Therapists are people just like you. They are brothers, sisters, sons and daughters, mother, fathers, husbands, and wives…they have responsibilities to themselves and theirs in the same way that you have responsibilities to you and yours. You choose a therapist. You build a bond. You vest in yourself. You begin to experience positive change in your world. You show vulnerability. You laugh. You cry. You grow and you begin to rely on the support of your therapist. This has happened, in part, because your therapist is dependable and always available for you.
One day you receive a call from the Practice Support Specialist asking you to reschedule your appointment. This has never happened before so even though you were looking forward to your weekly appointment you reluctantly rescheduled. Then your reschedule gets rescheduled! You are feeling annoyed, so you ask the Practice Support Specialist the reason the appointment is continuing to be rescheduled. She says simply that your therapist had a family emergency. Suddenly, you feel frightened and confused. This seems strange to you because it is not your family emergency. You might even feel selfish or even a little angry. How dare your therapist prioritize anyone but you!
Please do not react or take this personal. Deploy your coping skills. Breath, use self-talk, use some grounding techniques to help you process how you are feeling. Accept how you are feeling in the moment. Feel the feeling for a moment or two and then move forward with your day.
Your therapist has life happening for them just like you have life happening for you. So again, the question remains when life is happening for your therapist what do you do? At your next appointment you should talk to your therapist about how the rescheduling made you feel. You should feel just as comfortable speaking about this event and how it made you feel as you would speak about anything else. After all your relationship is built on trust and honesty. The response you may get from your therapist may not be the response you wanted or expected but none the less it is a response and just how your therapist accepts your responses unconditionally you should except whatever the response from your therapist might be-unconditionally and with positive regard.
It is important for you to remember that therapists usually have a safety plan in place so that their clients are never left without a therapist for support. For group practices there is easily another clinician available for you, especially if you are in crisis. For individual practices there should be another therapist available to assist you if you need to have an appointment immediately and your therapist is unavailable.
It is important to remember that therapists take their ethics very seriously and their dedication to care is particularly important to them. Babies will be born, loved ones will die, relationships will be challenged. Therapists even get a cold from time to time. A therapist’s consideration for you should always be a priority. When it is you will know it and sticking with your therapist when life happens to them will benefit you more than you realize.
Christine Johnson LPC, LPC-S, CCTP, CCATP