Many of us worry and consider it an impossible feat to tell our boss we need an hour each week for therapy. You have tried every evening puzzle between your kids school events, after school sports and lessons, the sitter and your favorite therapist only has daytime hours available; there is only one solution- daytime appointments. So how do you handle this? What will it mean about you or what your boss thinks of you? Will it be kept confidential or become part of the office gossip? Will it cost you a promotion or cause resentment among your co-workers because you have an extra long lunch every Thursday or leave early on Mondays? Before you fire off that email, contact HR or approach your boss, lets discuss some core aspects of weekly therapy during work hours and make a plan!
Going to therapy during the workday is good for you and for your boss
You must first convince yourself before you convince your employer. Becoming a healthier person, learning coping strategies and insights into you view and communicate with others is mutually beneficial. You have to value yourself and to do that, you actually need to make choices and goals that support that belief. Take some time and examine for yourself why therapy is valuable to you and your wellbeing and you feel more empowered about the discussion with your boss.
We are lucky to be at a place in society where the stigma of therapy is getting less and less. From celebrities to commercials on TV for online therapy services, it is becoming more mainstream. Your boss likely has a friend, family member or even them self could be in therapy. Therapy is no longer shameful- your mind is just as important as your body.
You may not even have to disclose you are going to "therapy"
You should also scan your employee benefits package for flexible scheduling. This is the easiest option because you can tell your boss you have a recurrent medical appointment you need to schedule around. Providing extra information may not be necessary but be open to options such as coming in late after an early morning appointment, an extended lunch or leaving early for your appointment and working later in the week to make up that time. Many people now work remotely from home, which makes scheduling personal appointments even easier.
Under the Americans with Disabilities Act, you can keep your mental health need private. Your employer is not allowed to ask medical questions unless you are asking for a “reasonable accommodation” for a medical condition, however, scheduling work around therapy appointments is one of the specific examples the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission gives in its guide of possible accommodations employees can get. If you work for a moderate size company, you may be eligible for FMLA benefits. This is when your health care provider completes a form detailing you attend therapy and need a weekly set time for your care for a set period of time. Up to 3 months a year at 40 hours a week is the typical amount of time that can be protected. It can be reassuring to know that your employer cannot legally share this confidential information, even with your co-workers.
Go in with a Plan
Having a good idea of what you are asking for and anticipating your boss' response is key. Be prepared to discuss how you will handle your workload. Being proactive and prepared show your boss you have solutions to work issues as well as personal issues. It makes it easier for your employer to agree by showing the impact to your company will be negligible because you have it covered.