Emailing The Therapist

As I’ve mentioned recently, my schedule is about to become a total clusterfuck.

I actually only have two classes with two labs this session, but since we also have our first clinical affiliation coming up, we can only hold those classes on two days of the week. Thus, we have to fit twelve lecture and lab hours into two days. Wednesdays are reserved for affiliation seminar (whatever that means), studio hour (whatever that is), and Physical Therapy Club (of which I am the President).

Therefore, the yet to be assigned clinic hours will happen on the remaining weekdays. As I understand it, we will have clinic on Monday and/or Fridays and it could be all day or half the day – which could be either morning, afternoon, or evenings. And we don’t yet know where these clinics are, so my commute could be twenty minutes or two fucking hours. We have no idea.

I also have to go to physical therapy 2-3/week for the next six weeks to treat my own janky hip/leg/back/everything. And, of course, I have psychotherapy 3x/week. Plus yoga class and regular gym time. And there should probably be time to sleep, eat (meh), study and occasionally talk to my spouse and friends (social life? haha). Also, although I attempted to respectfully resign from my job in the Anatomy Study Hall, I was told that was “unacceptable” and that I need to give hours. Oh sure! No fucking problem.

Anyway. I explained all of this to the therapist last week because she’s trying to figure out her Fall schedule. I was really overwhelmed by the task of fitting my schedule with hers so I just kinda blew it off in session. She gently reminded me that she can absolutely be flexible and make three sessions work around my schedule, but she does need some advance notice.

On Tuesday I decided to pull it together and be a legit adult about this. I wrote down all of my known obligations for the next three weeks and created a schedule with all the times I am available versus unavailable. I thought this would be a really good way to help us put the jigsaw pieces together.

But then I remembered I wouldn’t see her until Friday and I wanted to get the schedule to her as soon as possible. I also thought it might be simpler if she just had a written copy of it. I then realized email might be a good option, but we’ve never had a conversation about email other than on the first day when she said she does not email with clients because she prefers to bring the material into session itself.

However, I stayed (somewhat) rational and decided I could just call and ask if it was okay to email her. So I did: I left a voicemail explaining that I thought it would be easier if we each had a written copy of my schedule so that she could match my availability with hers. I also reminded her that we’d never discussed email beyond her stating she “doesn’t email” so I was calling to ask her permission to do so.

She called back shortly thereafter, but I was standing on a noisy train platform so I let it go to voicemail. In her message, she said that she thought emailing her my schedule was a great idea. She explained that she does email, but primarily uses it for just this type of thing (“logistics” around things like schedules or payment). She left her email address (as if I don’t have it saved in my phone from when I originally emailed her back in December to set up a consult) and said that once she received my email, she’d come up with some possible session times and we could discuss it on Friday.

Sounded good to me, so I sent her the schedule later that afternoon.

On Thursday evening I checked my email and I saw that she had emailed me back. My heart absolutely stopped in my chest. I don’t even know what I was thinking. Possibly nothing – I think I was reacting on a more visceral, emotional level to the email itself. Emailing and texting Zooey outside of session hours totally blew up in my face and it started just like this – I emailed her about scheduling, insurance, etc. Small things. But then the emails became more serious and more frequent and then, ultimately, too inconvenient/overwhelming for her.

I don’t envision that happening with this therapist, primarily because she is so solid and clear with boundaries. But, also, I learned a lot from that experience with Zooey and as I spend more time with this therapist, I’m beginning to understand the ways I also prefer to talk about things in within the therapeutic space itself.

Still, it was intensely activating to get that email. Especially since she said we would just talk about in in session on Friday. I thought back to the last email I received from Zooey as her client (where she set up the joint session with my wife so she could terminate my treatment) and just got stuck in that panicked space.

I took a deep breath and reminded myself for the thousandth time that this is not Zooey. I opened the email and saw this:

Hi Andi –
Here are my proposed session times – we can talk more about it tomorrow, but thought it might be helpful to have it in writing.
Therapist
Then she listed nine possible session times to cover the next three weeks, ALL of which fit perfectly with my crazy-ass schedule. I was blown away. She responded to me so quickly and professionally. I was impressed and I felt very taken care of. It’s such a small thing, but it demonstrates how seriously she takes her job. I know that she believes it would be unnecessarily disruptive for me to transition back and forth between session frequencies from week to week, so she prioritized getting me on her schedule at our normal rate. I sincerely appreciate that.
Like all others before her, this therapist says a lot of pretty words. But, unlike her predecessors, those words actually mean something because her actions reflect them. She doesn’t just regurgitate what she’s been told to say or what she thinks she should say – she actually lives her words everyday through her work and her behavior.

She talks the talk and walks the walk.

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31 thoughts on “Emailing The Therapist

  1. Sirena says:

    Holy Crap, I have no idea how you even begin with a schedule like that! I am really glad that you are able to keep your 3 sessions per week, I think you’ll need that time more than ever with all that stuff going on.
    I totally get the fear of email and of slipping into the danger zone and repeating old patterns, amazing how something as simple as one email can have us in a panic! But your therapist seems very good with her boundaries and you’ve learned new things about yourself too since Zooey and you and this new therapist isn’t you and zooey, it’s a whole new creation and it doesn’t have to follow the same path. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Andi says:

      Haha, right? It’s totally nuts. But I agree – it will be more important than ever to have support and a space to hold the tough stuff while juggling all of these other responsibilities.
      It is a bit scary to feel like I’m close to slipping into old patterns. But I agree that this therapist has much better (and clearer) boundaries and I think that makes all the difference 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. CassandCo says:

    I’m glad your therapist is working with you to cope with your schedule. When do you have time to talk to your parts if you’re quite busy? When I worked I would talk to them on the train in the morning and evening but since beginning full on therapy I’ve cut back on work in order to dedicate myself to therapy. Do you find it hard to balance both or does the busy-ness help you?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Andi says:

      I sneak time whenever I can. I pull a lot of time from stolen moments. Such as when we have lunch break at school – many of my classmates hang out and eat together. Due to my ED, I struggle to do that so I eat alone. But it affords me the chance to do an internal check-in. Same as during commutes. It’s a learning process for sure. I struggle to find balance but therapy honestly is always the first priority.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Rachel says:

    I totally relate, reading this, to that unconscious visceral reaction you had to seeing her email in your inbox – I’ve had similar reactions to receiving emails from my therapist. That feeling and the thoughts of “what will she say? What does this mean? Is this good? Bad? Why am I having such a strong reaction?” Reading into each word, worrying about the words and meanings. I like how she talks to you about the emails, and outside contact in general. She is professional and conducts herself as such. Which, you wouldn’t think would be much to ask for, but it really can be hard to find when working with trauma-related issues. Nice work, very happy to read this.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Andi says:

      I completely agree. One of the issues I’ve run into with previous clinicians is their inability to talk about these things with me, even when I tried (repeatedly) to bring the topic into session. I don’t know if they were uncomfortable or just found it irrelevant, but I think a dialogue would have gone a long way. It is not lost on me that she’s able to hold this conversation with me and acknowledge even the things that otherwise seem insignificant (because let’s face it, they’re a big damn deal to me!). Thanks 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

      • Rachel says:

        They ARE a big deal! And I’m glad you’re tending to them. Do you remember the DBT skill in Interpersonal Effectiveness of ‘don’t let small hurts build up?’ This reminds me of that, in that if these seemingly small anxiety-producing moments aren’t brought to light and addressed quickly, they really can cause a snowball effect. In summary, I think you are being so skillful and it inspires me.

        Liked by 1 person

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