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Was My Therapist Wrong Or Am I Just Freaking Out?

Question:

I have been seeing my therapist for five months. He has a very strict cancellation policy. I went to see my MD yesterday who told me to stay out of work for 24-48 hours. Since my therapist is near my office, not my home, I canceled my appointment immediately to honor the 24 hour policy, even though I had the worst week since I have started seeing him. Around 11 am today I felt like I could drive the 25 miles to go to see him and called. I was told that he had no appointments for the day but he would call if he had an opening. I never heard from him. If I were seeing him next week that would be fine but he is on vacation from tomorrow for a week and a half. So my next appointment is two weeks from today . My husband said if it were him he would find someone else, but I should get an outside opinion. I am so very upset and have no idea on what to do. I feel a bit abandoned..

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Answer:

Thank you for submitting this very interesting situation you find your self in with your therapist.

There are no easy answers to this one. It is understandable that you feel frustrated and abandoned by the loss of your appointment. On the other hand, another way to look at this is that "it is all grist for the mill." What I mean by that is that your angry and frustrated feelings about both the lost appointment and his vacation provide an opportunity for you and your therapist to explore some powerful emotions that you are experiencing.

In my opinion, and I am sure there are other opinions, there is no "right or wrong" to this situation. It is common for many practitioners to have strict cancellation policies. In fact, this is true not only of therapists but many Medical Doctors, Dentists and other health care professionals. You kept to his policy and cancelled your appointment 24 hours in advance and you were not charged. He would have called you back if he had a cancellation but that did not happen and he is on vacation next week. As a therapist I found myself in the same situation a number of times over the years. It is frustrating and unfortunate for everyone involved.

My suggestion is that you not "run" from this therapist but, instead, discuss your anger and disappointment with him upon his return. There are always deeper meanings to these experiences than what seems obvious on the surface.

If you have not read about "Transference" on our website, then I recommend you do a search of Mental Help Net and read about it. There are aspects of what happened that are "transferential" for you. In other words, it is likely that your angry and abandoned feelings have roots in the past, particularly in your childhood. That does not make your feelings unimportant. Quite to the contrary, Transference makes your reactions to your therapist extremely important and worth exploring together.

Yes, you will have to wait about a week and one half but hopefully, it will be worth the wait to talk things out with him.

Best of Luck

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Comments
  • Dawn Pugh

    Hi DR.Schwartz

    I totally agree.

    I admire that the lady who asked the question behaved responsibly by cancelling her appointment in the first place. It was just unfortunate that time was of the esscence.

    Taking responsibility for your own feelings is paramount within a therapeutic relationship, (any relationship for that matter). So maybe you might wish to take this interim time and use it as an opportunity to write things down, start a journal/ diary of your feelings. This will also act as an aid to memory, it will also allow you to postpone your anger and frustration and re-visit it when you are face to face with your therapist.

    Thank you

    Regards

    Dawn Pugh

    http://www.dawnpugh.com

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