Termination: Legal and ethical considerations for marriage and family therapists

Damon L. Rappleyea, Steven M. Harris, Mark White, Kimberly Simon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Every Marriage and Family Therapist (MFT) must carefully plan how to initiate, convene, and terminate therapy. Determining how to ethically terminate therapy in a variety of therapeutic contexts can be challenging. Though termination is a common aspect of all therapeutic relationships, a lack of empirically based information on how to terminate therapy leaves practitioners alone in determining how best to end the treatment relationship. Furthermore, the subject of termination is discussed so scarcely in MFT literature that few authors have attempted to establish a standard for ethical termination. In the current climate of evidence-based services, predetermined session limits, and increased litigation for malpractice, MFTs must examine their termination procedures. This paper identifies the current available literature on termination and discusses the ethical and legal considerations for practicing MFTs as outlined by the AAMFT Code of Ethics (2004). Directions and suggested methods for future research are set forth.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)12-27
Number of pages16
JournalAmerican Journal of Family Therapy
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2009


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