Insensitive email from therapist before DH's cancer surgery

posted 1 year ago in Wellness
Post # 16
10456 posts
Sugar Beekeeper
  • Wedding: City, State

rusticchic212 :  

First, let me say that I am very sorry to hear of your husband’s diagnosis.  I can’t even imagine what a shock that must have been for both of you, at his young age.  Will be sending good energy your way.  My Dh had prostate cancer last year.  It was caught in the early stages and it’s a very slow grower.  One treatment of placing radioactive seeds directly into the prostate and poof!  No more cancer.  But, you would want to avoid sitting on his lap for awhile.

As for your therapist, in this case, you’re both right.  You certainly had an unimpeachable reason for canceling.

At the same time, I get the therapist’s point, too.  Continuity is a big part of therapy.  After a given number of cancellations, no matter how valid, the therapist may start to suspect some resistance from the client.

And, a very BFD—you snagged the much coveted 7:30 pm time slot.  It is kind of unfair to others who could really benefit from that hour.

I don’t know that I would call her ‘insensitive’ based on that note.  It sounds like she’s trying to keep her business on course.  Therapy is a business, after all, no different than the doctor or dentist.

I also think you’re reeling and understandably so.  Your nerves are likely much more raw than usual and things are going to hit you harder until you get your bearings back.  

The takeaway on this and a multitude of other uncomfortable situations that pop up:  don’t take it personally. 

Post # 18
1173 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: January 2021 - City, State

I don’t think this email is harsh or insensitive,  i suspect you’re overreacting. To me it seems that you have cancelled more than one appointment because you’re packing for trips away, or other things, how would you feel in the therapists situation? You’ve no idea how long their waiting list is, to be constantly cancelled on, even with 24 hours notice when they’ve got other people possibly waiting who could possibly come regularly and not miss is not super okay.

Your circumstaces do suck, yes but your therapist also has a business to run and constant cancellations affect their income

Post # 19
150 posts
Blushing bee
  • Wedding: November 2019

I don’t know. I feel like the wording could have been a little better, but they probably just wanted to make you aware that cancelling can’t be an ongoing thing. It’s tricky though, because even if you had an appointment during the day, what if you had a work meeting or something where you had to cancel? I can’t imagine you’re their only client that ever cancels, but I can see how the time slot preference is probably factoring into their decision to bring it up as well. Anyways, good luck to you and your husband and well wishes for a fast recovery. 

Post # 20
1639 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: October 2019

rusticchic212 :  You’re right. They could have been more caring towards you. Since you have eluded to this being the last straw for you, perhaps it is time to find a new therapist. It’s OK to get a new one. I had one before my current one that I thought was good but in retrospect was actually horrible. 

Good luck to you and your husband!

Post # 21
71 posts
Worker bee

Sorry Bee, but I think that you’re being too sensitive about it. Things do come up and you have the right to cancel, but they have the right to let you know that it’s also an inconvenience to them. From their perspective, it’s their livelihood and you have canceled “a lot” when they could fill that spot with someone else. Your husband’s surgery is a true reason to cancel, but you said yourself that the email would be justified if it wasn’t for the circumstances. I think your therapist just had to finally let you know, seems like it was pretty polite, that you kinda cancel a lot and this is an email of notice.

Keep in mind that any therapist who has a steady clientele would feel this way.  So if you get a new one and have to cancel a lot (even with appropriate notice) they might eventually say the same thing. Try not to take it personally bee. 

My dad has a nurse come to check on him twice a week due to some serious health problems. This was mandated by his medical coverage. However, in the past 3 months, he’s had to cancel at least every other week due to being hospitalized for the very same health problems that resulted in a nurse being assigned to him at home. Now the nursing agency has said that he cancels too much and are doing a review to see if they need to offer less coverage or cancel it all together because that nurse could be seeing other patients. So the nurse is there to help him but it’s still a business.

I still feel for you though. Don’t let it upset you. If you love this therapist then try and make more of an effort not to cancel as much even though that’s hard because life happens. If you try to get a new one then explain upfront about scheduling. Whatever happens, I’m sending you and your hubby positive vibes for the surgery, and I applaud you for keeping your mental health in check. 

Post # 23
6317 posts
Bee Keeper
  • Wedding: February 1997

I am so sorry about your Dh’s diagnosis, and I wish you both the very best in his treatment and recovery.

However, I do not think your therapist was harsh at all. While it might have been nice for them to wish you well regarding the surgery, you have cancelled on them a minimum of 5 times now in 9 months, and that’s not including times you say you have let them know in advance about being out of town or work commitments. Depending on how many times that was, the numbers indicate you have been cancelling a fair amount. If there were, say, three other times you had cancelled for long weekends or other things, that would make 8 total, and assuming 36 appointments in nince months, that would mean you have cancelled more than one in every five appointments. I can see how that could be an issue.

Perhaps this was not the proper time for the therapist to bring it up, but I do think it needs to be addressed. You said you like this person because they are direct, so if you value that, you need to understand that direct can sometimes come across as blunt or even insensitive, but I don’t think it was intended that way. As others have suggested, perhaps you need to find a therapist with more flexibility or one that’s more convenient for you to attend.

Post # 24
2533 posts
Sugar bee

I mean, Darling Husband and I go to therapy, and there are times we’ve canceled and it’s not really a problem. Our therapist emails her other clients who she knows likes her late time slot, and they take it. 

It’s not like OP has done this last minute and left no time for things to be moved around. 

And it’s not like this could be construed as her “not taking it seriously” as there is obviously something much more important and pressing going on, which takes priority. 

I agree that therapy is a business and she is well within her rights to state that she dislikes the cancellations. 

But I also think OP is well within her rights if she decides she’d rather see a therapist who has the compassion and tact to NOT state such a thing at a time like this. Or EVEN just soften the statement with a “good luck.” 

It’s pretty self-centered to place your own business (marginally impacted by 2 cancellations with plenty of notice) above the feelings of your client who is dealing with a potentially life or death crisis.

Post # 25
5202 posts
Bee Keeper
  • Wedding: October 2017

duchessgummybunns :  

Honestly, everyone is looking at it from a business stand point, but she has other patients that she cares about. I looked at it as she has patients that want to be seen at that time but they can’t be scheduled because op has a standing appointment every week. These two cancellations make 5 cancellations in 9 months, not including her being out of town

Yes, this is a bad time but she’s cancelled before because she has to pack for a long weekend.

It does show a lack of interest.

She also likes the direct nature of this therapist, and that’s exactly what the email was.

If you see a therapist who you feel is only in it for your money, or insurance payment, you should probably find another one who you feel actually cares about you

Post # 26
1096 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: City, State

rusticchic212 :  no, you aren’t a good fit. You want someone to block out time for you on their schedule, while you just aren’t as committed. You have canceled a lot.

Other people can benefit from the time slot. If it doesn’t work for you, let someone else have it.


Post # 27
5202 posts
Bee Keeper
  • Wedding: October 2017

Or, if once a week isn’t working for you and you really want to see this therapist, why not go every two weeks instead?

Post # 30
4388 posts
Honey bee

I think it was mostly professionally worded.  Not warm, nor cold – just matter of fact.  Your therapist is not your buddy.  Presumably they know about your husband’s condition via your discussions in therapy, which to me means it is inappropriate to mention it outside the context of your confidential therapy sessions.  My guess is they will inquire about the status of your husband when you attend your next session as it pertains to your mental health.

This email was strictly about the business portion of your relationship.  And by my count you’ve canceled over 5 appointments (this was 4 and 5, you mentioned three others and then implied there were other occasions for going out of town).  That is a lot regardless of whether it was at least 24 hours notice (though you don’t mention how long you have seen this therapist – 5+ over 6 years is different than 5+ over 6 months) – and it affects your therapeutic process and means another client possibly in crisis potentially loses out on being seen consistently because they have been prioritizing you in that slot instead.  

Based on my experience doing scheduling for a therapist, I guarantee they hear a lot of excuses.  Husband in the hospital is legit, but things like trips you could postpone your leave time to accommodate the appointment you committed to…maybe not.  I also heard about a lot of sick family members, car trouble, late meetings or babysitting or….maybe it was true sometimes, maybe not.  You learn to just make a blanket rule about this sort of thing and call clients out because in this line of work it is often the pathology of their mental illness to want to avoid confronting their issues And do that work.

And I have been the flake before (some were legit illness related things) and gotten the hardlined email from someone before because of it (it wasn’t therapy, but was something with a standing weekly appointment).  And it stung, especially since I’m close to the business owner who called me out.  But she has a business to run and has to put all of her clients interests in perspective.  So it sucked and I had to lick my wounds a bit because I was hurt and embarrassed and we moved on and I made sure to recommit myself to attending and only canceling under extreme emergency.

So I get it.  It is a hard email to get, especially being worried about your husband’s health, but I don’t think your therapist was exactly out of line or doing anything unusual for that line of work.  They are just seeking acknowledgement that you plan to be firmly committed to this timeslot and your therapeutic plan.

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