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Therapist Was Fired

Question:

How do I deal with my therapist suddenly losing his job because of the economy? It’s not his fault he was suddenly let go. I have major abandonment issues and it’s been very hard for me to lose him. I know there are other therapists out there, but, how do I get attached to one knowing he or she could suddenly be fired as well? I miss my therapist and it’s been very hard for me not to have his support. With the economy the way it is I started wondering if there are others out there who have had to deal with this same issue. How do you trust someone again when this happens? I know it wasn’t his choice so I don’t really have an issue with him, I blame his workplace, yet I still miss him so much and am having a very hard time with it all.

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

You are asking a very important question about psychotherapy and the issue of abandonment and loss. There is no easy answer to your question except to point out some important concepts you need to consider.

1. Inevitably, we are going to experience loss during our lives. People change plans and move away, marriages sometimes end in divorce, children grow up and leave and people die due accidents, disease, old age or any number of other causes.

2. When seeing a therapist who is working for a clinic that is either in or outside of a hospital, there is always a good chance he or she will leave. Therapists who work in these employed settings are often looking for a better salary, improved working conditions or a promotion elsewhere. Sometimes they may leave the field of psychotherapy.

3. It is always possible to see a psychotherapist who is in private practice. Very often therapist fees are higher in a private practice setting than in a clinic setting. Your health insurance coverage might reduce the amount of the cost if the therapist is part of your network or if you insurance accepts therapists who are out of network.

4. Even within the context of private practice, things can and do happen to interrupt the flow of treatment. I have known people who have suffered the unexpected and shocking death of their therapist. In addition, even in private practice, a therapist might move to another part of the country or retire from practice. Sometimes, a therapist might to leave the practice for the same reason as your therapist being “fired,” and that it is that they cannot make financial ends meet.

So, what does this mean for you and other patients? It means that the loss of a therapist must be dealt with in the same way that the death of a loved one is dealth with. It is important to grieve the loss of this important person in your life.

In terms of grieving under your circumstances, it is important to move on to another therapist who can and should help you with the grieving process. In my opinion, it is a good idea, if possible, to find a psychologist, licensed clinical social worker who is in private practice because that does reduce the chances of an interruption of service except for vacations.

At the very same time, there are many clients or patients who take comfort in remaining with the clinic where they have seen other therapists in the past. The reason is the simple fact that it is quite normal to form an attachment to a clinic as well as to a therapist. In that way, even when a therapist leaves the attacment to the  clinic remains.

These are decisions for you to make and they are a matter of personal choice, ie: stay with the clinic and move on to the next therapist or find someone in private practice.

The main and central point is for you to grieve the loss of your therapist and, as part of the grieving process, allow yourself to have your anger. You have every right to feel sad and angry as well.

Best of Luck

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Comments
  • Anonymous-1

    I suppose my situation is slightly different, but related. Due to changes in my insurance coverage I was forced to leave the therapist I was seeing. I was and am very attatched to my therapist. I miss him so much. When I get really upset it helps to write down the things that I want to tell him. Then I try to think of what he would say in response to some of them. I know that in some ways by remembering the advice that he gave me I still have him with me. I know that he cared and wanted to see me succeed. Continueing my journey towards recovery and seeing someone new despite my fears is one way that I have of honoring my meomory of the relationship I had with him and the gratitude that I feel for how much he has helped me.

  • Anonymous-2

    I expected a little more constructive advice from this article. Instead it seems to be loaded with excuses relationships end and people move on?

    A smart patient therapist dyad would go over in the beginnig such dire topics as what to expect from therapy, what brought the therapist to that particular setting, how long she/he has been in practice, what specialties they provide, and yes, of course, when does the therapist foresee moving on to another location.

    A fired therapist on the other hand, suggests that the company is greedy and indifferent to the needs of its care providers In particular, my therapist was fired because he didn't meet an expected monthly quota set forth by the Department of Mental Health. When I enquired about his departure, the receptionist stated that there turn-over rate is high...as if I should just "get over" my loss!

    Should I just get over it? Are people replaceable objects? I thin greiving the loss of my therapist is an understatement it is down-right unjust!

    If mental health treatment has come to quantity over quality then a bigger pathology is in the picture. Very recently I saw a news show that suggested that in the very near future psychotherapy would become obsolete due to lack of state funding the new "therapy" is thought to consist of a 15 min. session of psychiatry, a toss of perscription pills, minus what this society in general needs: human connection.

    People have forgotten how to communicate with one another! Consider a therapist's lack of consistency (for what ever reason) as just one more piece of evidence.

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