My therapist is going away for a week soon and I am dreading it. I know that I will feel like I’ve got no failsafe without her, even though most of the time I don’t need one. I find safety in knowing she can be at the end of the phone if I have a crisis. Quite rightly, she gives no guarantee of that, but the few times I have needed her she has responded.
I can trust that if things get really bad and I get to that desperate point of feeling like I have no options, she’s pretty good at calming me down, listening and getting me back in control of myself. I’m fairly sure she is the only person who can do that for me. So this leaves me feeling like I’m up shit creek without a paddle when she’s away.
I know this is a problem for a lot of people in regular therapy, so I thought I’d share a few points I have found useful.
Tell your therapist how you feel about them going on holiday
This is important, of course, because anxieties about them leaving you are closely connected with your relationship. It takes some courage to address this. It is so much easier to talk to a therapist about everyone else in your life, but I think telling the therapist how you feel about your relationship with them can be really valuable. I know last time my therapist was going away I took this risk, explaining that I feel abandoned and vulnerable, left behind. This meant she was able to reassure me that she doesn’t forget about me as soon as I walk out of her door, and that was a comfort.
Vet a stand-in therapist together
Ask for some help identifying someone suitable you can see while your therapist is away. They may well be able to recommend people locally who could offer you a few one-off sessions. I have been meaning to do this myself, having chosen someone I like and trust. However, when it came to it, I cancelled both appointments and stayed in bed for most of the week. I need to have another go at this one!
Plan treats instead
This one is my favourite, as you get to choose some treats for yourself. So maybe instead of seeing your therapist, you could go for a massage or a facial, or meet a friend for lunch. If you plan these activities for the times you would usually see your therapist, it might help you miss the appointment less.
That heading sounds a bit ridiculous. But it’s a technique I learned in my time in hospital. There were certain group sessions I was a big fan of, but these only happened once per week. So during the week, I would work on achieving something significant to bring back to those groups next time. It gave me a focus for those in between days, and some continuity. I felt like I was still doing the therapy from that particular group each day I worked on those goals.
I hope some of that is useful. I guess we all manage in different ways. I’d love to hear any other advice people have on dealing with therapist holidays.
Image courtesy of Edwin Lee, Used under Creative Commons license.