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Protectionist Therapist

Question:

My therapist has told me that it is o.k. to go on the internet and read about incest issues. I also am on several support email lists. But, he told me it is not o.k. to discuss my therapy on the internet. He told me if I did that, he would terminate me. No one knows who you are. I even use an alias address. No names are mentioned. I just wondered what you thought about this. He did say they might criticize him or tell me he was using me, etc. I find these groups a support system since you cannot talk to your therapist every day. Do you have any comments about this. Thank you. Please, this needs to be confidential.

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  • Dr. Dombeck responds to questions about psychotherapy and mental health problems, from the perspective of his training in clinical psychology.
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Answer:

If you are a therapist and a potential client comes to you and tells you that he/she is currently in therapy with another therapist but now wants to come to see you the right thing for you to do is for you to tell the potential client to go back to their present therapist and to decline the work. This is to help the client to stay focused in his/her present therapy situation. My best guess is that your therapist is concerned about the latter situation – that you will use your extra-therapy contacts to undermine your present therapy situation. That very well might happen – I’d take the possibility seriously and ask yourself whether this is what you are trying (unconsciously?) to do. On the other hand – it is common and good practice for a client to be in multiple therapy situations at the same time provided that they offer different interaction types – for instance – individual therapy with one therapist and group therapy with another. In this sort of situation it is best if the two therapists can collaborate and speak with each other (they can only do this if you provide each with a written release of information). In your case – there is no other therapist so this is a moot point. My suggestion is for you to discuss the issue further with your therapist so as to learn what he is concerned about – his reputation or your well being. You need to walk the line between respecting his knowledge base (after all -you consulted him because you understand that he can help you with things that you can’t solve easily on your own) and standing up for your rights as the consumer of the therapy service. You have to figure out if you are trying to sabotage your therapy or if you are standing up for yourself assertively. You have to figure out if he is concerned more for your well being or for his. I can’t make the call for you but I can say that you are asking the right questions.

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