My therapist left and said I could not keep in touch with her

By Daniel J. Tomasulo, PhD, TEP, MFA, MAPP

I am having trouble dealing with the fact that my therapist moved far away and I can’t keep in touch with her. I have been seeing this therapist for the last three months and I had a great connection with her. I am taking this especially hard because it was the first time I actually was able to connect with someone who was close to my age where a I live and seemed to actually care. She said we could not keep in touch. I would like to try to contact her eventually though, how long should I wait? She has only been a therapist for four years and I think that is why she wouldn’t allow it, because the other two therapists I have seen previously wanted me to let them know how i was doing after I was no longer their client.

A: I appreciate your concern over the loss of your therapist and am happy to provide some feedback to help in this transition.

The reasons why therapists allow or do not allow contact with a client are varied. But if your therapist set a clear limitation and boundary I encourage you to respect it and not contact her. Not now, not ever. To do otherwise would be an invasion of your therapist’s privacy. Once the therapeutic relationship is over great value can be had in learning to maintain an ending. Along these lines I suggest three things:

First I would write her a letter, not one you send or attempt to deliver to her in any way. This letter would highlight your disappointments and frustrations with her leaving. I would encourage you to write it as if she were going to read it. But it is important not to deliver it. The letter is an opportunity for you to vent your feelings about this, and to put those thoughts and feelings in one place. The fact your therapist said you could not keep in touch with her is important for you to respect, but finding a safe way to express yourself is important for your growth. The letter accomplishes the latter while respecting the former.

Secondly, I would find another therapist as soon as possible to begin working through the feelings of disappointment and abandonment. Endings and beginnings are the stuff of life and of therapy. You can find a therapist in your area under the find help tab above.

Finally I would encourage you to do some journal writing in the interim. Specifically I would try to write about other times and other people you felt a connection with who have left you. Doing such writing allows you to draw a red thread through the therapeutic experience and hopefully allow you to use this ending with your therapist for maximum benefit. Journal writing allows you to become friends with yourself. That’s the most important relationship any of us have.
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Wishing you patience and peace,
Dr. Dan

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 9 Sep 2010

APA Reference
Tomasulo, D. (2010). My therapist left and said I could not keep in touch with her. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 31, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2010/09/09/my-therapist-left-and-said-i-could-not-keep-in-touch-with-her/