Self

I Was Ghosted By My Therapist

Photo: fizkes / Shutterstock
confused woman looking at phone

“Hi! This is Eloise calling! Could you give me a ring back when you get a second, just to arrange your next appointment? Thank you! Bye!”

How strange. As far as I know, I’m around halfway through trauma-focused CBT. I won’t bore you with the technicalities, but the way I see it I’m in the really fun stage of healing from PTSD where I purposely trigger flashbacks to try and file the memories nice and neatly (and finally processed) back in my brain.

It’s exhausting. It exacerbates every single symptom.

But, it has to get worse for it to get better — and I personally quite enjoy the idea of a life not plagued by paranoia, disassociation, and flashbacks. Fun, right?

RELATED: How To Respond To Ghosting: 10 Ways To Stay Calm And Move On

Let’s head back to a week prior.

It’s Wednesday, 9 am, and as per usual I’m sitting cross-legged in my bed in the virtual waiting room, waiting for my therapist to turn up.

5 minutes pass: Hmm, she must be running late.

15 minutes: This is strange.

30 minutes: Oh god, what if she’s dead? Do I call the police? Do I call the receptionist? What if I don’t do anything and the next time I see her it’s because her body has been found and she’s on the news?

32 minutes: She’s probably just late, I’ll see her next week.

Your therapist missing an appointment with no notice is certainly a bit strange, but it’s not the end of the world. Then I get this phone call. Why would I need to book more appointments when I have a regular slot? It seems kind of sketch.

So, I give Eloise a callback. Low and behold, I’m getting a new therapist. No reason was given why. Eloise thought it was strange that I hadn’t been told beforehand; not to worry, though! She’s sure the new one will be just as good!

So, what do you do when your therapist ghosts you?

If you’re anything like me, you’re about to go through the five stages of grief. At first, I was convinced it was some kind of a mistake. Then I got angry, really angry. I bore my soul to this woman. She knew the worst things that had ever happened to me. Then she just left: no reason or explanation. Gone.

Next, bargaining. If only I had been a better patient maybe she would have stayed. Maybe what had happened to me was too messed up for her to hear. If only I’d have tried harder and healed faster.

Then, the quiet. I hit a brick wall. Where do I go from here? What’s the point in going through the whole process again with someone new? What if they leave too? What if they don’t get me as she did?

In a way, being ghosted by my therapist hurt more than any friend or partner could. Whilst I was in the thick of healing, I had an unfairly negative view of people. I expected them to leave me and if they didn’t, I saw it as a poor judgment on their behalf. I felt safer alone.

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But a therapist felt different. She was being paid to put up with me, and she wasn’t directly involved in my life so much of my messy behavior didn’t really affect her.

It felt entirely my fault. I’d somehow managed to push away the person who was meant to help me fix myself. Usually, if I was feeling this type of way, I’d talk to my therapist about it. But she left. I was alone. 

Finally, acceptance. It had nothing to do with me at all. When people go to therapy, they tend to place their therapist on a pedestal. But, the truth is that they don’t have all the answers. They don’t always get things right. Sometimes they abandon their client’s mid-way through a course of treatment without any prior warning.

RELATED: Exactly What To Do — And More Importantly, What Not To Do  After Being Ghosted

At first, because I held my therapist in such high regard, I assumed there was some kind of failure on my part. There wasn’t.

I raked my brain for what the reason why could have been: a new job, family issues, health. I’ll never know the reason she left; I don’t need to. She is a human as you and I, and even if her ghosting hurt me — it says nothing about me as a person. 

What do you do after you’ve finished grieving? You pull yourself up by the bootstraps and you get yourself back to therapy.

Finding a new therapist isn’t fun. Getting them up to date on your situation can be tiring. When you’re used to one person’s style of helping, getting used to another can feel strange. But different isn’t necessarily bad.

And, if you don’t mesh well with your new therapist you are allowed to ask for a new one, again and again, until you find someone that feels right for you.

If there’s one thing I really recommend, it’s chatting out your previous therapy situation with your new therapist. They won’t reassure you that they’ll never leave; they might. But, they can help you work through how that made you feel and why it made you feel that way. 

Let’s be honest: being ghosted by anyone isn’t exactly fun and games, especially when it’s so unexpected. But, it’s not the end of the world.

Laugh about it, cry, stare at a wall and hit a pillow. Let yourself feel all your emotions in their entirety. Then, pick yourself up and start to put yourself back together.

Setbacks happen all the time, in all aspects of life.

Facing a hurdle is not a sign you should stop. It’s not a reason to fall back into old habits. Healing is hard, but it is worth it. So, what do you do when your therapist ghosts you? You get a new therapist.

RELATED: 9 Reasons It's So Difficult To Move On After Being Ghosted - And What To Do About It

Lizzie Marney is an author. Follow her on Twitter.

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This article was originally published at The Everyday Magazine. Reprinted with permission from the author.