Walking Out–Please Advise

11 Apr

The good news about being a new therapist is that I have a new experience every day. The bad news is…I have a new experience every day.

That was certainly the case during a therapy session the other morning. I was counseling a family that consisted of a Mom with two teenage daughters when the tension got pretty high. Well, in a flash, one of the daughters got up and left the room in quite the huff. Of course, this isn’t news–in therapy (and mediation) people get frustrated and walk out all the time. The difference is–this was MY first time dealing with this.

Man SteamWe all know that in therapy–and mediation–the tension can get pretty high, and that’s certainly the case when it comes to counseling or mediating families. It’s one thing to facilitate communication when it’s “just business,” but quite another when emotions/history/intimacy come into play. So, especially during a family mediation, the tension may be too much to bear. So, one party may get up and leave (to cool off, make a call, cry, etc.). The question is–how should we react? I’d love some feedback here, as, during my therapy session, I simply explained that she was feeling frustrated and, perhaps, felt ganged-up on. We continued with our session with just Mom and one daughter and tried to process what just happened. Was that the right move? I don’t know. And, what if that happens in mediation? Do we follow? Halt the mediation? If we wait for the party to return, how long do we wait?

I’m guessing here, but it seems that each case may be different. In a business mediation, perhaps I wait. In a family mediation, perhaps another family member follows.

No matter what, I suspect this won’t be the last time I watch someone in therapy or mediation walk out on the process. And, I suspect it won’t be the last time I wonder what to do.



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