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Ask Marilyn: This Week's 'Strictly Personal' Question
Steve M. In Plymouth, Michigan, writes:
Marilyn: I have a question about ending conversations with my therapist. I was seeing a therapist in New York for about a year when I then moved to another state. I have continued my treatment with this therapist over the phone, but the end of our conversations are always awkward. He always wraps up the meeting with a few suggestions for the following week and tells me how he feels about my progress. From experience, I have learned that this my cue for a short response and then to say goodbye. But if instead of actually saying "goodbye," I wait a moment for him to say goodbye first, he doesn't like it. It seems as though he wants to say goodbye last so he's the one who ends the conversation. What do you make of this?
I think he's probably just continuing the practice he follows for office visits. He sums up the meeting, you reply with a few polite words, stand up, and say goodbye. He stands at the same time, and says goodbye, too, maybe with a handshake. If instead, you remained sitting, and he stood up or said goodbye first, it would look like he's telling you to leave.
In short, when the therapist wraps things up, you know that it's time to end the call, so you take the initiative to say a few polite words ending with a goodbye, and he accepts by saying goodbye to you, too.