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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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