The COVID-19 pandemic, for all of its heartache and inconvenience, has encouraged many of us to extend more grace. Friends may not respond to texts right away, grieving coworkers may not be upbeat, and our families might be dealing with anxieties and difficulties they can’t express. Part of adjusting has involved accessing compassion for ourselves and others. But one person you might overlook, especially if you use them as a coping strategy, is your mental health professional. So what happens when your therapist’s challenges spill over into your sessions? What do you do if they ghost you, take a sudden leave of absence, or even pass away?
“Your therapist is human,” Emily Jamea, Ph.D., LMFT, tells SELF, adding that it’s natural to gloss over this unavoidable truth. Why? If your therapist never discloses anything about their personal life, it’s easy to forget that they have bad days, experience grief, get bad cramps, or flip people off in traffic (just like you). Yes, intellectually you know that your therapist is a person, but if thinking about them buying ice cream at your local convenience store on a Friday night seems weird, you’ve probably made them less human in your mind. “Practicing compassion for your therapist can help soften the sting of loss,” Dr. Jamea explains.