I just read a post from a blogger who describes how her therapist suddenly terminated her without warning. She writes,
I spend pockets of time here and there throughout the days just wracking my brain trying to figure out what went so wrong. I replay our conversations in my head and try to decipher what this meant or why she said that. I try to figure out what the fuck I did wrong.
It’s devastating and crazymaking. Unfortunately, being suddenly rejected by a mental health professional seems to be pretty common. People who have never been in therapy sometimes have trouble understanding how devastating this can be. We become extremely attached to our therapists through a process known as transference, especially when the therapy is of the psychodynamic type (as opposed to behavioral/cognitive methods like CBT). The therapist acts as a surrogate parent and for a therapist to terminate a patient without warning is akin to a parent rejecting their child. It’s extremely traumatic and the victim often develops PTSD from the rejection, especially if they already have attachment or trauma-related issues due to rejection or neglect by caregivers when they were children. The problem is that many people with mental disorders themselves become therapists, often to work out their own emotional issues by proxy. They may not be aware they are doing this, but it happens all the time. That’s why therapists are encouraged and even required to be in therapy themselves, in order to address any counter-transference issues that may come up with their patients.
If my therapist ever rejected me like that…ugh, I don’t even want to think about that. I think I would just want to crawl into a hole somewhere and die. I know he would never suddenly terminate me without good reason and without explaining why, but because I worry about everything, sometimes I worry about that too.
I’ll give you an example of how ridiculous this worry gets. In my last session, toward the end, I asked my therapist if he had any children. I don’t think I had any reason to ask other than simple curiosity. But after I asked I felt liked I’d somehow overstepped his boundaries (he did answer me). I don’t even know why, really. He asked me what made me ask him that. Maybe he thinks this is significant. I imagined I saw an angry or concerned look on his face after I asked. But I always imagine negative looks on people’s faces even when their expression is actually neutral. I feel like I should apologize. I don’t even know if he was upset by my question but I still feel like it might have been a boundary invasion. I know he wouldn’t terminate me for this, but I still worry that he might like me less because I *might* have invaded his boundaries.
It’s so dumb that sometimes I feel like I have to be perfect even for my therapist.
50 Warning Signs of Questionable Therapy (red flags you should know about):
There are over 700 comments under the above post. I was shocked at some of the stories I read about horrible therapists who make their clients even worse.
Infatuation and Transference: Please be aware that I wrote this post over a year ago and my views about transference, which were mostly negative at that time, have changed.