Quack

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Dear Dr. Darcy:

I’m just wondering if my therapist is just being nice or does he have feelings for me. Some examples are:

I said all men want is sex and he said not me I have too much respect for you and I said yeah and plus you're married so that wouldn’t be right and he said people do things that aren’t right all the time that’s not my main reason my main reason is respect for you. He always texts me back and answers all my questions even if they are not therapy related and it may not be right away but he always writes back even if its 9 at night. He said I was cute and that he was sorry if it was wrong of him to say but he couldn’t help it. He asked me what places I went to and said not that he was going to show up there but he was just curious and I text him by accident I meant to text someone else and I said sorry I can’t come over tonight and he said "That’s ok it probably wouldn’t be a good idea anyway " and I thought I was moving once and I told him I couldn’t continue with therapy and he said why are you moving and said this is killing me are you at least going to come and say bye to me before you leave and I tried to end it another time I texted him and said that I was feeling better and felt like I didn’t need therapy anymore and he said it was fine to take a break but we needed to talk about it in person..So I don’t know maybe it’s just me over thinking it and he’s just being nice what do you think.

ANSWER

What a colossal mess. Before I lodge into this, let me underscore that you, the patient, are not responsible for this mess. You have, however, absolutely contributed to it and you can help end it if you’re willing to hear what I have to say.

Even allowing for the possibility that you’re taking your therapist’s comments out of context, the way he’s behaving is deeply unethical and injurious to your wellbeing. As the shrink, he should see (as clearly as I do) the extent to which you are pushing boundaries and testing him to see if he is indeed different from other men. It’s normal for you to wonder whether he’s able to keep you safe, and so you are unconsciously doing things (like accidentally texting him, asking him questions unrelated to therapy and texting him or calling him after hours), giving him opportunity after opportunity to set a boundary, which would ultimately make you feel safe. Instead, this quack plays into your very normal boundary-pushing and he inappropriately responds as though you are not a patient, but a woman who he could potentially date. He’s disgusting and he should be reported to the ethics board of whichever state he’s practicing.

Now for your part: I’ve alerted you to the fact that you’re pushing boundaries. Now you need to stop. Communicate with him only during office hours. If you truly want to end therapy, it’s appropriate to terminate with him. Termination is typically a series of sessions (2-4) during which you review what you’ve accomplished in therapy and make a plan for continuing your progress, and say goodbye to your therapist. If you were a friend of mine, I’d encourage you to terminate because I think this relationship is already contaminated and I don’t trust your quack of a shrink to be appropriate. Email me if you’d like names of other therapists in your area.

Writer’s Stats: Female, Homosexual.