the nature of this ending begins with careful language that appropriately captures this phase of treatment and that drives how psychotherapists collaborate with clients and patients to maximize clinical outcomes.

Psychotherapy, Terminology, Termination, Consolidation
Copyright 2014 Professional Psychology: Research and Practice. This is a post-print, peer-reviewed version of a published paper that is available at: Recommended citation: Maples, Jessica L., and Rheeda L. Walker. "Consolidation rather than termination: Rethinking how psychologists label and conceptualize the final phase of psychological treatment." Professional psychology: Research and practice 45, no. 2 (2014): 104. DOI: 10.1037/a0036250. This item has been deposited in accordance with publisher copyright and licensing terms and with the author’s permission.