Q. I am in therapy currently for issues stemming from my past childhood abuse, physical, emotional, and sexual, and current issues of self-harm and relational difficulties. I also have problems with anxiety. Currently I see my therapist one hour per week. I have been in therapy now for 5 months. For three of these months, I also contact my therapist via email in between sessions. Sometimes my therapist replies back via email or sometimes we just discuss it in session. I feel a great amount of guilt for communicating to her when I am not in session because I feel that she is giving too much of herself and I am not worth it. She has brought up before that she would like to also call me in between sessions. I told her no at first, because I think I would feel guilty about this. Again she brought it up because she feels it would be helpful in curbing the self harm. Do I have a legitimate concern regarding this, or should I accept the offer of additional help throughout the week? I am afraid that by offering me all of this my therapist will suffer burnout and would then not be able to help me at all. So that is probably an abandonment issue that I am scared of, but I think any advice on the issue would be very helpful. Thank you very much.
A. To give you a straightforward answer, your concerns are probably not rational and most likely stem from your own issues related to abandonment and abuse. From your perspective you may feel that are a bother or a burden to your therapist. You may feel that if you talk to her too often she will grow tired of you or that you will “wear out your welcome.” This type of thinking is not uncommon among those people who have been abandoned and abused.
Your therapist, via her behavior (i.e. her e-mailing, calling out of sessions, etc.) is showing you that she is not tired of you and that you are not an annoyance to her. She is trying to help you. She is probably modeling for you what a nonabusive, “normal,” healthy relationship is like. From my perspective, it seems like you have found a good therapist who is reaching out to you. Please recognize that you are deserving of good help and with this therapist you may have found it. Don’t miss this opportunity. Take her help.
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 8 Sep 2008
Randle, K. (2008). Contact With Therapist Between Sessions. Psych Central. Retrieved on March 12, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2008/09/08/contact-with-therapist-between-sessions/