View Full Version : Therapist- contact between sessions, etc

11-27-2011, 01:52 PM
(not quite sure where to post this!)

I have been seeing a new therapist for a few months (privately, psychoanalyst) and she has said, encouraged even that I should phone/text her inbetween sessions, if I find myself in distress. Then a couple of weeks back. I was v distressed in the session and she suggested we extended the session for a while, as she had time that particular day. I am a trained counsellor myself and I was always taught that contact between sessions and extending time should be discouraged (boundaries, etc) and may indicate poor management of the therapeutic frame on behalf of the therapist.

Yet with this lady, it feels like it could be ok ( and she addressed the extended session the next time we met). I am not sure that I would contact her, but it helps to know that she is there. I have raised my concerns with her and she pointed out (nicely) that she has years of experience and that she manages things a bit differently. Otherwise, her boundaries are tight (same time each week, etc)

The whole thing feels very safe and well managed, but I was just wondering what other people's experiences might be?


11-27-2011, 02:46 PM
I'm in a CBT group therapy program, and the two therapists who run it also encourage us to call/email if we find ourselves in distress. I think you should trust your intuition, and if you ever feel uncomfortable do address it with her.

11-27-2011, 03:29 PM
Thanks :) I do feel that I could address it with her, I guess it just feels a bit unfamiliar :)

11-27-2011, 04:30 PM
Hi Nicki,

My T allows contact between sessions. She encourages me to call if i have any problems or if I need additional support. I don't like talking on the phone, but I've emailed her a couple of times and she was fine with that.

I was with my former therapist for two years, and she also said I could call and email as much as I wanted to. I was really trying to figure out her boundaries, and I asked her if she would be mad if I emailed ten times a day (not that I would, but I wanted to gauge her reaction). She said she would be fine with that. I asked her if she would *respond* to each email, and she said she would use her judgement and do what she was able to do.

I don't think it's unusual for therapists to offer support in-between sessions. I don't think it's unusual for them to not offer it. I think it's just individual. And it's nice to have that option! :shy:winky

11-27-2011, 04:45 PM
My T was a PsyD and very well respected in her field (Eds/trauma related disorders) with very strong personal boundaries. Yet when working on tough issues and during a period where I was particularly emotionally vulnerable she would extend sessions if needed (and possible) and contact between sessions was encouraged even though I was seeing her three days a week at that point.

This was not something I ever abused but there were times when I was in the midst of an emotional crises at home and being able reach out to her helped tremendously. The phone contact was often only ten minutes or so, it was certainly not a session, but long enough to talk me through a situation and help me feel more grounded and in control.

I have known therapist with bad boundaries who allowed outside contact to the point that it really seemed to fuel dependency but a good therapist knows where to draw the line and what clients can appropriately handle outside contact and which ones it would only enable.

11-27-2011, 05:13 PM
I've never had a t discourage contact between sessions and I would feel odd if I couldn't have support if I was in distress. I think a t should be flexible to fit the needs of their client as long as the contact is for support and not crossing the boundary.

11-28-2011, 02:43 AM
Thanks everyone, it is good to get some different experiences and perspectives. The more I think about it, the more I feel that my training was very good and very solid, but that it doesn't have to be like that out in the real world. I will definitely speak to my T about this when I next see her :D

Thanks again!

01-01-2012, 08:54 PM
Just a quick note that some therapies, like dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT) have phone contact (called skills coaching usually) as a part of the treatment. It's part of the basis of the therapy. You can always check in with her to see how/why she approaches treatment like this. :happy

01-02-2012, 03:20 PM
I was also able to contact my previous T between sessions. It was incredibly helpful because I had no social support network, and it often made me feel safe and not alone.

And it was an amazing journey with her because over time I realised that I needed her reassurance less and less, so it was like seeing my own strength in terms of being able to look after myself.

I ended with this T at the end of last year, and even now that I don't see her any longer I often think about what she would say to me if we were together now. It works, I have somehow interalised her support and no longer need her to be there.

The fact that she supported me so incredibly and stretched the boundaries very much has given me a feeling of being important to her, that she truly cares and that I am unconditionally accepted as a person. This is the feeling I am taking with me on my future journey.

All the best with your T.

01-03-2012, 07:19 PM
This may be my ignorance speaking here but isn't it mostly those that are rigidly psychodynamic that tend to discourage it?

And those that are trained to use multi approaches or use a Humanistic approach are more flexible? But that it probably depends largely on the client and what needs to be dealt with.
I have also heard that developing a proper report may be what is most effective in therapy and then it makes sense that a t doing something for the genuine well being of their client would be the right approach.

01-03-2012, 07:40 PM

I just clicked as read your previous thread when you posted it.
I wonder if you also want to discuss how this flexibility with boundaries makes you feel? What thoughts it brings up?

I think you said you have attachment issues and tend to get fixated on mother figures. ?
Is this part of what is worrying you here?

01-04-2012, 12:49 AM
I think it depends on the individual situation. I can say that I have had a therapist who would let me contact her (not give me her private number) but someone else who knew her would reach her for me in between sessions for me at times. I have reached my current therapist at her office between sessions at times in times of true despair or stress.

Other professionals I have worked with in other fields have given me their cell phone numbers, connected with me on facebook and emailed me which at times has been a problem if I abused it but currently isn't a problem for me.

Good luck in your decision. I think it varies on what you are comfortable with and what you feel is right for you.

01-05-2012, 09:31 AM
I had one therapist who gave me home, work, cell and e-mail contacts. I over-used them. I had never experienced therapy like that and did not know how to handle having someone so willing to help me. She called me her friend and led me to think we had a special relationship. I was confused and eventually when I quit seeing her I was hurt and left without any sense of closure. I'm still suffering from it and yearn for that relationship.

My point is just be careful.

All other therapists I have seen have only allowed contact in sessions and a number to call if I had an emergency like a suicidal thought or something severe.

Just my experience.