Posted by: a friend | 2012-02-13

Question re friend''s therapy

A personal question: Would you as a therapist put enlarged photos of your wife and child up on your office wall? Especially if some of your patients have strong transference issues and some border on being obsessed with them representing the perfect family? I know of one patient that is obsessive about her therapist''s private life and he therefore decided to not show any photo of his newborn child as he did not want her overstepping boundaries. However, after all this time (1yr) he decides to put up these photos. The patient who was not allowed to see any photos was crushed and humiliated and not sure what to think and has told me she is going to quit therapy. I think the therapist has a right to do whatever he wants but my friend thinks he did this just to hurt her feelings as he is well aware of her insecurities. She feels betrayed and says she has lost her trust in him as he obviously did not take anything she said serious. This person is close to me and I want to be there for her but don''t know what to say. She feels rejected and not good enough because she was never allowed to see any photos and one day when she walked into his office and the larger than life photos were staring at her. She''s been in therapy for a couple of years and I know that he told her he was going to try a different approach - Schema therapy. Could the photo thing be part of this therapy? Just curious on your take on this. She is such a lovely person and it saddens me to see her want to quit over something so trivial but obviously means a lot to her. Wouldn''t her therapist be aware of her possible reaction? Should I encourage her to leave?

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Our expert says:
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Personally, no I wouldn't. Therapist or not, I wonder what people who insist on putting up such obvious pictures of their family in their business office, are actually trying to say. Is i "Hey, look ! I'm a regular guy, and I even hav a wife and kids " ? Anyhow, I am concerned that there seem to be too many people in SA offering Psychotherapy who seem to have been VERY inadequatley trained, and seem irresponsibly unaware of issues like transference or how to deal with it. It is HI|GHLY unprofessional for any therapist to be showing photos of his newborn child to ANY patient -- that's naive showing-off and not at all therapeutic or responsible. And how would one patient know whether he'd shown private pictures to another patient ? Do they routinely gossip about the content of their sessions ?
I dont see how indulgently displaing private pictures of the terapist's private like is an acceptable or proper part of ANY form of therapy. Scheme therapy is one many many systems invented and marketed by individuals, making large claims, buit lacking in proper quality research provin effectiveness.
Personallt, too ( and this makes me unpopular with psychoanalysts ) I am sceptical about any treatment that lasts for years without significant progress, especially when it uses unproven methods and untested claims. That's a pension scheme for the therapist, not a genuine treatment

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