A look inside email and text therapy

It’s funny that no matter how much I grow; I catch myself resisting things simply because they’re new to me.  I’m determined not to get old before my time, which means I need to keep trying new things.

For years I resisted most forms of therapy and counseling that are offered online…which in retrospect was just ridiculous. My problem is that I was practicing therapy when the Net was brand new. I became set in my ways of doing what I do.

Talking to millennials reminds me that damn near anything can be done online and it’s not necessarily better or worse than in person. It’s just…different.

In keeping with my addictive personality, I like loop holes. In truth, I don’t practice therapy or counseling online. I do “coaching” because it’s an unlicensed and unregulated profession. It’s more flexible and empowering in some ways that traditional therapy and it’s widely accessible. The only downside is that it’s not covered by insurance and so only those who can afford to pay out of pocket tend to seek it.

The latest new thing in online coaching/therapy/counseling is text and email therapy. Once again, I approached this possibility with all the grace of an elephant on roller skates.

It occurred to me that in a very real sense, I’ve been doing counseling by email for a lot of years. Folks read my stuff and email me with questions and concerns. I answer when I can, point folks in the right direction, offer a few suggestions and think little of it.

Usually it’s a one-time thing. Sometimes, I’ve written back and forth with folks for long periods of time because they can’t or won’t go into treatment. I failed to recognize this as a business opportunity and have always just encouraged folks who write me a lot to pay what they can and chalk the rest up to earning some good karma.

I’m sharing part of a recent email counseling session because it’s a common theme. The latest person the Universe connected me to asks a great question: What do I need to let go of?

I’m safeguarding their anonymity, but suffice to say they are a survivor of trauma and have spent many years trying to forget and move on (this never works out well in terms of overall health and quality of life).

What to let go of:

First and foremost, let go of self-blame. You know deep within you that it wasn’t your fault.

Let go of suffering (experiencing pain/sadness/disappointment alone) and allow yourself to grieve (sharing pain with good people).

Let go of shame by appreciating the person you grew up to be – if you had not survived trauma, it’s unlikely you’d be helping so many so well and so often

Let go of impossible expectations of yourself – you don’t think of yourself as a perfectionist but if you look real close at where the bar is set, it’s the same thing.

Let go of anger – externalize it – break some shit while focusing on your personal anger – the stuff that’s about you and not about other’s lives.

Let go of the desire to remember it all at once. Under the category of “be careful what you wish for” – full recall is too much to take in.

Let go of the desire to forget. There is no forgetting.

Let go of “getting over it.” The only way out of it is through it.

Let go of surviving. Embrace learning how to accept, how to overcome, and how to live well.

You deserve a life second to none.

 

Jim LaPierre

About Jim LaPierre

Jim LaPierre LCSW CCS is the Executive Director of Higher Ground Services in Brewer, Maine. He is a Recovery Ally, mental health therapist and addictions counselor. He specializes in facilitating recovery (whether from addiction, trauma, depression, anxiety, or past abuse) overcome obstacles, and improve their quality of life. Jim offers a limited amount of online therapy to those with very flexible schedules.