Origami Cranes and the Termination of Psychotherapy

by Lucy Holtzman, mps/atr-bc/lcat
(Brooklyn, NY)

Ending a therapeutic relationship is difficult: both for me, the therapist, and for my clients. Obviously, it's great when someone no longer needs to be in therapy. But sometimes the relationship ends because I'm moving on to a new position, or the patient might be moving out of town, or any number of other life changes that make it impossible for us to continue meeting. In any event, termination of therapy is a time of mixed emotions, especially after sharing so many of life's intimate details and feelings. And, going off into the unknown (life without therapy) is often a bit scary for most of us.

For the past few years, I've used origami cranes to help ease this transition. Calling on the Japanese tradition of Senbazuru and its legend that folding one thousand paper cranes will bring the fulfillment of a wish, I add my own personal twist.

Whenever a patient leaves my care, I make him/her a paper crane, choosing from the most beautiful origami papers in my collection. When we meet for our final session, I explain Senbazuru and share that while it's quite clear that neither one of us has folded the requisite thousand paper cranes, I give the crane that I've folded with my most fervent wishes for the client's future happiness, health, and peace of mind.

In a profession where the exchange of personal gifts is frowned upon, the presentation of a beautiful origami crane allows me to give my client something simple from my heart to take with them.

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Dec 19, 2011
by: sam


Aug 23, 2011
Origami in counseling
by: Anonymous

Thank you for sharing your tradition for helping clients transition out of a therapeutic relationship. I find origami very helpful as a therapeutic tool as well. I usually have some origami figures on my desk. Often when a client is resistant to engaging I will offer to teach them how to make something. While we are folding I am able to ask difficult questions and get the answers I need to begin working. I often use origami as a behavioral reward, and as a celebration activity, and as a relaxation activity for artistic people with high anxiety. Most of my clients are teens and their families. Sometimes I will teach a teen how to make something and then challenge them to teach their parent, a sibling, or a friend, depending on their situation. Origami can make counseling fun and less stressful.

Aug 23, 2011
New Year and Paper Crane
by: Sarah Hague

I'd just started making origami, and always carried one or two paper cranes with me where
ever I went! It was early morning on
New Years Day 2011, and I was coming home
from a New Year celebration on the bus....I
started to look through a book on origami I
had with me at the time....I had a crane tucked
inside it, and brought it out....Suddenly I
heard a voice call over....'Hey did you make
that bird?' 'Yes, I said, I'm learning! - Would
you like one?' 'Oh Yes, thanks!', he said...
I gave him the crane...showing him how to make
the wings flap, and we both laughed, and said
'Happy New Year', before I got off at my stop...!
(Origami can have a strange way of bringing
people together and adding humour!!) Sarah x

Aug 18, 2011
by: Robyn, Origami-Fun.com

That is such a beautiful way to make a difficult moment special! thankyou, Lucy. I bet there are many people out there who could find inspiration in that act of giving :)

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