I love this post because I haven’t seen any other blog posts about this subject, and it describes exactly how I feel! I’d be interested in knowing how many others feel the same way, and whether you have raised it with your therapist. For me, email sign-offs came up as an issue very early on with my current therapist. My ex-therapist would never have emailed between sessions and so it wasn’t a topic that we discussed. However, the very first time my current therapist sent me an email, the use of ‘Best wishes’ at the end, really grated. At the very next session I said that I hoped it was okay, but that I couldn’t sign my own emails in that way, because I felt it was far too formal for the kind of relationship that I hoped therapy would be. I didn’t ask her to change the way she signed her own emails, but from the next message she sent me, ‘Best wishes’ had gone!
The comments at the end of this post show that there are a variety of opinions on the way that individuals prefer their therapists to end emails. Some find consistency to be absolutely key, so that there is no temptation to ‘read something’ into different end phrases. Others appreciate small variations particularly when used to highlight care or support at more difficult times. My own therapist varies her email sign-offs, mostly, I believe, without any specific intention. However, there are times when it seems clear that she has used a particular word or phrase for a reason – for example, she uses ‘take care’ rarely, but when she does, it is always in response to emails and times when I have been in much more distress than usual. At other times, her sign-offs vary from simply her first initial, to her name, to ‘see you next week’, to ‘until tomorrow’, to ‘looking forward to seeing you on Tuesday’. Her use of ‘looking forward to seeing you’ is also very important to me, as it’s often easy for me to fall into the temptation of thinking that she doesn’t really want to see me three times a week, or that she finds our sessions difficult or uninteresting.
If you are in contact in between sessions, how does your own therapist end their emails? Is this something you pay attention to or that bothers you? And if so, have you addressed this with them, and what has the outcome been? I would love to hear from you!