Therapist hasn’t responded to last few texts

E

Erin1523

My therapist told me I can reach out to her for coaching if I’m having urges to self harm. I sent her a text after that session which she didn’t respond to. Was very difficult for me but I sent her another one the next day, and she sent back a very caring and helpful response. She was great throughout that week. End of week I had a difficult time, texted and she never responded. Was painful but a few days later she responded to an email I had sent, so maybe she was just busy and couldn’t get to my text that day. We had a session after that. Later that day I sent a text that I’m struggling. 24 hours later it’s still on unread. I don’t know what to think. She used to be very responsive. It’s very painful that she didn’t even read it. And I’m really struggling but don’t want to reach out. As it is I worry I am being annoying whenever I do.
 

Movingforward10

MyPTSD Pro
I'm sorry it is tough.

What was the agreement about texting? Did she say she would respond within a set time? Perhaps you can clairfy that with her?

I have had similar hurts/confusion with email with my T between sessions. It's been a very challenging process to learn about and know what the boundaires are. Sometimes it has taken her a couple of days to respond. She tells me she puts a lot of thought into her responses as she is trying to work out what I am communicating and what I need to make sure her response is theraputic.

Your T not responding isn't a sign that she doesn't care. She does have other commitments and it might well be that she is thinking about what is the best way to theraputically respond. The fact she hasn't read it, means most likely that she is busy and occupied with other things. Which doesn't indicate lack of care.

I have found the contact between sessions very very confusing. And those feelings and thoughts you have written, I have also written. Clarity is key.

Perhaps try and not see it as an immediate crisis thing. I tried to make my email to her be enough to relieve a crisis. and that a response was an added bonus.
 
E

Erin1523

That was really helpful, thanks for taking the time to reply. We didn’t make up anything specific. I guess she’s only human but it hurts not to feel like a priority.
 

Teamwork

MyPTSD Pro
Mine has many reasons. If I’m not clearly identify a question he views it as something for him to read. I’ve learned to be clear, if I’m just stressed and struggling then I’m more or less journaling to him and have to realize it needs to be good enough that he read it. If I rehash a session he tends to not respond because his response then becomes a part of my file. Also if I rehash right away then its only fair that he let me process and not respond or therapy is going on and on without me actually having to think it through to the point of digest. If he’s taught me calming techniques, it’s within my capacity to use them and sometimes he’ll mention something to do. He see’s me every four weeks so I do think he also calculates so many emails as a session and when I’ve hit that limit he stops responding. Sometimes I write and he views it as a monologue, I’m not inviting him in just talking it out. I’m free to email, he doesn’t always reply. He has a very busy practice and he seems to view his email at 7:30am and 3pm. Shuts it off on weekends. I’ve learned to read his old responses because sometimes I’m presenting the same problem without realizing he’s been over it already. Hope my journey helps you!
 

osiris

MyPTSD Pro
I’m sorry that you are struggling with SH right now, but well done trying to get help with it.

I would agree with @Movingforward10 that it would be good to get clarification on what kind of response your therapist will be able to give.

My T has it in the T&C that I signed up to that support is during session times, and that outside of those they cannot guarantee any responses. They have said if anything comes up between sessions for me to email (I guess I could text but I don’t).

Sometimes they will respond and sometimes they won’t - but it is something we might deal with in the next session.
I pay for the time I get in session. Anything outside of that is unpaid, so I am conscious of not wanting to expect anything, even if they have said I can get in touch.

I can’t pretend it’s not difficult. I like my T and if I reach out I’d like them to respond. But I have to remember it is a professional relationship not a friendship. In my job I don’t respond to colleagues out of work hours, so I can see the limitations.

I know therapy is a different kettle of fish though. And that is why you need a specific answer from your therapist about their personal boundaries.

I think different therapists deal with it very differently, and it may also come down to how often you are needing her support. If it is for someone to talk you down in a crisis then ultimately that might not helpful for you, to be reaching out to someone who could be busy and unable to respond.

But if it is to overcome SH maybe you could have an agreement that you include a code in your message e.g 1 - I need a response, 2 - I am struggling and appreciate a check in, 3 - I’m fine and don’t need a response but want you to know.

I hope you can get it sorted because I can understand the confusion if she is responding sometimes and not at others. Knowing you can have a consistent level of care (whatever that level is) is probably a good thing.

It’s not the same, but posting in here when you need some encouragement and support can also be helpful too :)
 

Sideways

Moderator
I have no idea what’s going on.
Be patient with your T. Texting is a bit of a minefield with some therapists - it seems to be the form of communication where there's the most amount of inconsistency. Which can be incredibly frustrating.

Remember that your T is reading and responding to your texts in her professional capacity, which makes it very different from texts to other people you might text more casually. They'll likely put it aside until they have a break in their schedule during work hours, and with sufficient time for them to switch their headspace to you and your personal situation (as opposed to the dozen other clients they've dealt with today). Those 3 elements need to come together for them to respond.
 

Sideways

Moderator
How long would be a reasonable time to wait before giving up and just feeling rejected :(
For me? I wouldn't expect a response to a text message. I exchange texts with one of my Ts, and if she doesn't have time, she doesn't have time. I don't get response.

If I need help, and it can't wait? The onus is really on me to call up and reschedule my appointment, and it clear that there's some urgency to it. My T is happy to have a few exchanges by text, but she isn't providing a text support service. She provides support via in-person appointments, and it's important for me to respect those professional boundaries, and accept that anything on top of that is bonus.

Where texting is part of the support services negotiated with the T beforehand, I think it's different. But even then, there will be a limit to how much time I could expect my T to commit to texting, because they aren't getting paid for that time.

It can be surprisingly difficult to reply to professional texts. Unlike ordinary texting, there's a lot riding on the very limited reply that texting affords, and it's very easy to slip up and say the wrong thing, or something that could be misunderstood.

I can understand that, from your perspective, even just an acknowledgment would feel reassuring at this point, yeah? Try and take a breath, and if you need the extra support, call up and ask to bring your appointment forward. That way, you're taking charge of the situation, getting the help you need, without needing to feel powerless and invalidated.
 

Charbella

Learning
My T responds to emails and claims he’d respond to texts, I haven’t actually texted him. He’s encouraged me to for the self-harming but I haven’t.

I too see that outside of office hours it is hit and miss. There have been times he hasn’t responded at all and we’ve touched on it in session. Where yours are 4 weeks apart, that’s a long time. Maybe try emailing asking for clarification on their policy.

I tend to give the benefit of the doubt so I could generate a bunch of reasons why they might not respond. Maybe their phone broke, or got left when they went somewhere, or is lost. Maybe they have a family emergency and they’re purposefully not reading it because then it won’t read unread and could be forgotten.

You could always use one of the hotlines texting services to get some immediate feedback. Or use this or even figure out what you think he’d advise and try it. For instance mine would want me to journal what is making me want to SH and then try putting it off by going out with friends. He might also advise safe space or mindfulness to which he’d get a sarcastic reply. 😉
 

Movingforward10

MyPTSD Pro
How long would be a reasonable time to wait before giving up and just feeling rejected :(
How long do you think? As that's the most important thing. And also, thinking why waiting longer means you're being rejected?

I know it feels like that. I have/am there too. But it really isn't rejection. It's a professional relationship. And like everyone has said: there are boundaries. And they aren't a crisis line available 24/7. That's not their function.

Contact with T's outside of the session needs really careful discussion to help avoid exactly what you are feeling. When is your next session?

I recently had a difficult session with my T as I had emailed once a week for 3 weeks in a row. So my T wanted to talk about emailing to see if it remained theraputic. I took great offense to it all because I felt hurt and rejected and scared o had messed everything up. But actually, it helps to have uncomfortable conversations to calrofy the boundaries. And also have the (sometimes harsh) reminder of the limitations of this client/therapist relationship.

This will get better.
 

Erin1523

New Here
Next session is next week. I’m only contacting her as instructed. Not crossing boundaries. She said I can reach out for help. So I’m not sure why she’s not even reading them. This is a first.
 
Top