Relationship with therapist after therapy

'Til Death Do Us Part: Does a Client Ever Stop Being a Client? -

relationship with therapist after therapy

I also know there are "rules" about relationships after therapy ends. The guidelines on friendship can vary from therapist to therapist and the. I was your therapist and because of that, I can't have a social relationship with you Any possible relationship—six months or six years after therapy is over—is . 5) The impact of the post-therapy relationship on the former client Leni: “So, I had initiated the termination in February after we had the.

Dual relationships are discouraged by most professional organizations. However, not all experts in the field believe that all dual relationships are necessarily harmful.

Friendship with therapist after therapy ends | The PsychCafe

It would depend on the context. However, when a therapist and long past patient enter into a relationship separate from the therapeutic one, is that actually a dual relationship? Would it be more accurate to call it a sequential or serial relationship? Is there a difference?

If one believes that our patients grow mature and sometimes surpass us in knowledge, wisdom, and power, then it is a significant difference. Of course, of all the dual or sequential relationships that are potentially possible with patients and former patients, when the issue of sex comes up, most all therapists of all disciplines react forcefully.

Having sex with a current patient or even a recently discharged patient is not only unethical—it is illegal. It is truly a betrayal of the trust the patient places in us. However, over time as in yearscan that change in some very special circumstances to allow exceptions to the rule? If a therapist and former patient meet some 10 or 15 years after the last therapeutic session and develop a personal relationship, get married, and have children, can we say that an ethical violation or a crime has been committed?

Washington State is one exception. However, assuming the former client does not file any complaint, how enforceable would such laws be? For example, what if the former therapist and patient got married, were in a committed relationship, and had children?

Would or should an ethics committee have the authority to interfere with a marriage or union among consenting adults? What about our belief in the right to free association? What is the rationale for the prohibition against sex with patients? Many believe it is the power differential. Behnke points out that many relationships have significant power differentials, including partnerships and marriages, and that we often do in fact put our own interests above those of clients when we charge fees, for example.

So, neither a power differential nor putting our own needs first is in and of itself unethical. Rather, Behnke says, it is because we have a fiduciary relationship that is compromised and creates additional risks that are not a necessary part of the therapeutic relationship, making psychotherapy impossible.

But fiduciary relationships are not static and change with time and circumstances. Some would argue it is based on psychodynamic theory, and perhaps those who practice psychoanalytically have a higher standard.

Appropriateness of becoming friends with your therapist (after therapy) | Ask MetaFilter

But interestingly, there is nothing in psychodynamic theory or psychoanalysis that would state such. This would include taking patients on vacation and conducting analysis in hotel room beds. We tend to forget that that was a different time with different standards. Therefore, perhaps, our reactions could possibly be a way of denying and reacting against the behaviors of a previous era we find frankly embarrassing and indefensible. Another possibility is that, whereas all of us require structure of some kind, some of us need more structure and clear inflexible rules more than others.

Some fear that if they bend the rules just a little, they may go down a slippery slope and cross all reasonable bounds.

'Til Death Do Us Part: Does a Client Ever Stop Being a Client?

To therapists who believe they are just one rigid rule away from harming their patients, I say maintain all the rules you need. However, not everyone requires such inflexibility. Attempting to impose such rigidity on everyone is not good practice. It is not good for our clients or the field. If we hold that belief to be literally true, then it would not apply only to sex.

We are responsible to protect our clients from harm to self and others. The thing to keep in mind is that, up to this point, it's been an imbalanced relationship.

relationship with therapist after therapy

You share more than they share back. It can be friendly, but it's not a friendship. So I'm afraid you'll have to just wish her well on your way out the door. If you see her on the street, it's fine to say hi, but you're not going to hang out.

relationship with therapist after therapy

Generally, your therapist still consider themselves your therapist even after therapy is over, because there's always the possibility you might want to restart therapy. If you and she became friends, in most situations she wouldn't be available to you at any time in the future as a therapist.

So that's one thing she will likely be keeping in mind and that you should probably keep in mind. Good therapists are hard to find. I wouldn't rule one out lightly. The other thing to keep in mind is that therapy is an inherently unbalanced relationship; it's not the equal exchange of a good friendship but should be entirely focused on you.

relationship with therapist after therapy

Therapists usually have a fair amount of training in "self-disclosure" what we tell clients about ourselves to make sure that it's helpful and doesn't shift focus away from the client's issues. This is not and should not be the case in a friendship. So it's probably a larger shift in the relationship to become friends than it might seem to the client. Through various circumstances, I've ended up in a social network that includes a client I had seen two years previous to the social connection.

I saw him professionally for only a few months, at this point it was five years ago, and I still feel very "therapist-brained" with him in social settings, because I really want to make sure that he's comfortable with my presence.

None of which means it's impossible to become friends with your former therapist, but it's tricky. Some therapists just try to have a blanket policy that it's not going to happen, others might be more flexible. All that said, I love getting occasional updates from former clients about how they're doing.

As a client, too, I've emailed my own past therapists with referral questions and all of them have asked very sincere and enthusiastic, "How are you doing???

So that would be a middle ground. People do come out of retirement, though, too, so she may still want to keep that professional boundary.