Therapist Is in Poor Physical Health

By Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW


I’ve been seeing a therapist for about two years now. I absolutely trust this person and very recently I have opened up about trauma issues and flashbacks. The trouble is that my therapist has MS and rheumatoid arthritis. Last year she was out of the office a lot because of health issues and she has again relapsed.

I am so afraid of losing her and I do not want to start over with someone else especially since it took about a year and a half to start opening up about the traumas in my life. I’m afraid I’m losing my mind. Whenever she has to cancel I cry, not only because I love her as a person, but because I need her so badly. She reassures me that she is okay, but I’m not seeing that. Her movements have become very stiff and she constantly has a cough or a cold. I’ve never known anyone to be so sick so often. I try to be flexible for her whenever she has to reschedule, but she’s cancelled again. Sometimes she’ll be out for more than one week at a time. I see her twice a week so whenever she’s out it is very difficult for me.

She’s very good about touching base on the phone when she can, but its not the same as face to face. She says I can call anytime, but I worry about calling her because I’m afraid she needs rest because she’s sick and the most difficult times for me are at night.

How can I better deal with things when she’s out? I’m afraid I’m not coping very well and I have a constant fear that she’s going die. I feel so stupid for having such anxiety when she reassures me that she’s getting better. I just need her so much and she’s helped me tremendously. I’ve made so much progress within the past two years, but I have so much farther to go, especially since we are dealing with the real issues behind my eating disorder.
What can I do to better cope with her being sick?
Thanks.

A. I understand that you do not want to switch therapists. It would mean starting over with someone new. This is a common concern among psychotherapy clients. I also recognize the fact that you like your therapist and simply don’t want another one at this time. I can appreciate this. You and she have developed a bond and she has helped you tremendously. The problem, however is that she is unable to meet your needs at this time. She is sick and unable to help you with what you need. This means that you may need a new therapist.

It may also be possible to arrange a situation in which you see your new therapist and your current therapist simultaneously. Perhaps your current therapist knows a trusted colleague who she could recommend.

I would encourage you to be completely honest with your therapist. I know it will be difficult but she needs to know how you feel. It is perfectly rational for you to bring this concern to her attention. Any good therapist would be concerned about his or her client and his or her well-being. She should be more than happy to refer you to a new therapist if she is unable to meet your needs. It may only be a temporary move until her health condition improves.

You need to deal with the situation you are faced with. Your therapist is sick and currently unable to meet your needs. It is an unfortunate situation. You need help and I would encourage you to find it where you can. If it means finding a new therapist then that is what you should do, even if it is difficult. Thanks for your question. I wish you well.

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 26 Jun 2010

APA Reference
Randle, K. (2010). Therapist Is in Poor Physical Health. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 29, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2010/06/26/therapist-is-in-poor-physical-health/