Emailing T between sessions

Movingforward10

MyPTSD Pro
Hi,
Today my T said I could email her between sessions to let her know how I am and how a conversation I want to have with my partner went. She said it wouldn't be therapy by email but for me to practice expressing myself and my needs. She will respond by simply acknowledging the email.

I am feeling both excited by this (I get more of her attention and time - whoo!) And also incredibly nervous and on edge (I like the boundary of the 50 minute session and i'm scared that by emailing in-between sessions it will be bluring the boundary and become something else and then she will dump me and i'll be left to deal with this trauma on my own).

Reading lots of these threads, it looks like in the US it seems fairly common for communication outside the session? Is it common in the UK? (I'm in the UK).

The week before last, T and I emailed each other as she said she would email me a brief note of the session as I spend a lot of the time disassociating and forgetting. She said this wasn't something she normally did.

So I'm worried I'm pushing boundaries and we're doing things she doesn't normally do. And this feeds into my view of sex, and my boundaries (or lack of), and all sorts of things.

Writing this, I realise I need to talk to T about all this, even if I am too embarrassed to.

What do you think about emailing and boundaries with your T?
 

barefoot

MyPTSD Pro
I’m in the UK and my T is fine with emails between sessions.

Like you, I used to dissociate a lot in sessions.

I also had a lot of sessions where my brain was present but my voice got completely hijacked...so I would be thinking things or have clear things I wanted to say but I just couldn’t get any words to come out of my mouth.

I also do much more processing on my own after sessions rather than in sessions themselves.

So, being able to sometimes send an email - either to express something important that I wasn’t able to say in the session or to let her know something that I’d sort of delayed processed - was really helpful and something of a relief at times. An outlet of expression rather than sitting holding onto something hard on my own for another week and then possibly not being able to say it next time either!

It also sometimes helped to make me accountable to talking about it in real life with her...because she would often bring the email up next time if I didn’t,

It’s certainly not something I did a huge amount. I didn’t want to take the mick!

But it’s sometimes good just to know it’s an option.

Like your T, my T doesn’t engage with the content over email and I get that. Her reply is always just basically an acknowledgement that she has received/read it and a ‘let’s pick this up next time.’ Just knowing I have said it and she has read it often enables me to park it if it’s a difficult/emotive thing - it sort of diffuses it a bit.

A good T will be able to look after their own boundaries. Even if she is offering to do something that she doesn’t do for everyone, trust that, if she’s offering to do it for you: a) she thinks it will be in service to you and b) she has considered it and is willing to do it.

I suspect those of us who are worried about pushing/crossing boundaries won’t be the clients who actually do this! ?

But, since you’re concerned about it regarding boundaries - and it also plays into other boundary things for you and raises fears around possible rejection (her dumping you) - I definitely think it’s worth talking to her about. Even just a ‘You know you said about me emailing you? I’ve been thinking about that and I’m a bit worried that it’ll mean me pushing boundaries...?’ Or ‘how will we keep boundaries in place over email?’ Or whatever! Something simple will start the conversation and show her that you’re concerned.

Perhaps you could do that over email and get the ball rolling! Practice expressing your needs with her over over email...about use of email ?
 

piratelady

MyPTSD Pro
I’m in the US, and we email between sessions. I have a really hard time coming into his office and admitting how difficult the previous week has been. So we found that by me emailing my journal, that makes it a lot easier on both of us.

Sometimes he replies with words of encouragement or something like that. We also talked about it, he made sure I wouldn’t get upset if he didn’t respond.

So I would just talk about it with your therapist said. Like someone else said, they can watch their boundaries. You just have to talk about it. :)
 

Skywatcher

MyPTSD Pro
Email became a huge trigger for my anxiety. We had to revamp the whole system. I can write to her anytime I want and she might reply, but it is now understood that she will read them but probably won’t reply.
 

Movingforward10

MyPTSD Pro
Email became a huge trigger for my anxiety. We had to revamp the whole system. I can write to her anytime I want and she might reply, but it is now understood that she will read them but probably won’t reply.
Thanks @Skywatcher , I think that could happen for me too. Especially if she doesn't reply. That would send me into a spin. I think I need to talk to her more about it.


I've drafted an email which I have in drafts for me to think about if I will send it. Just saying I had the conversation with my partner and that I'm struggling with sending the email as I'm worried I'm pushing boundaries.

And the other dilemma is when do I send it? Midweek? Now? Not at all? What is the emailing etiquette on this?! What are the rules? How do I know if I'm breaking them? All these questions make me think this is too hard as it is challenging so many scripts I live by (don't make a fuss, don't get noticed, don't do something wrong, don't bother someone etc etc). I know I need to challenge these scripts but I'm not sure I'm ready with this emailing. It is making me anxious.

And then that is getting me down as she offered this to help me and I'm not making it help me.
 

barefoot

MyPTSD Pro
I think it's important to discuss with her how it will work. She could, for instance, clarify her approach to email and what you can expect from her. And you can then decide whether that sounds good to you or whether you want to suggest anything different (knowing that she may or may not agree to it) or whether you'd rather not do email at the moment or anything else. It may be that she says it's an opportunity for you to share things with her but that she won't respond to them via email. In which case, you could see whether that works for you – it may not send you into a spin if you know that's what to expect?

Or you could then say 'I think I'll find it really stressful (or whatever!) to not receive any reply from you at all. Would it be possible for you to just send a brief acknowledgement so that I know you've read it? Even if it's just a "Thanks for the email" kind of thing?'

With mine, she actively encouraged me to email to express what I hadn't been able to in session...but then she would never reply. It stressed me out and annoyed me a bit to bare my soul (!) and then just be met with silence...I was always left wondering whether she had seen it, whether it was sitting there unread, whether she's read it but it was too much or somehow 'wrong' or that she thought it wasn't important or whatever other stressful narrative I could conjure up about it! I used to think 'why do you encourage me to write so much if then, when I do, you don't even bother to reply?!' Then we'd have a session and it was clear that she had read it, so that felt better....until the next time!

At one point in a session where she must have been encouraging me to email again, I blurted out something along the lines of 'What's the point? You never reply!' And she looked a bit taken aback and then looked like she felt bad...then she explained her approach to email, which is that she always reads them but she doesn't engage in any 'therapeutic content' herself over email. I think this is probably the same as your T when she says about this not being therapy by email. Getting clarity on that so I understood her approach and could therefore adjust my expectations was incredibly helpful. Probably would have been more helpful to know this from the get go and it would have saved me some stress and fury but there you go...better late than never!

I did explain how I felt when I was sharing deep, personal stuff with her and just got nothing back and, since then, she has always replied. It's only usually a sentence or two but it's something that just acknowledges that I've shared something with her and she has read it. It's often just something like, 'Thanks for sharing this - let's pick this up next time' or sometimes she will acknowledge a feeling I've written about eg 'Sorry that you're feeling low at the moment...take it easy this week and let's discuss next time.'

As far as I can tell, the only etiquette or rules would be whatever you two agreed together? My T and I don't have any explicit rules – I just know she won't engage in therapeutic content so don't expect long responses and she knows that I appreciate some acknowledgement however brief so she now sends some sort of reply. That just sort of came out in the wash.

But if the idea of there being rules around this that you could break is a stressful one – or if you would actually like to suggest some rules yourself – it sounds like a great idea to talk to her about that.

I guess when it comes to it, rules in this context means boundaries? Perhaps agreeing these with her upfront will reduce your stress around it? Or perhaps hearing her say there are no rules and you can just do what you feel is useful will reassure you? (Or not?!) Either way, a useful discussion probably.

Ultimately, of course, this is your choice. And you are completely within your rights to decide that you don't want to email her at this point (or ever!) It may not be for you. And, if that's the case, that's ok.
 

Movingforward10

MyPTSD Pro
Thanks @barefoot , I really appreciate your input and sharing your experience. It helps a lot.

I think she probably has been clear with me: that I can email her; that it is practice for me to realise it is ok to express myself: and that she will acknowledge the email.
It's all me that is making it complicated! I suppose I'm just not used to all this kindness and time and feelings. It's all in my head creating stress where there doesn't need to be any.

I will have to talk to her about it.
I think (unless I change my mind a thousand times!) I will sleep on it and send the email tomorrow, adding a bit that says I'm finding this really stressful and might not want to email again and maybe we can talk about it in the session.

I'm so stressed out by this email! Trying to be rational with myself and challenge all this anxiety about it.
 

Friday

Moderator
So I'm worried I'm pushing boundaries and we're doing things she doesn't normally do.
The only boundaries I’m seeing crossed are you trying to decide what SHE is “allowed” to offer or do. That’s her side of the street. Not yours. Your side is whether or not you want to email her, AND to email her within the format offered (not therapy, not expecting a response, practicing organizing your thoughts & expressing needs/wants.)

You may not want to. You may want to, then learn more about yourself & what you need/want, and change your mind. (You’re allowed to change your mind). You may want to, and continue wanting to, and get a lot out of it. You may want to, continue wanting to, get a lot out of it, and she alters the format offered, and you no longer want to. <<< And many many other possibilities/combos on your side of the street.

Your side of the street is all about you. What you want, what you’re okay with, how you’d like to do things. Her side is hers, and hers to decide and manage.
 
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