My Therapist Won’t Email with Me Anymore. I’m Devastated!

I've been in therapy for five years. I've made incredible progress ... really, it has changed my life. So, cut to the chase: My therapist has been emailing with me daily for three years. I was suicidal and have kids, and she helped me make it through without having to be hospitalized, which would have been very traumatic for all concerned. Enough excuses. Now she has decided I am strong enough not to email anymore and I feel devastated. I have done nothing but cry. I understand the reasons ... in a way ... but also feel as if I was led to believe things that are not true. I believed that she cared about me, that I was special, and now I feel as if it was all just a fantasy I created. Letting go of that is incredibly hard. I just ... I can't stand it. I don't know what to do. I mean, in the past when I had this kind of intensity, I talked to her. I saw her Monday and won't see her again until next Monday and I feel like I'm not even going to survive until then. What should I do? I asked if I could come in twice a week for a while, as a transition, but she didn't even answer me. I feel like she's dumping me. I was abandoned a lot as a child and while I've worked through much of it, this is still bringing up so much for me. I just don't know what to do. —Can’t Let Go
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Dear Can't Let Go,

Wow. It sounds like you feel like you’ve really had the rug pulled out from under you. It’s certainly understandable; you’ve had daily contact for three years and it has suddenly ceased. The sense of loss you are feeling is likely compounded by how literally life-saving this communication was for you. The absence of it seems to have left you feeling very alone in dealing with a tremendous amount of anxiety. You indicated that your therapist believes that you are ready for this, so I’m wondering if the two of you have discussed the possibility of this uptick in anxiety and created a plan for handling it. If not, it might be helpful to spend some time talking about this in session. While it might very well be time to eliminate this particular source of support, it makes sense to have some strategies in place to fill this void.

The therapeutic relationship that forms between a client and a therapist is a very special and unique relationship. It is healing and powerful and not at all a fantasy. From what you have said, I feel confident that your therapist does care very much about you—daily emails for three years certainly provide supporting evidence. While you did not conjure up a fantastical relationship where none actually existed, you experienced a heightened version of this already unique relationship. The therapeutic relationship is different from any other kind of relationship, in part, because it is so one-sided. The relationship is designed for the sole purpose of helping the client. Because you were suicidal, you needed even more from your therapist than someone who was not suicidal, and you got more in the form of daily emails. Now that you have made so much progress and the suicidality has abated, your therapist has eliminated the additional support that was needed to get you to where you are today.

Finally, you mention this change in the relationship is tapping into some abandonment issues. While it certainly doesn’t feel like it now, this could be a wonderful opportunity. You see, your therapist has not abandoned you; she is still there for your weekly Monday sessions. She is still there to help you through this transition, and she is still there to help you process the issues of abandonment that this is bringing up for you. Because you have faced so much abandonment in the past, you might see it in the present where it doesn’t really exist. I wouldn’t be surprised if exploring this with your therapist and coming to terms with it is one of the final steps in healing from the abandonment in your past.

Sincerely,
Sarah

Sarah Noel
Sarah Noel, MS, LMHC is a licensed psychotherapist living and working in Brooklyn, New York. She specializes in working with people who are struggling through depression, anxiety, trauma, and major life transitions. She approaches her work from a person-centered perspective, always acknowledging the people she works with as experts on themselves. She is honored and humbled on a daily basis to be able to partner with people at such critical points in their unique journeys.
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  • Andre

    Andre

    July 26th, 2013 at 11:21 AM

    I know that it must not feel like it but you should be proud to know that your therapist seems to think that you really have a handle on things and she is giving you that little bit of opportunity to see that you are stronger than you think that you are. It has to be hard to let go a little, given that this is someone who you have had in your life for a long time now, but that part won’t change. I just think that this is your time to shine and the therapist knows that without pulling away just a little you might not see that yet. I have every confidence that if they didn’t think that you were ready for this then you would not have been given this little bit of space. Take it and run- you are gonna be fine!

  • susanna

    susanna

    July 27th, 2013 at 4:37 AM

    Do you think that you have some friends who could help you start to fill this void that the discontinued emailing with your therapist has left behind?

    If you are this distressed I am sure that there is someone in your life who will help keep this chain of support going for you until you feel like you are comfortable enough to begin managing on your own a little better.

  • Brennon

    Brennon

    July 29th, 2013 at 4:34 AM

    It has to really hurt to have contact shut off just like that. I understand why you must feel hurt.

  • bonnie

    bonnie

    July 30th, 2013 at 4:42 AM

    I felt kind of the same way when my own therapy sessions ended.

    But in the end that was a good thng because I had not had the chance to really see with my own eyes just how strong I had become until I was let go a little.

    I promise that this is going to be fine, and I am sure that if you ever need her she will be there for you again.

  • Rachel

    Rachel

    July 31st, 2013 at 12:10 AM

    I’d say moving from everyday contact for three years (Its a very long duration) to once a week could put most people off.The frequency could have been reduced gradually rather than suddenly.Wouldn’t this be a better approach?Experts?

  • Colleen

    Colleen

    August 10th, 2013 at 7:25 PM

    I know how much pain you are in because my dBT therapist and psychiatrist had me invlunatrily admitted to a hospital recently and I was told over the phone I would not be permitted to continue to treat with them. I am now see a new therapist and psychiatrist and I do not beleive they fit me and I will ever trust the therapist client relationship again. It is devastating. I hope you are able to struggle through it successfully

  • Jane

    Jane

    August 15th, 2013 at 5:02 PM

    Have you thought about making a compromise here? Have you asked your therapist if you could email her every day but she doesn’t have to answer? What about exchanging emails twice a week? There seems to be so much middle ground here that you are unable to see because you feel she is abandoning you. I don’t see evidence for anything but incredible caring. If you have improved, it is time to loosen the apron strings, difficult as though it may be. You should be grieving, but this brought up so many things to work on in therapy. I believe that virtually all healing in therapy is done through the relation with the therapist and you certainly have fodder for therapy now.

  • Beverely Mason, LPC, PC

    Beverely Mason, LPC, PC

    November 4th, 2013 at 8:38 PM

    With my first therapist, I thought I would die between my weekly sessions. I panicked every day. I felt the same way you do when she retired. She gave me 3 mos. warning but I panicked. I thought a lot about it, and the next week after she told me I took her an angel figurine, thanked her for all she had done for me, and stopped therapy myself. It was not easy, but I realized I had depended too much on her and that I WAS strong enough to move on by myself. It gave me confidence in my own strength. She was my life-saving angel. Now, I am the same to others. Take a deep breath and honestly look at how strong you are. Your therapist has confidence in you.

  • Dan Stevens

    Dan Stevens

    January 21st, 2014 at 7:48 PM

    Don’t worry. I have been seeing the same therapist for 10 years. I constantly email her. She never returns my emails any more. Before I used to email her a few times a week. 1 short paragraph. I had a crises for the past 4 years and I would email her up to 20 times a week. I know that’s way over board. But as mentioned – the time between sessions seem like an eternity. She never returns my calls any more because I am sure she feels if she starts replying that I will email and call more and more. We had a 2 short email per weeks rule because it became so excessive. I abused that for 4 years now because of all the problems in my life. And ya she gives me the feeling she does not care. And yes I admit I’m a basket case. I have really bad OCD and I live in the past. She has helped me little here and there. She is not a miracle worker. But she is always pleasant. Very professional and I still feel there is good chemistry. She wants my life to go in a different direction than I want. I think this is a problem we have. So try not to take things so hard. And don’t read in to things too much. If you have a guy feeling about something then listen to it. But for the most part your therapist wants to help you – or she/he would dismiss you from her practice… Hope this helps!

  • Ash

    Ash

    February 23rd, 2014 at 3:07 PM

    You’ve become too dependent on your therapist. I once saw a counselor who helped me immensely in a short amount of time and she would start shortening the times I would see her and then one session she told me that she would be moving. I was so sad. But I got through it. Your counselor not answering your emails is her setting boundaries and it seems like she’s trying to help you by doing that. You say that she’s helped you but the truth is that she can’t help you your whole life, or her whole life for that matter. Try to become more self-sufficient and independent. It is a very good feeling and you owe it to yourself!

  • Sophy

    Sophy

    July 17th, 2014 at 6:26 PM

    It hurts when our therapists leave us and remind us that we have to bring our own strenght to continue healing. Your therapist was very kind on emailing you everyday for three years and of course she cares, and you are special and not only to her but you are special because you are, you have talents, strenghts and weaknesses, this is what makes you unique and great in your own way, now, you have to accept it, to remind yourself of that everyday several times a day until you believe in yourself completely again. It is like you were injured and she helped you and you have to walk again, and she is telling you to go, that you are strong enough. How to fill the void of her presence that she was giving with her emails?, friends, family that can email you ? or not only email, maybe make friends at the gym, yoga, the library, meetups, the theater, ballet, zumba, painting lessons, praying groups, meditation, museums, traveling, walking in the park, on line courses ( they always send you emails to encourage you),volunteering, I do not know whatever you like. The world is waiting for you to show your uniqueness. We need you.

  • jean

    jean

    August 21st, 2014 at 4:33 PM

    I have found in life that God puts certain people in our lives for certain seasons in our life and although some friendships are not lengthy, the impact they make on us can be. Her choice to let go a little bit only means she respects your strength and abilities…I would see it as a real compliment to you. Recognize the value in that season in your life to get you to the next season. best of luck, Jean

  • Candy

    Candy

    September 20th, 2014 at 8:03 PM

    My therapist has seen me for two years for cptsd from domestic violence. Her emails and texts have been a godsend to me and without them I would not be here. I continue to be harassed by my ex husband and stalked – but have been unable to lay charges. He still controls me in subtle ways with our children. My therapist went overseas for 7 weeks and on her return the email and texts ceased – she would never respond. I have been absolutely shattered as I navigated those 7 weeks alone desperately waiting her support on her return as my ex upped his harassment during this time. I saw her once since her return and then she said she would text me to rebook in a fortnight. She didn’t. I have text her since – no response. I finally got hold of her and she had forgotten about my appt. I have told her intimate details of partner abuse, abandonment issues, about family members tragic and untimely deaths, and much more – things I have never told anyone else – and now she has abandoned me too. I know far too much about her personal life and I have no idea what I suppose to do now. There is no direction. She left me too.

  • Jan

    Jan

    September 24th, 2014 at 3:37 PM

    After,reading how many therapist abandon so many clients,in so much pain, I have no trust in mental health professionals. Life does not happen between 9 and 5. I will never open up to one ever. Suicide may be an ending but if a,Christian, God takes us home where we never have to pay some therapist who if like ones I am reading about here,are only in it for the money.

    Keep your pain to yourself, take care if rapist yourself, and never open up details to some idiot therapist who gets you hooked and walks away.

    Therapist,are,a,bunch of blood suckers who have no compassion at all, only want to drain you of money, money my children needed to eat. So disappointed in this profession. Pure unlawful.

  • Jane

    Jane

    November 22nd, 2014 at 4:43 PM

    Jan,totally agree, I had one recently abandon me, made threats, and he saw me 8 months, no indication of ending therapy, no warnings at all, then said he would not give me my records, he was a former student of mine, we had a lot of the same people in our circle which I questioned first session. No one discliplines them. It is trauma in itself. I feel for you.
    I am a single mom and lost everything. We open up, they think we have no funds to pursue reporting them, they simply have no empathy, no compassion we are numbers, another dollar. I pray someone helps you and you are okay. I am rape victim bit this is why we do not seek help. No one cares, they say help is there, it is not and they need to put out the funds to pay. If you are rich you can go privately to some 35,000 place. Those of us without money, they take our last dime and drop us. I agree with your post, and will never trust another mental health professional ever again.

  • Candy

    Candy

    June 24th, 2015 at 2:53 PM

    My friend died suddenly and I had to return to another city for funeral. This city holds so many traumatic events from my past including friends past abuse, best friend killing someone in a car accident, my sister dying tragically and abandonment issues for myself. During the day in this city for funeral I experienced multiple flashbacks I could not control and returned home to my child requiring urgent surgery the next day. Throughout these two to three days I progressively fell apart to the point I couldn’t cope at all with my life. I emailed my therapist in desperation for her to speak to me. No answer. I tried again begging three or four times and received a response that she isn’t a community service. I made appointment with my GP and her compassion to just listen helped immensely. I feel totally rejected and abandoned again by my long term therapist. Should I give up?

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