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    if-the-stars-align
    Participant

    If my therapist went away on vacation and told me beforehand that I should keep her in the loop via email, and she will take the time to respond – and I did that but she hasn’t responded (its been a week) – how should I feel? And also, what should I do or say?

    I don’t feel like reaching out again or going to my next appointment. I also know she definitely wasn’t ill-intentioned or trying to hurt me – as we have a long history together – but I am feeling rotten about it.

    I hate confrontations. I don’t know what to do….

     

    /m/

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    melissa
    Participant

    ITSA, this is the worst scenario ever. I would feel like rolling into a ball and never going to therapy again.

    It would evoke every one of my insecurities (and I have so many) about therapy, about how much patience my therapist has for me…. about how I’m just an inconvenient part of her “work.”

    I’m so sorry you’re going through this! I have no advice, only hugs!

    Hi if-the-stars-align,

    First of all, I want to validate how difficult this kind of scenario can be. A teacher of mine once said, “it feels hard because it is hard”. So true. I’m sending some compassion your way………

    I appreciate how, even while you express your hurt, you can take perspective and allow yourself to notice that this action (or lack of) was not malicious at all. This ability to express hurt and focus on the possibility that someone did not mean to hurt you will prove helpful to you in the exercise below.

    Here are a few of my thoughts on how to deal with this.

    1. Your first step is to name your feelings around this issue. Marshall Rosenberg used to say – “Feelings are always valid. Strategies….not so much. ” What do I mean by that? Your feelings about your therapist not answering your email need to be named in orders to start the healing process. What are they? Are you hurt? Rejected? Resentful? Angry? Naming the feelings about the actual absence of a response is your first step.
    2. Secondly, rate your feelings on a scale from 1-10, 10 being the highest of discomfort. Try not to overthink this – no need to get it perfect 😉 What is the intensity of the feeling? From an EMDR perspective, feelings that rate over a 5 are ‘heated up’ or are kindled because of the present situation AND feeder memories from the past that are bleeding through into present day. You know your history best. Has this type of thing happened before, either with someone else or this present therapist? How did you feel? What was the outcome? Becoming aware of how this difficult situation may be representing something in your past can be helpful in lowering the hurt of the present. It may look like a verbal bridge that goes something like this: I can totally understand myself in this situation and how not being answered by a therapist I care about makes me feel ________. AND, given my history with (fill-in the blank), that  memory makes the present so much worse.
    3. See if you can journal about what you’ve discovered about yourself before you see your therapist next time. Perhaps you will feel that you’d like to write what you’ve discovered about yourself or the pain that you felt in a letter and give it to her next session. Regardless of how you communicate your feelings, remember that you are worthy of talking about your feelings and being heard. I am sincerely hopeful that your therapist will hear you and repair this rupture together.

    On a personal note, I can tell you that I once went on vacation on a Thursday evening and was scheduled to be back the following Sunday morning. On Friday morning, a client had sent me an email that she had wanted me to respond to. I normally respond pretty quickly, but unfortunately, I took the vaccine on Friday and had a life-threatening reaction that took me over a week to recover from.  My client did not give me the chance to tell her what happened and sent me an email stating how upset she was that I did not return her email and terminated services. She was so hurt, she asked me not to respond to her.  So I never had a chance to meet with her and tell her that she wasn’t ignored – I was simply too sick to respond.

    Life happens and emergencies happen. If you talk to your therapist about it, you may find that most likely, it was nothing personal at all. It will strengthen your muscle of resiliency and autonomy to advocate for yourself and speak to a safe, caring person about something that’s troubling you – in real time.

    wishing you all the best and Hatzlacha with this,

    Zipa Leah

     

     

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    Climber
    Participant

    “how should I feel? And also, what should I do or say?”

    You should feel what you are feeling, whatever it is. Without edits. If you trust your therapist as a professional (meaning even if you currently feel rejected and hurt and not trusting) and can try to create the mental distance to judge whether you trust she will help you through with this, then staying true to how you feel and expressing what you are feeling will probably get the two of you through the rupture in the most reparative way. I think. From my humble experience as a client…

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