Supportive-expressive interventions in working through treatment termination

Aviv Nof, Liat Leibovich, Sigal Zilcha-Mano

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Supportive- expressive (SE) psychodynamic treatment has been receiving much empirical support. It is based on conceptualizing and working through the patients' Core Conflictual Relationship Theme, which includes their main wish (W) in the context of an interpersonal relationship, an actual or anticipated subjective response from the other (RO) in relation to the W, and the subsequent emotional and behavioral response from the self (RS) to the RO. Studies suggest that the RO and RS components show the greatest change as a result of effective SE treatment. Clinical experience, however, suggests that in the last phase of treatment, when termination is anticipated, at least some patients regress to their original RS. This process is part of a separation conflict, which includes unconsciously renouncing their RS gains. In the present article we make recommendations regarding the timing and manner of initiating the termination discussion (the "clock-like reminder" and the "symbolic listening to termination cues"), integrating both supportive and expressive techniques. The article contains practice-based guidelines on how to work through the potential RS regression. We pay specific attention to what to do and not to do in the very last session and use examples from the pilot phase of a randomized controlled trial to demonstrate each recommended technique. Lastly, we suggest paths for future research to examine the proposed framework for working through termination.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)29-36
Number of pages8
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Mar 2017

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 American Psychological Association.


  • CCRT
  • Regression in RS
  • Separation individuation
  • Termination

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Clinical Psychology


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