This is the email I sent to K the day after our phone call at the start of October. I’ve not heard from her so I assume this means she’s open to a trial of online therapy with me, or at least hasn’t reflected and decided it’s not possible yet…
Thank you for the phone call yesterday, it was helpful to connect in-person and to be able to explain where I am and hear your thoughts. I didn’t feel triggered after speaking and the parts are not going mad, which I hope also helps you to see that things really are not how they used to be and that I would be able to engage with online work in a way I couldn’t last year.
I have shortened this email as much as I can but it feels so very important that everything I want to say is laid out at this time. All I am really asking is that you let me know, once you’ve had some time to reflect, whether you are open to trying online work again. I am happy to wait until you have a space, and I know we would need another discussion at that time to decide how to move forward so I’m not asking you to commit to anything at the moment. I just don’t want to email again in January (assuming you have no spaces before that – please let me know if you do) and find myself in the same position as last week.
After speaking I am even more sure that returning to online therapy is the right thing for me, or that we should at least trial this for a set number of sessions to see how it is. I understand your reluctance to keep me waiting till you have a space only to find out that working online again is a disaster. I am prepared to take this risk though, because it would mean we had tried and then had a proper ending if it didn’t work, and because I am confident that I am in a different enough place now for it to work. I strongly believe that it would be better for me to work online with you than to move to someone else at this point in my healing journey. If you decide that you really can’t work online with me again (and I hope so much that you are open to at least trying) then it would be good to hear from you as soon as possible after you reach this decision, so that we can make a plan together for how to end our work appropriately.
I agree with you that ideally depth psychotherapy requires therapist and client to be in the same room, but I maintain that the level of attunement and understanding I would get from you via online therapy would far surpass what I could get in the room from someone else (I am reliably informed that we spent 550 hours in the room together after all!). Even in our brief phone call, when we’d not spoken for over a year, I could feel you were so attuned and were listening deeply to what I was saying (‘listening with all your ears’) and for me this is a rare thing. I so often experience other people (friends and professionals) struggling to follow or engage with what I’m saying because it does not fit their frame of reference and yet something in you and something between us means you seem to always understand what is going on for me. Your skills and knowledge as a therapist and the areas you have chosen to specialise in, alongside our five-year history – which was not just ‘once a week for an hour’ therapy as you know, it was intense! – and the narrative we have woven together mean you have such in-depth knowledge and understanding of all of me. I trust you to understand things I tell you in a way I’ve never trusted anyone else and it also means I don’t have to go through a whole triggering backstory to explain something that is affecting me now – you hold it all already. I have found so many professionals and practitioners do not understand the complexity of the spectrum of things that affect me and say things that grate or trigger or belie a total lack of understanding about trauma and dissociation. There are also not masses of therapists I could work with anyway, so I don’t even know where I would go – I’ve looked on and off for well over a year now and not come across anyone willing or able to competently work with complex dissociative disorders and disorganised attachment.
I truly believe that our story is not over – I think I would have let you go already if it was time for me to do that. As I said yesterday, this is not about me wanting to work with you forever but that I don’t want to lose you now, in a way that cuts short our journey and does not integrate the loss as a part of the natural process of our work. I remember your reassurances last summer when I was so scared that we were ending without either of us knowing that is what was happening. You said there would be fears about not being able to come back but that we had to trust that somewhere it would all be okay. I have held onto this trust and the deep knowing we all had at the time that this is not the end. In my view leaving things as they are – suspended and unfinished and with open boxes everywhere – and then letting our work drift and fade into nothing would be far more damaging to my psyche than for us to try and fail and need to end anyway. At least then we would know we had tried and would be able to draw in the threads of our work and reflect together in a way that honours our journey, before saying our final goodbyes.
I do understand your reticence to work online with me again because you’ve not yet witnessed the changes in me that would make this possible. For my system at that time, with the world crashing down around us and no idea what was going to happen, it was heartbreaking and terrifying to not be able to physically reach our safe space with you. As I hope you could tell, I had to do a lot of work around processing the end of our in-person work earlier this year – I knew I had to do this before I could even contemplate returning to online work. I want something different from therapy now because I am not how I was and in the past 18 months we’ve created so much safety inside ourselves and in our home and we are able to come back to that when we need to (it takes a while sometimes, but it is always there now). The certainty I have that it is right for me to continue working with you therefore comes from a very adult place and is a voice I am learning to trust.
Please know I would not put myself through something detrimental for my well-being; if it wasn’t working or wasn’t helping me then I wouldn’t cling on at all costs. We would both see what was happening and we could then have a proper ending while I considered what to do next.
There are also big things ahead in my life that I always assumed I would have your support through (most especially deciding what to do around seeing Mum as she gets older/ill/near death, decisions around [my brother], things that are arising for me in terms of Nina and my dad that are not urgent but are lurking and in need of attention at some point, and the possibility of entering a new relationship one day (which I am in no hurry to do with a 14 year old at home, but will want one day I think). I think I always imagined if we were to end before I had confronted these things that we would at least have tied up some ends, put things away more neatly into their boxes, and then considered how I would best be supported with them in future. I would honestly find it devastating and detrimental to my healing to never be able to talk to you about these things again because they were such a huge part of our work and we talked of how important they would continue to be. I would want to really draw together all we uncovered together around the various themes in my life, so that it all made as much sense as possible and I knew what could be left in the past and what still needed work.
I’ve taken a leap of faith and been as open and honest as I can be with you in my last two emails and on the phone yesterday. I hope the basis on which I am asking for us to trial working online again is clear and that you can see it is not a misplaced wish on my part. As agreed, I will email again in 3 months but please do let me know if you have space before then to start a trial (if you are in agreement that we could do this, once you’ve had time to reflect on our conversation yesterday). I can do any time and day and this will not change as I’ve been through Occupational Health now and have a reasonable adjustment in place around appointments like this.
With warm wishes,