Dr. Pete, the Shrink with Social Phobia

Every 3rd Thursday, I meet up with Dr. Pete for what is known in the field as “peer supervision.” This is a time to discuss our work and help each other out when dealing with difficult issues that invariably arise in private psychotherapy practice. Walking down 2nd Avenue, we were confronted with Dr. Pete’s worst nightmare: bumping into a current patient outside the office. This situation is usually quite awkward for both parties. Consider taking a relationship that is generally confined to a small space for a mere 45 minutes per week, where the focus is clearly on one person’s most intimate and troubling thoughts and feelings, and suddenly, unexpectedly making it a social engagement. This uncomfortable situation is exacerbated if the patient is with another person who is not even aware of the current dynamic.

For Dr. Pete this is even more troublesome, as his professional and non-professional personalities are quite disparate. In the office he is warm, personable and empathic. A razor-sharp clinician. When not working, however, poor Dr. Pete is actually very shy, unconfident and even somewhat frightened of social contact. I don’t quite get how he manages to pull off this double life. He basically suffers from Social Phobia when he’s not working, a condition that doesn’t often go into remission so predictably and regularly. He told me that he takes beta-blockers (pills that subdue the physiological changes that occur during anxiety) at work, which would explain part of it but that can’t be everything. “I just put on my game face in the office,” is all I can get out of him when I push for a more satisfactory answer. He’s probably taking drugs, smoking pot, or engaging in some other illicit form of relaxation that he won’t tell me about.


Unfortunately for Dr. Pete, his current patient “Don,” who is now standing 2 feet in front of us outside of a grocery store, has a huge smile of recognition on his face, and what appears to be his girlfriend in tow. Because we’re not in the office today, Dr. Pete is medication-free and I can detect the panic on his face.

“Dr. Pete!” screams Don at an unnecessary volume.

Therapist Rule 1: Unless a client/patient addresses you, do not make any form of contact. It is the therapist’s responsibility to ensure clients are not unnecessarily made to feel awkward or uncomfortable outside of the office. Due to his calamity, Dr. Pete obviously has no problem with this rule.

Clumsily, Dr. Pete answers. “Hi Don. Um, how are you?”

“Great, great! Just great! What are you up to?”

Therapist Rule 2: Do not unnecessarily disclose excessive personal information, especially outside of the office.

“I’m just, just going for a walk in the park with my colleague Dr. Rob,” he stammers.

Don probably thinks we’re gay at this point as you don’t often see two shrinks walking in the park together. I should chime in that we’re on our way to a lesbian mud wrestling match on this fine morning, but I’m too enraptured with Dr. Pete’s misery.

“This is my new lady, Darla,” Don points out.

“Hello Darla!” I cheerfully shout, extending my hand.

“Darla already knows about us, Dr. Pete,” Don explains. “I just told her about our last session, in fact. Dr. Pete, could you please, please confirm what I told you last time. You know, about my…manhood? My exact words? She doesn’t believe me.”

Therapist Rule 3: Do not engage in therapeutic services outside of the office or pre-arranged setting. Dr. Pete knows this, but he’ll cave if pressed, and the beads of sweat are clearly visible on his brow. “I don’t think that’s appropriate, Don, especially in this setting.”

“I’d love to hear about that!” I exclaim. Dr. Pete shoots me a look of terror and hatred.

“Yeah Dr. Pete,” Don and Darla simultaneously confirm.

Nearly paralyzed with embarrassment and fear, Dr. Pete takes a deep breath, not unlike what one does before announcing at his first 12-step meeting that he is an alcoholic. “You made it a point to say that your penis, when ‘engorged,’ can split a woman in two, rendering her your sex slave for all time. At which point you dropped your pants to give me a ‘sneak preview’ of what your next ‘lottery winner’ will be experiencing.” Dr. Pete then hangs his head in humiliation, probably considering murder/suicide.

“That’s one fine penis you must have there, Don.” I compliment.

“You said it, Dr. Rob” says Don. “See Darla, I told you!”

“Alright alright, I believe you. Let’s leave these two to their walk in the park, it’s getting chilly.”

“Thanks Dr. Pete,” says Don “We’ll see you next week.”

Dr. Pete and I never made it to either the park or the mud wrestling match. I actually had lost track of where we were really going in the first place, with all of this newfound entertainment. I decided, however, not to take any further pleasure in Dr. Pete’s character flaws, given that he was basically about to cry his eyes out from mortification.

“If you tell anyone about this, I’ll fucking kill you,” he whimpered.

Sorry, Pete.

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26 Responses to “Dr. Pete, the Shrink with Social Phobia”

  1. Bully says:

    You are simultaenously hilarious and horrible. You should get a plastic cast of Don’s crotch and leave it glued to the top of his car.

  2. Tech Hell says:

    On one hand, I applaud you for this. It is not often that you find yourself in a situation like this with so many opportunities for fun. On the other, hand, that was just cruel. I would have done the same thing, I suppose. Keep up the good work.

  3. Wayland says:

    You and Pete must be bestfriends. If not then you’re just a bastard. A very funny bastard. You better make sure Pete knows you love him.

  4. Jake says:

    Why doesn’t Dr. Pete take the medication outside of work? It could make his life much less stressful, it sounds like. Granted, it wouldn’t help quite as much ( assuming he partakes in some vice beforehand to mellow himself out even further ), but it’d make conversations such as this less destructive to him.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Do you still see Dr. Pete?

  6. Frederick says:

    I think I’m in love.

  7. Lora/sexslavelover says:

    Can I get Don’s number?

  8. armpit sweat says:

    Anyone know how I easily could get rid of my Hyperhidrosis?

  9. Flashmob says:

    Thanks! I will recommend this to all my friends.

  10. Anonymous says:

    This post was hilarious, thank you for sharing

  11. Guy says:

    Thankfully I discovered this at Bing.

    Robert

  12. Haber says:

    This post was truly interesting , thank you for sharing

  13. Jacopa says:

    Your site is very interesting! Keep up the good work!

  14. escaperoad says:

    tell me that did not actually happen…

    either way, i laughed so hard my face hurts.

  15. Katie says:

    Haha, you’re such a good helper! Clearly Dr. Pete appreciated your social facilitation there.

  16. Dr. Pete says:

    Hate you.

  17. johnny says:

    that was so mean! is this because dr. pete’s black?

  18. Hud says:

    This post was really interesting (and painful to witness), thank you for sharing.

  19. Skillz says:

    Much appreciated , cool info and bookmarked yout blog!

  20. Ren says:

    Well now, any aspirations towards wanting to be a psychotherapist are “gone!” Thanks for the heads up!

  21. Erica says:

    Omg, this site is the best read I’ve come across in a long (underscored, bolded, italicized LONG) time! Thank!

  22. Erica says:

    uh..Thank with an s.

  23. Erica says:

    Question: Will you be coming to FB at some point? I’d love to like ya!

    @Erica: Yep…http://www.facebook.com/pages/Dr-Rob-Dobrenski/189779384390881?sk=wall

  24. Erica says:

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  26. Kenneth says:

    Everyone is afraid of something. This most fundamental, critical rule of human existence may be among the oldest reasons for the human need to socially interact. To a certain extent, it is arguable that all society is based on the foundation that we are playing off each other’s fears. However, while it is normal for everyone to have fears, not everyone has a phobia. The phobia, which is essentially an unreasonable fear that is firmly rooted in a person’s psychology, can sometimes be difficult to spot. In general, they don’t so much affect a person’s social and professional standing as other disorders might. Yet, there are some people that must deal with the prospect of having to face a phobia at work on a daily basis.^

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