Therapy Alibi
September 18, 2007 4:41 PM   Subscribe

recently started going to therapy. how do i explain (or not explain) to co-workers why i am missing an hour of work every week?

just started going to therapy for a pretty personal issue. i am going for an hour a week. the only time slot my therapist is available is a time that i am normally at work. i am lucky enough that missing an hour here and there is not a big deal at my place of employment -- as long as your work gets done no one cares too much. but we do have a lot of meetings, so it's we try to let everyone know when we'll be out.

my co-workers are all very nice, but i have absolutely no desire to let them know that i'm going to therapy or why. how can i be informative (e.g. i will be out every wednesday from 5-6 for the next four weeks) without giving up the whole truth? i'm not opposed to the white lie ("i'm seeing a physical therapist about carpal tunnel" or something), but worry that then someone will say, "hey, i need one of those, who do you go to?" which will land me in awkwardsville.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (32 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
All you should really need to say is "I have an appointment" (or "a doctor's appointment"). That draws a pretty clear boundary about how much information you're comfortable sharing, and encourages normal people not to ask for more.

If you are female, and it becomes necessary, I also find that implying a visit to the gynecologist gets people to butt out pretty quickly.
posted by Siobhan at 4:49 PM on September 18, 2007

I just say that I have a doctor's appointment and leave it at that. If you're going at the same time every week, people might guess that you're seeing a therapist, but you owe it to no-one to explain why. If anybody asks, just say it's personal.
posted by callmejay at 4:49 PM on September 18, 2007

If they do get too nosy--and believe me, I'm a big fan of the Nosey Parker Smackdown--and you feel you must say something, say it's physio for some random childhood injury that's been bugging you a bit.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 4:52 PM on September 18, 2007

Do not tell a white lie about PT, because anything that requires weekly visits will inevitably result in them being concerned for you, which will just make you feel bad. And PT isn't generally considered a very private thing, in my personal experience, so if you say you have a PT appointment, people just ask for more info. Which will make you feel bad for lying.
posted by smackfu at 4:53 PM on September 18, 2007

Just be vague. "I have an appointment every week at that time." If they ask further, which is vaguely unlikely, since most people don't care enough about your life to be nosy, "Just a personal appointment." should take care of the followup.
posted by jacquilynne at 4:57 PM on September 18, 2007

The dentist makes a good convincing white lie. Ongoing dental treatment is normal (just say root canal and everyone will wince and not ask much more).

If your company uses something like outlook or notes to schedule meetings, block out your appointment times and note them as out-of-office or something generic. When someone schedules a meeting at my office, they usually invite the necessary people, then let outlook "choose" the next free time for all invitees. If you block your needed time off, they won't schedule meetings with you for that time, and usually won't even notice why.
posted by BigVACub at 5:04 PM on September 18, 2007

I laugh gaily and say in a cheery voice "I'm off to see my shrink!"

Nobody has ever had the nerve to inquire further.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 5:15 PM on September 18, 2007 [4 favorites]

Nearly everyone answering a similar question in this thread said "just say you have an appointment" too.
posted by salvia at 6:01 PM on September 18, 2007

We have people where I work who say "Appointment." I assume it's a therapist, but I really don't care and don't judge them for it.
posted by sweetkid at 6:10 PM on September 18, 2007

In high school, I tended to answer like I_am_joe's_spleen.

Recently, when I have a date that I'd rather not elaborate upon, I just say that I'm meeting my mistress at Motel 6.
posted by Netzapper at 6:16 PM on September 18, 2007

Doctor's appointment is it.
posted by Ironmouth at 6:28 PM on September 18, 2007

"I have a personal, non-work-related commitment." That's a polite way to say "Don't ask me anything else about it."
posted by amyms at 6:28 PM on September 18, 2007

I think it is a rare modern day workplace where nobody has been to see a therapist. I'll bet most of the people you work with have been in therapy at one time or another.
posted by pluckysparrow at 6:32 PM on September 18, 2007

I like "I've got some things to take care of over the next few weeks, I'll be out at these times".
posted by inigo2 at 6:35 PM on September 18, 2007

What jacquilynne said.
posted by desuetude at 6:38 PM on September 18, 2007

Just say "I will be out every wednesday from 5-6 for the next four weeks." Why? "Because I have a weekly meeting with the Royal Order of the United Brotherhood of It Ain't None Of Your Goddamn Business." (via) Or just say I have a commitment.
posted by ALongDecember at 6:48 PM on September 18, 2007 [1 favorite]

you know, you might be able to go more under the radar with this, if you want: when people are proposing meeting times, just say, "wednesdays from 2-3 are no good for me, sorry." and if there's only one or two people who do the scheduling, you can just tell them.
posted by thinkingwoman at 7:01 PM on September 18, 2007

I have a coworker who sees a chiropractor regularly. This is so banal that it doesn't inspire prying questions, and it totally makes sense that it'd be a weekly thing. So if you want to go the little white lie route, this might be a good one.
posted by brett at 7:20 PM on September 18, 2007 [2 favorites]

Say you have a doctor's appointment. IMO, providing any more detail than that, no matter what kind of doctor it is, is not only unnecessary -- it's inappropriate for the workplace.

If you are questioned -- and only a rude and clueless person would ask -- look at them over the tops of your glasses and ask "Why do you need to know?"
posted by ottereroticist at 7:53 PM on September 18, 2007 [1 favorite]

i just say appoinment. 'doctor's appoinment' is not necessary.
posted by brandz at 8:18 PM on September 18, 2007

Music lessons

You're going to work out

Schedule after or before work, or during lunch hours
posted by RustyBrooks at 8:51 PM on September 18, 2007

I think people can be nosy when they are more just trying to be conversational, so I would go with a good lie. Also the I have an appointment, dead silence, thing is such a giveaway. It's like when you ask someone how they met their new bf/gf and they say "oh I've just know him/her around for awhile" or "oh they are friends with my friend from college, yeah she was at that one party you and no one you know went to" that they actually met on casual encounters on craigslist.

Do you have an older neighbor or relative that can't drive? Can you make one up? Niece or nephew need a ride home from their piano lessons, you know it's all the way across town, and yeah its annoying, but your sister is going through a rough time so your doing this for her once a week. Get creative and make yourself sound good at the same time.
posted by whoaali at 8:57 PM on September 18, 2007

I like the chiropractor excuse, if you must. One of my coworkers has an appt. with the chiropractor every week, and it is quite possible that she's really seeing a therapist.
posted by clh at 11:07 PM on September 18, 2007

Just say you're seeing a therapist in order to get over your inclination for violence towards nosy people. :-)

Secretary: I'm taking a personal day tomorrow.
Martin: (concerned) Oh? Is anything wrong?
Secretary: (crossly) IT'S PERSONAL!
(HBO "Dream On". A favorite vignette)
posted by Goofyy at 12:40 AM on September 19, 2007

If you like lying, say you're getting an allergy shot. Or physical therapy for your bum knee. Or shiatsu.
posted by SassHat at 4:59 AM on September 19, 2007

nthing the chiropractor idea
posted by Jake Apathy at 6:38 AM on September 19, 2007

I think people will guess unless you can get your therapist to stagger your appt time. But you don't owe them an explanation. Just say you have an appt.
posted by chickaboo at 7:21 AM on September 19, 2007

Allergy shots are a good excuse if one is necessary. For the first year plus of immunotherapy you have to go to the doctor's office, wait for shots and stay in the office for 20 minutes to make sure you don't have a reaction.

If you use a shared calendar like Outlook or iCal, consider putting a dummy appointment in, marked as "Out of Office" and "Private" so that no one will schedule a meeting with you during that time.
posted by L'homme armé at 7:56 AM on September 19, 2007 [1 favorite]

Tell them you are seeing your Chiropracter for an adjustment they might think you are a fool for believing in that stuff but at least they wont consider you a nut.
posted by Rolandkorn at 11:32 AM on September 19, 2007

i'm with i_am_joe's_spleen. Nobody cares if you're going to a shrink or not, I just flat out say it if someone asks.
posted by jenfullmoon at 12:09 PM on September 20, 2007

I just say "I have a doctor's appointment." Since basically everyone goes to the doctor for something, I've never been pressed as to why. If someone does ask I just say "routine appointment."
posted by SisterHavana at 2:50 PM on September 21, 2007

What about explaining weekly appointments when you are interviewing for a new job. Is it something that should be brought up in the interview? I see my therapist weekly. Right now, my current workplace has more flexible hours so I've been able to manage. If I apply for this new job, the hours will be the usual 8-5 which are outside of my therapist's normal hours. How do I handle this?
posted by onlyinhope at 9:52 PM on December 13, 2007

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