Patient ghosting in therapy does happen.
Ghosting, what ghost?
In the context of relationships, including therapist-patient relationship, the word “ghost” (verb) is defined as …
“To end a personal relationship with someone suddenly by stopping all communication with them.”
Patient ghosting in therapy is disrespect. Impolite. I’ll-mannered. It reflects unfavorably on the patient or person ghosting.
Sam Finch, in Healthline, writes:
“Because ghosting, however quiet it might have felt for you, actually holds a lot of information for you and your therapist to sift through. Is this “bailing” behavior common for the intimate relationships in your life? Was there a particular trigger that prompted you to end the relationship, or a topic you started to touch on that you weren’t ready to dig into? What discomfort were you looking to avoid in skipping that conversation?“
A patient, Menti, shares about her experience of ghosting therapists in a psychotherapy network forum.
“I have ghosted therapists before. It’s not to do with the therapist and entirely to do with me. Some days I can’t get out of bed, let alone keep an appointment. My guilt and anxiety about keeping the appointment eats away at me so I will avoid the sessions until I stop scheduling them. It’s a horrible, stupid cycle.”
Continuing, Menti explains further:
“I think it’s simply my anxiety and struggling with communicating/being assertive due to an abusive upbringing. I find it hard to just call up and be honest about why I haven’t come in. I fear being told off or thought poorly of. I’m a grown woman but it’s something I struggle with still.”
Menti’s reasons for her ghosting are of course just among several possibilities.
Very common too are financial scarcity, medical treatment, family factors, or the pain of the process can be too much to bear for the patient.
I always feel sad when a patient ghosts me and doesn’t return to therapy. Especially when we’re having promising gains during sessions.
Their premature termination is no reason for me to stop caring or having interest in their recovery.
I offer a termination session without charge. And patients can always contact me in the future if they’ve any questions or concerns.