How NOT to get an email response from a therapist

In our recent attempts to get some answers from our therapist, we sent the following emails…

We’re bad at code names… So she is “Bob” and we are “Kate”… Those who’ve watched Blackadder will understand this 🙂

Hi Bob,

Some concerns have arisen from the last few sessions. I realise that you would prefer us to raise these questions during a session, but these are ones that I need to think about your responses to quite extensively, so don’t want to risk a poor reaction that is out of context or un-necessary.

  1. What diagnosis do you understand me to have?
  2. What experience do you have in treating this diagnosis?
  3. How long can I expect sessions with you to continue?
  4. If ACC refuse to fund further sessions, do you have someone you recommend that I see who specialises in the area of this diagnosis?

To be honest, if I was working on the “one strike you’re out” mentality that you mentioned during yesterday’s session, sessions would have stopped a long time ago. All that occurred is that time was needed to process what you had said – nothing more, nothing less.

Yes, there is a certain level of black and white thinking – as is common with most survivors of trauma. However, this thinking is more turned on myself rather than others – if there is a misunderstanding, it is my fault; if there is evil, it is mine…

If you see resistance to change, this is because there is a feeling that you are attempting to change things without fully understanding what is occurring. Rules you established were done so with little understanding of the whole picture. There is a struggle to help people understand what goes on in this head as there are not the words to describe it – education background in Sciences rather than Arts/Social Sciences. So I know that the lack of communication as to what the full picture looks like is my fault. When attempts have been made to try and explain why the rules may not work, you don’t seem to be grasping the implications – again this is my inability to explain the full picture. There is again a lack of hope that I will be able to find help.


Bob’s response after being prompted to give a reply…

Hi Kate,
You are welcome to email me, but I do not think it would be helpful for you if we did therapy through email. I would rather we discussed therapy issues in sessions.
Kind regards

Well this response was fair enough… I’m sure most of her clients are better in this form of boundary… BUT WE’RE NOT!!!!!!!! Hence our response…

Hi Bob,

Thank you for responding. I understand your response, and it is reasonable. However, as I dissociate freely during therapy time, the answers you give won’t be remembered. I also don’t have the strength or level of trust to ask difficult questions during the session, so these will not be asked. Due to these factors I was attempting to have issues addressed in a way that is safe for me and allows time to reflect on the answers given.

No answer you give will surprise – you have the notes and the list of diagnoses given over the last three years. It’s not a list to be proud of, but it also means that there is nothing that will shock me.

As the next session will be a few days before Christmas, it is not a good time to discuss this then.


We were rather soft at the end, and possibly gave the impression that we are prepared to talk about it in a session some time next year… Trying to find a way of saying “Just give us the answers woman” without it sounding threatening or nasty.

To make things worse, we’ve had to cancel tomorrow’s therapy session because of this cold we have… So odds are she thinks we’re playing games or something… *sigh*


5 thoughts on “How NOT to get an email response from a therapist

  1. *sigh*Is it OK for me to say that I’m thoroughly pissed off at your therapist?I guess I just said it, whether it’s OK or not.

  2. ditto on what DR said…. …seems to be a lack somehow of knowledge or understanding on her part….sounds like therapy itself carries a lot more stress for you than just the trauma work! (like that isn’t enough?!)

  3. Thanks David and Vague…Don’t worry David, we’re swinging between frustration and being pissed off… She’s intelligent, but she just doesn’t get it!We just sent her this email which was composed by One, who isn’t overly impressed with her 🙂Hi Bob,Sorry, I probably haven’t made myself clear. I’m not trying to conduct therapy through email. All I want is answers to some very important questions. It’s not realistic to expect me to be able to control the dissociation while these questions are being addressed during a session. I’m not sure how aware you are of the dissociation during the sessions, but on a good day about half of the session is remembered, the rest is lost in the dissociation. Which would you prefer?1. Answering the questions via email, resulting in me getting the answers in a format that is less intimidating and which can be followed up in a therapy session. 2. Answering the questions in a session when the dissociation will occur freely, half of the information will be missed and the chances of mis-understanding something are high.RegardsKateWe’d just read Secret Shadows entry about Interpersonal effectiveness, so we were trying to be assertive without being too confrontational. Hopefully she’ll reply to this one… Really don’t want to have to look for another therapist at this time of year…Take care…

  4. here’s a thought, for what it’s worth… the four questions you posed are not therapy questions, they are questions *about* therapy… they are business questions. you do not conduct business in a therapy session (at least in my mind), you conduct it outside of a therapy session. generally people do not hire or discuss employment during working hours… why would this be any different? you are her employer (or contractor), you are evaluating whether continued employment is warranted. you should not be paying her for that time (whether it’s out of pocket or covered by insurance, either way)…. she is being very unprofessional, and in effect driving you away by refusal to communicate…. actually sounds very passive-agressive on her part…. and *inappropriately* high boundaries… she should still be able to communicate with you like an equal person…. sheesh.anyways… jus’ a few of my thoughts….

  5. Good point Vague…She still hasn’t responded, so its obviously not something that she is willing to email us about.We thought they were reasonable questions. We’d only contacted her by email to say basic things like we can’t make this weeks session etc. One email that we thought was more directly about therapy was asking her for clarification as to what we were going to “talk about this next time” as this was the only part of the session we remembered. We were stressing badly so asked what the “this” was. She was fine with answering that question.We’re going to think things over this weekend and see what options we can come up with.Take care…

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