So, my therapist is taking a break.

12birds

Confident
My therapist is taking a couple months off to handle some personal affairs. She left the time frame vague, so I'm unsure if it will be 2 months or 4. During our session next week she'll have a list of therapists I can see for the time being, plus it'll be our last appointment for the foreseeable future. She said she'll email me when she's ready to return.

I'm not distressed by the leave itself, I'm just not sure what to do with the time and my trauma date is approaching (end of July). Has anyone had experience with temporary therapists? What did you find challenging? What was helpful? If you didn't see anyone new, what did you do with yourself?

She did say if I am in crisis I can email her and she'll come into the office, though I don't feel comfortable pulling her away from her life. That doesn't seem fair. But I'm not sure I could effectively rely on a stranger to get me through the anniversary. It's also possible I'm overthinking this and just afraid of my toolbox. But I can't help but feel that full body clench trying to prepare.

Any thoughts are welcome. This is a weird position to find myself in!
 

Movingforward10

MyPTSD Pro
I'm sorry. That sounds unsettling and upsetting.

I absolutely get not wanting to take her up on her offer of coming in to see you. But. *She offered*. Which means, she would have thought about what she can and can't do. She has looked after her boundaires and come up with this: vagueness about how long she needs off but a safetynwt with the offer of a session if you're struggling. I would take her up on that offer if you need it. Because you can assume she has looked after herself and her boundaires.

I haven't been in your situation so I can't say about a temporary T and hope someone else can share an experience with you.
 

Sideways

Moderator
Yeah, been through this before. Not more than 2 months, but periods up to 2 months I've had stand-ins many times over the years.
What did you find challenging?
Not much, tbh. A couple of times a had a relatively young T stand in, and they seem to want to ask more questions/understand what's going on better. The more experienced Ts, though, have always handled things smoothly, and been happy to rely on the info they got in the handover.
What was helpful?
A good handover! Make sure your T is going to cover anything that's likely to be hard (like an anniversary), and the type of support you may need (for me, that's usually prn meds - not having to persuade them if you suddenly need a script for valium is very helpful).

For me, it's always been helpful keeping short appointments with a stand-in, rather than just putting appointments on hold. I think it's been important for my ability to cope going through that process of having a person in front of me understanding that things are hard, that my usual support network is away, and seeing them willing to help as much as they can.

Maybe I've been lucky. But I've had a lot of stand-ins over the years, and the only ones that were ever totally useless were either unqualified, or very newly qualified. Overwhelmingly, knowing in advance that my T has told them "you'll need to provide x support while I'm away", it's gone surprisingly smoothly.
 

arfie

MyPTSD Pro
in my own healing journey, my therapists have felt something like a roulette wheel. i think the largest cause of this has been my use of clinics at the veteran's administration, etc. the first few times i had a single therapist for an extended period, i started transferring my attachment disorders onto them and was handed off in order to disrupt that gnarly cycle. the first time felt like a sucker punch. but i now believe it was necessary.

my very first long term shrink was an army psychologist and a fanatical believer in peer support. he encouraged me (and all the members of the therapy group) to think of him as a reference book. "chockful of good information, but i never leave the library and your goal is to get me back on the shelf ASAP (as soon as possible). it is up to you guys to have each other's backs in the trenches."

i still mostly think of professionals as reference books. it is more business transaction than emotional bonding. i bond more freely with my therapy peer supporters and trust that they have my back, but i save the sweet stuff for family time.

but that is me and i often wonder if i suffer PDD. psychiatric disorder disorder.

steadying support while you find your own way through.
 

whiteraven

MyPTSD Pro
I'm just not sure what to do with the time and my trauma date is approaching (end of July).
Just go about living? I have had occasional periods where my T was out of the country, and frankly, it was really good for me. It helped me see that I really don't have to be dependent on therapy, and that life goes on without it!

I suspect it might be good to have a substitute if you are approaching a trauma date or if you think you might need support for crises. I never used a substitute (it's just too hard for me to adjust to someone new/different), but I used those times to learn how to manage things on my own.
 

barefoot

Sponsor
Ah, sorry you’re in this position @12birds - as you say, it’s a weird position to be in and I can imagine it may bring up mixed feelings.

I don’t have experience of this or wisdom to share, but I’d know I’d feel pretty devastated if this happened. So, sending you support on that front.

As others have said - I guess her doing a good handover is probably the most key thing. And, the fact that she has offered to see you if you need to during her break - know that that is available if you need it. She wouldn’t have offered if she wasn’t happy to do it. Also though, you may find the break easier than you imagine - being forced to draw on our own resources and tools can mean we are pleasantly surprised by how we navigate these things without T there.

Can you discuss your concerns around the anniversary when you see her next? You may be able to come up with a plan together to help you navigate it? She may reiterate her offer to provide some support at that time? Or she may be able to offer some thoughts about how best to utilise a cover T for that situation?
 

12birds

Confident
Just go about living? I have had occasional periods where my T was out of the country, and frankly, it was really good for me. It helped me see that I really don't have to be dependent on therapy, and that life goes on without it!

I suspect it might be good to have a substitute if you are approaching a trauma date or if you think you might need support for crises. I never used a substitute (it's just too hard for me to adjust to someone new/different), but I used those times to learn how to manage things on my own.
The rest of the time will be a good opportunity, like you mentioned (decompressing, exploring my own strengths, etc), so I'm not distressed about missing regular appointments. I'm just concerned about the timing. It's historically a very rough time of the year, something akin to a lost week for me. But like you, I struggle to adjust to new people. I think I'll stick your advice in my back pocket and see what happens.
 

12birds

Confident
A good handover! Make sure your T is going to cover anything that's likely to be hard (like an anniversary), and the type of support you may need (for me, that's usually prn meds - not having to persuade them if you suddenly need a script for valium is very helpful).

For me, it's always been helpful keeping short appointments with a stand-in, rather than just putting appointments on hold. I think it's been important for my ability to cope going through that process of having a person in front of me understanding that things are hard, that my usual support network is away, and seeing them willing to help as much as they can.
It might be the idea of the stand in that I'm so focused on. It makes me feel like I'm out of the captain's chair, so to speak. I may keep someone scheduled just for emergency reasons, but not continue. Or who knows, maybe I'll find it helpful. Either way, I'll roll some ideas off of her before she leaves so we can figure things out.
Can you discuss your concerns around the anniversary when you see her next? You may be able to come up with a plan together to help you navigate it? She may reiterate her offer to provide some support at that time? Or she may be able to offer some thoughts about how best to utilise a cover T for that situation?
I absolutely can and that's the plan for next session. I'm sure she'll offer again, I just have my own hangups about professional boundaries that make me hesitant to communicate outside of regularly scheduled appointments. I think I'm just going to lay out everything on the table and see where we land!
 

Eagle3

MyPTSD Pro
I had to navigate a situation like this. My T developed cancer and had to take a break to deal with that. We communicated until he couldn't and had to step away from practice completely. While he was dealing with his health I saw temp therapists because I was not in a place to go without therapy for months on end. While I wasn't comfortable going into deep trauma work with any of them, taking a break from the intense work and just dealing with surface issues was a welcome change of pace for me. As soon as original T recovered enough to return to practice, I was back in his office again, and while things had changed, he's still the best therapist I could ever work with. It just seemed like a cluster at the time, but I turned it into a good experience anyhow. Lots of meaningful self-care, and learning about myself and how well I use the tools I'd been given.

Hope you have an ok time of it!
 

12birds

Confident
I had to navigate a situation like this. My T developed cancer and had to take a break to deal with that. We communicated until he couldn't and had to step away from practice completely. While he was dealing with his health I saw temp therapists because I was not in a place to go without therapy for months on end. While I wasn't comfortable going into deep trauma work with any of them, taking a break from the intense work and just dealing with surface issues was a welcome change of pace for me. As soon as original T recovered enough to return to practice, I was back in his office again, and while things had changed, he's still the best therapist I could ever work with. It just seemed like a cluster at the time, but I turned it into a good experience anyhow. Lots of meaningful self-care, and learning about myself and how well I use the tools I'd been given.

Hope you have an ok time of it!
This is very helpful! I have a lot to marinate on for my next appointment. Much appreciated!
 

12birds

Confident
An update:
I had my last session today and it was great, like one of the best I've ever had. We talked about my apprehensions, some of what I mentioned here, some of the general advice/thoughts you all presented. I did ask specifically about the transition and she said I have a two options: I can sign a release so she can give a complete rundown or I can give as much info as I want of my own accord. She suggested it may be a place to start fresh and focus on some lighter stuff - more about my day-to-day anxiety and other things as they appear. And instead of giving me the list she compiled, she picked someone out for me with my needs in mind (which surprised me, but I am appreciative of). We also talked at length about my successes, which really helped close out the whole thing.

I am in a place where I know I don't have to decide today and I don't have to go if I don't want to. I feel like this is an opportunity rather than an interruption. Thanks for letting me throw my question out there, everyone! Your responses were very helpful.
 
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