person using laptop computer

Email Therapy: What’s it all about?

“It’s good for you to write down your thoughts. It’s therapeutic because it forces you to slow down and think about life”

Author: Katie Kacvinsky.

Putting your feelings and thoughts into words may come naturally to you, maybe you already journal or maybe you’re a writer. Maybe you just love the written word. It could be that what you feel you want to say won’t come out verbally but it will come out on paper. Whatever your reasons for being intrigued by this blog post, I will aim to explore and demystify email therapy and explain how effective it can be.

When I mention to people that I work therapeutically by email (and love it, for that matter), they ask me how this works. When we think of therapy, we think of sitting down face to face and having an hour long session with a therapist in the present moment. Working by email is different. As your therapist, I will ask you to write about 1000-1200 words which embody what you wish to bring to therapy. We will contract a date and time for this email to be sent to me by. I will then reply to your email 48 hours later. My therapeutic reply will be weaved into your email and will offer therapeutic input no different to me being sat with you face to face. The number of words I weave in will closely mirror the number you have witten. I use a secure and encrypted email account, Protonmail, so as you can be assured in the safety of your words making their way back and forth.  

When I first started training in email therapy, I was curious about how I could convey empathy and attentiveness through words in the absence of facial expressions or body language. I feel that when I work face to face I rely heavily upon all that can be conveyed and exchanged by having that close proximity to another person. Words can, however, drip with empathy and radiate warmth to a surprising level and convey a significant amount of connection and receptiveness. It is a skill that can be learnt and it is important that the therapist holds training in this area. 

Therapy by email offers a way of working that is very reflective and slower placed. If you like the idea of having time to think about and write up what you would like to bring to therapy, mulling over and reflecting on the words you are bringing, then email therapy may be for you. You can dip in and out of what you are writing, at your leisure. You do not get that sense of immediacy you get with face to face work, but you do get time. You get the words of your therapist to keep with you, to read as many times as you would like. You can print them off, write notes on them and carry them with you, read them again months or years later…something you cannot do with face to face work. 

There can be something quite nostalgic about working with the written word. You may have had a penpal when you were younger or maybe you used to keep a diary. Email therapy also offers you the chance to include some drawings in with your text if you also like working visually. It is a very open and explorative way of working and each client I work with in this way finds their unique footprint in using words therapeutically. 

It is a very flexible medium when it comes to time and location. If you work away a lot or you struggle to commit to an hour appointment fixed in time, email therapy can happen anywhere and can be written up at any point in the time before you are contracted to send it to me.

If you would like to find out more just drop me an email at info@janefellowescounselling.co.uk and I’ll happily answer any questions you might have. 

“I can shake off everything as I write; my sorrows disappear, my courage is reborn.”

Anne Frank.