Tuesday Therapy Notes: Transfers of Care

Welcome to Tuesday Therapy Notes, the weekly series that examines types of therapies and common issues associated with them. This week, we are talking about transfers of care.

Transfers of care occur when a therapist transfers treatment of a patient to another therapist. This can occur for a number of reasons. Perhaps the client feels they have reached their goals, perhaps they are having financial issues, or perhaps they no longer feel like working with their current therapist. Or maybe the therapist is retiring, taking a medical leave of absence, or is moving to a different practice or a different location.

And research suggests this can be a major bump in the road. One study reported that 69 percent of individuals dropped out of therapy following a transfer. The isn’t necessarily surprising when you think about the fact that the transfer can lead to feelings of grief, abandonment, and loss for the client, and maybe this prevents them from continuing to engage with a new therapist.

And as I write this, it is something my therapist is in the process of setting up, because she is taking a medical leave of absence. In my case, I recognize that the therapist has her own life that sometimes takes priority, and as much as I like my therapist, being realistic about that helps me avoid any feelings of loss, even if it is a bit sad to be losing her because she has done such good work. In my case, I’ve decided to find a new therapist rather than work with the psychologist who will be covering my therapist’s patients during her leave of absence.

However, having seen issues with transfers of care from both sides, both as a patient and in my role as a recovery support specialist, I’ve seen that there can be steps that are taken to improve the process. One, recognize your feelings about losing your last therapist, your feelings about the therapy in general, and be mindful of how those feelings might be interfering with your new therapist. This includes being mindful of your personal history and feelings towards loss and abandonment. Second, be able and willing to talk with your new therapist about how things went in your previous therapeutic relationship. And lastly, periodically check in with yourself and your new therapist about how things are going.

Change can be very difficult for some people. And when it comes to something like therapy, it can be very disruptive towards the recovery process. Hopefully, this post will help you navigate the change that comes if you find yourself facing a transfer of care. And as always, thanks for reading.

Source: Working with Transfer Clients

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