Relationships after Therapy: Why They are Always Bad

Dear Dr. Rob,
I know you said that dual relationships with your shrink are inappropriate, but what about after therapy is over? I email and sometimes have lunch with my former therapist and we consider ourselves good friends at this point. Have you ever done this with any of your clients?
Sara


Dr. John says I’m a “curmudgeonly, asocial tool who no one likes,” so I have to wonder if anyone would want to have any sort of post-professional relationship with me. He’s probably just bitter that his date with Dr. Allison went poorly and he’s taking it out on me, which is really not cool, but that’s beyond the scope of this post.

Let’s look at the rule as it relates to this question.

For Psychologists in the United States, personal relationships (whether they be sexual or platonic) after professional ones are frowned upon. The reason for this and all ethical codes is client protection. There is an inherent power differential between therapist and client. You, as the client, are revealing so much about yourself yet often learn very little about the person you’re talking to. It’s a very one-sided relationship by design. The thinking is that no matter how much your erstwhile therapist discloses to you as friends, he or she will always have that knowledge, that information that you might not have shared had you two not had a therapeutic relationship.

Technically, personal relationships can develop two years following the termination of the professional work together. Where the two-year rule came from I have no idea but you can start having lunch with your former shrink in September, 2010 if you stop working with her tomorrow. The American Psychological Association (APA), however, has an interesting take on this. It views this relationship as a “guilty until proven innocent” one. In other words, if the APA were to discover Sara’s innocent tryst they would assume that she is being exploited in some way unless the therapist could essentially prove that she was not. This assumption would probably lead to a suspension or even termination of her license.

Dr. John added his own distorted twist to this former therapist turned friend role. To paraphrase:

“If Sara’s therapist is a smart one, she knows that one phone call from Sara to the licensing board leads to trouble. One missed lunch, an unreturned text message or a stolen husband by Sara’s therapist gives that chick the ammunition to turn her over to the Shrink Feds. You couldn’t pay me enough to put myself in that spot with former clients, especially if she could become a scorned woman.”

Most mental health professionals would argue that there are exceptions to the rule about post-professional relationships. Ethics don’t exist in a vacuum. For example, during my graduate training one of the students was rumored to be dating a guy who was part of a psychological experiment she was conducting. I was told he was an undergraduate who was getting extra credit for his Psychology 101 class or something. Supposedly she was measuring variables like finger tapping speed in response to various stimuli in right-handed vs. left-handed people or some other beyond boring study that you have to do to graduate. The moment he signed the form to take part in this experiment, they had a professional relationship, even though it wasn’t treatment. Word is he was there for about fifteen minutes and she found out that he could tap his index finger a few hundred times per minute. He commented on her pretty skin, she said he had nice shoes, dinner followed and, two six-packs of Corona Light later, they were in the sack. Was this guy exploited? Doubtful. If the university had found out would she have been tossed out of graduate school? Definitely.

Personally, the biggest reason I avoid post-professional relationships isn’t because I may exploit someone. It’s also not because I’m an “asocial tool” or a paranoid freak like Dr. John. In fact, there are former clients that I would love to hang out with, good people who tell me amazing stories, who live incredible lives. After our professional relationship is over they’ll ask me to go out for a drink or a cup of coffee, completely platonic, and I always say no. Why? I immediately think, what if this person ever needs to come back to treatment? The relationship is completely changed if we become friends. It won’t ever be the same. This is especially true if the therapy worked out very well and the person truly benefited. What if he or she needs me again? It’s just not right to take that option away from that person. “Once a client, always a client” says Dr. Pete, one of many personal philosophies that help to ensure a social interaction-free existence for him.

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35 Responses to “Relationships after Therapy: Why They are Always Bad”

  1. T.J. says:

    Hey Dr. Rob.
    I just wanted to note that your code of ethics and mine (Society for Professional Journalists) are not that far apart. If I have a source I use often, and we become friends, rather than an “exploitative possibility” it becomes a “conflict of interest.” Therefore, once we have a drink, go to a ballgame (I hate sports, but this is an example), etc., I’ve effectively “burned” a source in the sense that I cannot use them again. So yeah, in my world as well as yours, pursuing a relationship, platonic or otherwise, had better be the fuck worth it because then I lose another angle.
    To this day, I haven’t become good friends with a source, although I’ve had a few try to become good friends with me. It makes me feel like a dick, but that’s one of the costs of the job.
    Anyway, before I ramble more, good post Dr. Rob. Keep it up.

  2. Yasmin says:

    I think this rule generally runs true across any “helping” profession…Lawyers are not allowed to be in a sexual relationship with their client either.
    However, for us, it is quite a bit more relaxed and only applies to a new relationship begun during representation, and only to a sexual relationship (friendship is fine). So a lawyer could represent his or her partner if the personal relationship began before the professional one; and once the professional relationship is over, the lawyer and client are free to date.

  3. Rob is right, there really can’t be any leeway. Not only are proper boundaries needed in therapy, but afterwards too because all it takes is 1 phone call to really mess with someone’s career.
    As for pts that want to stay in touch, I think giving an office address for postcards/letters, but setting the boundary that you won’t write back is the safest route. It sounds tough, but I’d rather be safe than sorry.

  4. Maggy says:

    This may be your first post that I didn’t like DocRob. I think about being a teacher and how great it is to be able to be friends with my students after they graduated from my class. I don’t know if it’s the same thing or not, but it is disheartening to read this and I feel like great relationships are missed out on. Sometimes really being someone’s friend is much more valuable and helpful than being someone’s shrink. I have never had a shrink so I think this may be part of why I don’t understand the way you are thinking. Also, I was wondering if it is different between men and women shrinks. I can’t imagine women being able to completely detach themselves from their patients if they really actually enjoyed talking to them in their sessions. Men, in all honesty, seem to be able to do this a lot more easily. What is your take on that?

  5. Nicole says:

    I would be interested in your take on the psychology behind internet based communications…why does it seem like a disproportionately high number of msgboard posters have clinical depression or personality disorders? Why do people communicating (often anonymously) on the internet feel a greater and more rapid sense degree of intimacy than people communicating in person, or through another mode? Why are some people drawn to communicating via the internet (greater sense of control of the communication? making up for lack of real interpersonal relationships? greater intimacy?)

  6. Tracie says:

    Maggy, I understand the way you feel. However, a therapist is hired to perform a service, and one that requires some level of unbiased perspective. It’d be (to some small degree) like making friends with the person judging a competition in which you were competing. Sure, they can try to keep the job and the relationship separate, but frankly very few people can do this. Part of why therapy works so well for me and millions of other people is that detachment. I know my therapist isn’t saying that I made a good decision or seem to be doing well because he likes me and wants me to feel better. He’s saying it because he’s doing his job and I really am doing something right (or conversely being a big asshole, in which case it’s easier to take the criticism constructively because it’s his job).
    Having said that, Doc Rob, please tell Doc John to shove it, as there are plenty of other curmudgeonly, asocial tools who would totally appreciate your company and not his.

  7. Maris says:

    Hmmm, I think it boils down to $$. To take on Rob’s assertation: what if a client wants to/needs to come back to him? How could the client do so, if Rob and said client had already become friends??? Yes, I think that Would be difficult – perhap even Impossible. Furthermore: Big Deal. There are, literally, hundreds of thousands of shrinks out there. Of course, to find a really great fit between shrink/client – not always so easy. Plus, there are tons of really Awful shrinks who, while they may abide by every law in the book, just really suck bad. Still, every rationale given to avoiding post-shrink connections always, to me, smacks of rank disingenuousness. It’s more about shrinks avoiding getting in trouble by losing their licenses, first of all. It’s about Them and Their welfare, not the client’s wellfare, primarily, though they may be disinclined to admit this. Plus, Christ, would shrinks even Want to be friends with 99.9% of the people who come to see them? Truly friends? Um, probably not. Neediness is seldom attractive, except for those times when it’s being paid for, in 50 minute time increments.;)

  8. Colleen says:

    “For example, during my graduate training one of the students was rumored to be dating a guy who was part of a psychological experiment she was conducting. Was this guy exploited? Doubtful. If the university had found out would she have been tossed out of graduate school? Definitely.”
    Really? I work in psychology research and have had coworkers and friends participate in our study, but I’ve never formed a relationship with someone who I met because they were a participant. However if I did I don’t see how this would be an ethics issue if they were done participating in the study when the relationship began. If it affected their data or how they were treated as a subject I could see how it would be an issue, but otherwise I’m stumped. I have done the mandatory ethics training and worked on several studies now and this is news to me, so I would be interested in where this information is coming from (i.e. was it just a policy at the grad school you attended?). Thankfully I don’t like people very much and therefore haven’t made friends with any of our participants, but if I did I wouldn’t want to jeopardize my job.

  9. Tam says:

    I can’t really imagine becoming friends with my therapist. Right now our relationship is completely about me. It would be a radical change, and there is a gigantic imbalance of intimate knowledge. I don’t think it’s a good idea. I think the presence of the client-therapist relationship, even in the past, would always influence things.
    And I say this despite liking my therapist and feeling curious about his life, etc.

  10. jackmo says:

    Rob,
    what are your thoughts on dual relationships for positions such as work training?
    E.g. If you were training a group of 10 new staff about the company, systems and how to do their job. You were in a position of leadership but there is not necessarily any disclosure of personal information either way.
    I dated a girl about a month after training her and have often felt conflicted about the ethics. As a professional do I have a responsibility to say no because she may have developed feelings for me because I provided her (and others) with discipline, growth and pushed her out of her comfort zone?
    I see it in the office all the time, managers dating staff etc, is it black and white? Or different in each case depending on the circumstances?
    Cheers and keep up the domination!

  11. Kim says:

    I moved from NYC about 8 years ago and was seeing a therapist for the last 3 1/2 of those years before I moved to LA. I terminated the therapy when I left. She was fantastic – I definitely worked through a lot of issues and am a much happier an fulfilled person because of it – it wasn’t all easy, but I came out the other side in a good way. A few years ago I was reflecting on my therapy and what a difference it had made in my life and decided to write her a letter just letting her know what I was doing and that I really attributed much of my success and happiness to our work together. She wrote me back a few months later saying that she got my letter and was glad to hear I was doing well and now had a family and that it was great to hear from me. Then about a month or so later, she called me and just left a message making sure I got the letter. I was thrilled to have heard from her. I called her back and I happened to be going back to NYC the following month. I made plans to see her for a cup of coffee. We saw each other – it was really great to re-connect. She did talk a little about her personal life – not too much detail, but more than she had when we were in therapy. But, right after leaving her, I had an overwhelming sense of wanting to be back in therapy with her. I really missed it. (I did have some maternal transference going on with her that seems to have reared its head again, but maybe I’m just remembering what it was like when I was in therapy.) But another part of me really wants to be friends with her – I mean, 8 years is long enough, right? Well, we ended up emailing back and forth and then I called her about wanting to start therapy with her again – phone sessions. That was about 4 weeks ago. It’s going well, but I can’t get over this sense of still wanting to be friends. Can that ever happen? Or, did I screw up that possibility by starting therapy again? I think if circumstances had been different, we probably would have been friends.

  12. Annie says:

    Don´t you think that the there are many therapists in the NY area that your client could benefit for? If the person needs to come back, and I were that person, I would probably want a second opinion? I mean, I bet you are a good therapist, but just there are other fishes in the sea. I don’t think it will generate a huge trauma to the client if s/he needs to see someone else. I don’t know, just a thought.

  13. Rob Dobrenski says:

    @Annie, your point is valid most of the time. However, you’d be surprised at how attached people can become to their therapists. It’s sometimes a very big deal.

  14. Annie says:

    Yeah, but wouldn´t that attachment is unhealthy itself? I am somewhat attached to mine, but what if he ever got sick or moved out of the country? I need to somehow be able to move on to another one without major damage.

  15. Rob Dobrenski says:

    @Annie: Not nearly as unhealthy as hanging out with your shrink after treatment has ended.

  16. Rodgers says:

    If a person has trouble relating to others throughout their life and the therapist offers attention and care, why should we be so damn narrow and forbid a futher relationship. The Ethics code should be more lenient. besides, we violate the Ten Commandments all the time and they are etched in stone. Why not violate the Ethics code which is man-made and only pathologizes people? I left a counseling setting at my college because I fell in love with my therapist. Long story, but she played with my head! I don’t believe it was all my fault: people in authority should and MUST take responsibility for her actions. But I always get what I want and I am gonna fight until I get it across to Jessica that she is the love of my life and DAMN it if anyone gives me a problem!

  17. Miranda says:

    I am amazed at the number of people who are worried that the therapist will be ruined by a former client. Having been unlucky enough to have had a relationship with my therapist and living through the trauma it caused, this feels like victim blaming.Before this happened to me, I suppose I would have thought in a similar way and might have been envious of anyone who got to have a relationship with their therapist, but, sadly, I know from experience how toxic and deadly such relationships are.It was such a traumatic experience to go through with reporting it as well and to be retraumatised at every turn by not being believed, or by having people think it was sour grapes etc. The same treatment is given to rape victims. More sympathy is often given to the perpetrator, probably because we all have an internalised aggressor somewhere.

    Anyway, reading this is very distressing. I learned the hard way that the rules are there for a very good reason. And the client/therapist relationship is not like any other. It is the closest thing to a parent child bond that one can have and therefore the boundaries must be strictly kept in place.

  18. […] "ahead" state and her having done therapy with you doesn't go away, even after two years. Relationships after Therapy: Why They are Always Bad « Shrink Talk As much as you would like to be friends with your therapist, I would think about what your […]

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  20. Healer says:

    There are reasons for ethics. They are put in place to protect the patient as well as the practitioner. It is also to help maintain objectivity. Having said this, in professions involving people, we cannot control the emotions that each of us has towards other. This is a part of the human condition and a necessary part of trust and healing. We can, however, control whether or not we choose to act on them. Should we choose to act, know that there are not just ethical and potentially legal ramifications, there are also personal setbacks as well.
    I will not say that it is ever right or wrong to have a relationship with a practitioner/client after therapy is done. This should be the choice of the therapist and/or the client/patient.
    As a healer, should I or anyone else in such a profession choose to cross over from a professional relationship to a personal one, we have to be willing as individuals to accept this “new” trust and be willing to open up freely as our client once did to us. We have to accept our client now as a friend and integrate them into our personal life the way we choose to do our other friends.
    This might be too big of a step to take for many professionals, mainly because of the social mores in today’s society. We want to be treated with respect by our colleagues, our current friends and our family. We got into the professions we did because we wanted to help others.
    We do this sometimes without knowing the effects that our advice has on others, because like our clients, we are human and we are flawed.
    Should any of you choose to partake in any sort of relationship, be it the practitioner or the patient, please do so honestly and allow it to develop slowly like all lasting relationships do.
    To practitioners: remember thousands of years ago that a physician, therapist, etc was considered nothing more than a learned friend. This friend was often invited into someone’s home and made a part of there family. Be open and be honest. Do not let rules of today, affect the change you make in your own lives or the lives of your patients/clients.
    To clients: remember that it is the choice of your practitioner as to whether he or she would like to have an “out of office” relationship with you. If you have feelings for your practitioner, it is important to tell them. If you trust them, open up and see how they react. You might be surprised at how relieved each party is, when you are brave enough to share your feelings.
    Thank you to all who have read this post. Please continue to share your comments, thoughts and feelings.
    Take care everyone.

  21. Phin says:

    In the months and years following a long therapy, my psychiatrist and I very gradually became friends in spite of ourselves. We had too much in common not to, looking back I think it was inevitable, although I think we both did our best to maintain a certain distance for a long time. Our friendship was very discreet, mostly we met for a coffee every so often in his study or sent a note or talked on the phone occasionally. He was without a doubt a very dear father figure to me. But little by little I realized, as he slowly shared more and more of himself, that he had known as much adversity as I had, that there were amazing parallels between us, that it wasn’t just that we liked the same music, the same paintings, the same books, but that I understood this man, more fully understood him than almost anyone else in my life.

    And then I helplessly watched him slowly sink into dementia at an early age. When he knew that he could no longer practice he opened up even more to me. The more I knew him the more I cared for him.

    I chose to stand by him when he finally had to go into a nursing home. Almost all his friends, professionals in his category for the most part, couldn’t handle keeping in touch and had mostly dropped away one by one. Except for a rare visit from time to time, once he had progressed to the last stages of dementia, there was no one to watch out for him but myself. The psychiatrist (who I was never allowed to meet personally, not being “family”) and the head nurse at the nursing home crucified us as much as they dared to. I will not go into details, but I was accused of the worst possible intentions. They created a situation where we became one of the main subjects of gossip of the entire staff of the home. It did not help us that he consistently showed his love and very strong preference for me even in the very last extreme stages of the disease. It was used as proof of how unhealthy my intentions were. The nurse in charge of his dossier defended us as much as she could. A few members of the staff did let me know how wonderful they thought my commitment and how special our contact was. An old friend who knew us both very well for over 20 years also stood by me. Otherwise I was very much alone.

    After the first 18 months the head nurse even found a way to prohibit our right to have a meal together (he was the only resident in the house not to have the right to eat with a visitor). As he would accept food from me much more readily than from anyone else I found myself preparing purees and other special foods at home in order to make sure he would have something to eat every afternoon when I would go see him in the “visiting hours” allowed us. He was almost always famished, and it eventually became imperative to visit daily as much as possible (certain nurses and nurses aids encouraged me greatly in this). I have absolutely no regrets of giving him so much of my time in the last years of his life. It has however taken me a long time after his death to come to terms with the treatment we both received from others in the medical profession. I understand that we broke a tabu, I can understand their initial mistrust, but the total lack of empathy and the dismal lack of respect of certain key persons, the power trips that were played out around us at his expense from day one up until the end (and this is a long slow illness), will haunt me for a long time to come I’m afraid.

  22. evie says:

    I had a personal relationship with my counsellor and I almost didn’t survive psychologically. It was mental torture. It was the most dangerous and devastating experience I have had, even worse than the trauma that got me to counselling in the first place. There were very complicated contextual and social constraints as well, (other than the controversy of being client and therapist), between friends and family surrounding our relationship which made us have to keep the whole thing invisibly secret, and that made it even weirder. I only just survived and the worst thing is I have come out so wrecked after having completed such great work with him, and worst of all lost my counsellor. I am still very much in recovery from this experience and have no one I can talk to. I have been alone in dealing with this, and I need some help from someone who understands the extreme vulnerability of a client after finishing therapy, let alone other social factors; I need someone who understands what this experience is like as a woman, and how devastating it is.

  23. Regina says:

    Is it wrong to date you child’s ex-therapist?

  24. Cathy says:

    evie, I totally understand. I didn’t have this, but my ex-husband certainly did. I have just now (in the last week) confirmed that my ex has been having a relationship with our former therapist. I’m in the process of reporting her to several ethics committees. And, it has nothing to do with our divorce. Who would want to go to a therapist who totally disrespects the law???

  25. Cathy says:

    @Regina, YES!!! It is WRONG!!!

  26. John says:

    I was talking to a therapist, and found myself feeling deeply in love with her. I knew it was transference and I brought it up, though it felt really awkward. She just said, “OK, we don’t need to talk about it again.”
    It was pretty traumatic because we never dealt with it. I fired her after a couple of months.it was really traumatic and I’m still not over it.

    I find myself with the same feelings for my current therapist but I’m scared to bring it up in case the same thing happens.

  27. Sarah says:

    John, a good therapist would talk you trough your feelings. I encourage you to talk about it, it’s important. And if the therapist is good, you can look at your pattern of attachment, mentioning that you feel the same old feelings coming up and then figure out a (healthy) way to deal with this. Good luck!

  28. Samantha says:

    What if you developed a relationship with a former client and you weren’t in the profession anymore? I cared for a man, the same age as me. He was on my level and eventually was released back into the normal world and lived a normal life. We were close and he phoned me last year. I had left my job as a therapist and now work in a completely different career. We began dating and our time working together has been completely forgotten, we just see each other as two people who met and developed feelings, away from a work environment.

  29. Pete says:

    I understand the safety measures set up for the protection of patients and therapists alike. I’m however a little puzzled about the way psychologists DON’T address the separation issues AFTER the termination. Completing the therapy feels great! You walk out of the office for the last time and you feel accomplished like you’ve just graduated and then it hits you, you poor soul! The person you’ve spent months (years even) and grew attached to (maybe even started loving a little in a way) won’t be there for you anymore and what’s worse you are not really allowed to contact her. It amplifies the feeling of loss even more. It’s a kind of grief that is harder to recover from than grieving after someone died. At least you don’t constantly think about what will happen if you run into your dead relative again. Do therapists warn patients about what can happen after termination? If they don’t it’s just puzzling to me. Transference may occur and the only option you have is talking to another therapist. And then another one about the issues that arose with the second therapist, etc. It would be much more normal (as in “not weird”) if the patients could have the contact option open or at least feel like they can always talk to their former therapist. The restraint makes you want to break from it even more. You will always want to press the button you were no allowed to press. Seriously! Don’t mental health professionals know how the human brain works? I think it would resolve a lot of pain out there if we all just took the Victorian sticks out of our butts. I know the termination can be painful for the therapists as well. We are just human but the rules and regulations are not very human and we have to come up with better solutions. I think our grandchildren will look back at it the same way we look back at electric shock therapy and ice baths. Thank you.

  30. Angela says:

    Hi, I need some advice. I only had two sessions with my therapist. I actually was very attracted to him prior to making an appointment with him. He walked in as part of orientation. He made a little speech and I was completely taken with him. I was immediately attracted. I signed up for therapy to take advantage mainly to discuss on how to manage a coparent relationship with my son’s father and address my apprehension regarding my son’s father’s inconsistency in my son’s life. I terminated my therapy after the brief sessions because of scheduling conflicts. I’ve shared my feelings of attraction to my therapist, and he replied with respect about the ethical and legal ramifications. I respect his integrity. I did a bit of research to ensure I wasn’t having transference feelings and can honestly and truthfully answer No. I just really like him as a person. I would love to have a friendship with him and if it lead to a romantic one that would be awesome. In generally, I think this person is worth knowing and would love to have a friendship. He expressed that he would miss me as well and was disappointed but had strong integrity. I’m willing to sign something to ensure the safety of his license. Any advice?it was brief therapy, i plan to leave it a lone but it is disheartening in this situation that we can’t even be friends. I feel the two year rule in this instance is a bit black and white.

    Dr. Rob Comment: The rule needs to be black and white because there are too many people who would exploit the gray. And you may like him as a person, but such feelings are predicated on incredibly limited knowledge of who he actually is. You only know what he has shown you, and that’s his professional side.

    There are no forms to sign that can ensure safety of his license. If he breaks the rule, he will lose his ability to work. I’m sorry, but you have to try to let this go, it won’t happen unless he isn’t the man of integrity you say he is.

  31. Ebri says:

    After my divorce with nowhere to go, my therapist asked me to live with her in exchange for housework. This was while I was her client. I knew it wasn’t appropriate, but thought it was ok short term till I found an apt. Wrong. After 6 months of living there, seeing her personal problems and having “roommate issues” it went badly and did a lot of damage to me. I struggled whether to tell someone, but ultimately did not as I didn’t want to hurt her.

  32. lei says:

    If it is true love…if the therapist or client happens to be the person you have been waiting for years to meet…if he or her is the love of your life, however, we couldn’t dial the clock back and choose another way to meet from the beginning…so we would be kept apart forever by this disheartening law and live into a unfulfilled love life for the rest of your life.

  33. Veritas says:

    The laws and rules that “protect” clients from being able to form a relationship with their therapist are inherently unethical and unlawful and violate the inalienable liberty and pursuit of happiness of the sovereign citizens on which they are being imposed. No man, nor government agency, nor entity reserves the right to dictate to anyone who they can have a relationship with. It is a direct violation of a sovereign citizens liberty.

    “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. ——”

  34. Karen says:

    I think what many people forget is that all these abuses can stem from non professional manipulators. Any relationship built on trusting the wrong person will be detrimental. Is tough because without bonding the client has little reason to trust the other, even with confidentiality laws. But if too close the provider runs the risk of becoming an emotional wreck, becoming too close to thw problem ie not seeing faults in the patient from personal bias, and of course being liable or harming the patient. Also we should not forget the hazards of dating if one or both are emotionally damaged.

    The therapist system seems broken in many ways.
    I will of course use my experience as an example. 99.9% of therapist/pyswhatevers have come across as apathetic assholse where i am spending what takes me a week to make in less than an hour for shit they often literally just googled. Learned nothing new, no insights. and all of them wanted to put me on some sort of medication first. Most were willing to write me an rx before i even opened my mouth. All of which makes me feel more depressed and angry. One because i feel like even the pros cannot fix what is wrong so i am screwed and two because all that money could have gone somewhere useful.

    The only two social workers i still see are cool people and i would definitely not say no to one if she were to make a pass at me or wish to be friends. But every visit i have to remind myself they are not my friends. No matter how much i may like them they a rent-a-friends. Somewhere in my life went wrong and now i must pay someone to listen and be around me. To be reminded my real “friends” are a combination of losers. Real self esteem killer. weird thing is i have not told them anything i have not told people who were not remotely friendly with me. Plus on top of that they are mandated reporters. So the times when i really do need someone anyone to listen, my time is exhausted and they are off the clock. which again brings me back to the point ofcwhy am i paying someone who i must keep on my mask, actively remind myself during and after to not like or get used to the good feeling, and then fight the sensation that jesus, am i so desperate and lame that i havecto pay someone to pretend to giveca damn?

    Worse yet is i did not ask to see them. They were forced on me because i wanted to be tested for autism and was told i could only be a patient if i was in therapy only to learn no one there can do testing. So even though i do not get any real counseling, i can not just quit and be friends.

    Finally, yes i have had and can make “friends” so i am not desperate for them. Just takes me a very long time to trust someone and then decipher if they are good or bad for me. I do not my social radar is severely hampered. So yes the rules are there for a reason but they also cause damage. Sadly there is no easy answer. At least i do not know of one.

  35. ECp says:

    Please PLEASE protect the client. I adored my therapist of 3 years… saw him as a father figure… never dreamed of having any other kind of relationship with him for most of those 3 years. I revealed to him that I had a crush on him… I was in awe of him. He had helped me tremendously. He ended our therapy and withing a few months invited me to have coffee. I missed our therapy very much and was thrilled but nervous about meeting him out of the office. He proceeded to ask me out socially, and within a year of our therapy ending… we married. I quickly realized, a his wife, that I knew very little about this man… and I was traumatized by the loss of my therapist. I had a husband who weilded far too much power with the most benign comments. It split my mind into a horrible place of confusion. He was two people to me… the therapist I loved, who had helped me tremendously, and to whom I felt indebted; and a man who, outside of the therapy office, was nothing like I had imagined my therapist might be. I was married to a stranger… and it was terrifying. At first I thought he was intentionally “messing with my head” and trying to manipulate me by exhibiting what I considered “weird” behavior for the therapist I knew. He was just being the normal person he was outside of the therapy hour. It traumatized me, caused severe regression, outrage, despair… horrible grief over the loss of my therapist. This man would never, ever again be my therapist. There is no going back. I was betrayed in a horrible way… had no idea I was choosing to lose the therapist I loved forever. Once a husband, no longer a therapist. My ability to trust others has been permanently fractured. I’ve been in treatment centers and suffered tremendously since this happened. At age 39, my mental health regressed to a state far worse than what I’d presented with at his office 3 years earlier.
    We divorced after 2 years, and I slowly became non-functional for the first time in my life. I lost my ability to maintain employment (after having worked my entire life previously)… and struggled to find help in a community where this therapist was loved and respected.

    I am writing this at the 10-year anniversary of his suicide… as he killed himself after I sought legal advice.

    I have had experimental brain surgery, and multiple types of treatment for Major Depression, and have been deemed legally, permanently disabled.

    I beg any professional who reads this… don’t risk destroying a former patient’s life. My therapist was a good man, good therapist with some liberal views which, in the end, destroyed us both. I believe he was in love with me… I was in love with my therapist… but was shocked to discover who the man was outside of the therapy office. I never would have EVER been attracted to him, had I truly known him. My God, it was horrible. I felt I was betraying my therapist if I got angry… and didn”t want to hurt him… but I couldn’t stand the man I was living with… GUILT GUILT… I haven’t recovered, and have honestly given it 100%. I can’t trust anyone anymore. I don’t even understand all the dynamics, but I lost my ability to trust long-time friends and family and people who I’d loved and trusted prior to this ordeal.
    I cannot convey the horror of feeling myself being split in two, and fragmented by confusion.
    I had a good life… I full of hope and faith and inspiration to have my best life ever. Within 3 years after marrying this man… we’d divorced and I’d become almost non-functional… things got worse and worse… and this is why I believe he killed himself… because he destroyed me. That’s hard for me to say, because I’m responsible for my life, but this was some sort of mental rape.
    Thank you for reading.

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