By David Joel Miller.
What should you do – What should the therapist do?
Counseling or therapy is a very special relationship. It is also very confidential. One problem is what happens if you see your therapist out in public.
Mostly what happens is up to you.
Professionals are trained to avoid saying anything or doing anything that would identify you as a client in treatment. What if we see you and you are with your wife or girlfriend? Do you want them to know you are or have been in therapy?
What if you are at work and we come into that workplace? Do you want your boss or coworkers to know you are in therapy?
Since we can’t be sure, the customary practice is to say or do nothing, just walk right on by. The professional should not do anything to identify you as a client.
You, on the other hand, are under no such obligation. If you chose to say hi then we can respond and say hi back. If you chose to introduce us it is up to you to decide how to identify us.
While we can talk with you if you initiate the conversation what we do not want to do is start another dual relationship with you.
We can shop in a store where you work; to avoid your workplace would penalize you for being our client. We do not want to ask for special discounts or deals you can’t or wouldn’t make to other customers, which would confuse the relationships and run the risk of interfering with the primary relationship, the one between therapist and client.
So if you see your therapist out in public and they do not say hi do not take this as they do not like you or they are rude. Believe that they are pretending to not know you in order to protect your confidentiality.
Thanks to the reader who asked that question.
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For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse and Co-occurring disorders see the about the author page. For information about my other writing work beyond this blog check out my Google+ page or the Facebook author’s page, up under David Joel Miller. Posts to the “books, trainings, and classes” category will tell you about those activities. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books
- Why love and counseling don’t mix – ethical Loophole 4 (counselorssoapbox.com)
- 4 Reasons counselors don’t say they like you (counselorssoapbox.com)
- What if your Therapist loses their cool? (counselorssoapbox.com)
- How do you fire a psychologist or counselor? (counselorssoapbox.com)