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Question
Posted by: Indignant Granny | 2010/06/20

Unscrupulous therapists

Dear CS

As an ex-psychologist (happily I now spend my days looking after my grandchildren) I have followed the debates and arguments from the psychoanalytic clan/other therapists with much interest and the suggestion of further therapist improprieties are quite alarming - lordie, lordie! CS, I am afraid that I have to join you in stressing the necessity for strict boundaries in psychotherapy and as much as I felt very sorry for " D"  who clearly was very traumatised by her experience, I have to disagree with her standpoint. I find it extremely sad that she feels it necessary to defend her therapist but I think I understand why she did. She needed to believe in her transgressor''s benevolence, so she engages in dissociative manouvres in order to keep the malignant nature of the boundary violation out of her awareness. Her experience does call into question the very " art"  of psychoanalysis and the wide latitude it would seem to confer on the therapist him/herself. I don''t know the extent of the e-mails or what was intended but can only imagine that besides the obvious boundary question, there is also the question of dependence fostering, etc - what incentive would there be to get better? To put it simply the potential for exploitation is huge and the ability to play God must at times be quite intoxicating for young professionals as may have been the case here. Unfortunately what D construes as affection may in fact be nothing more than a therapist admiring his/her own reflection in the patient. D''s attempts to distinguish love from transference are flawed but not for obvious reasons. None of us can tell the difference between the love that occurs in therapy and the love that occurs outside of therapy. We are always re-creating old relationships in the present. Freud said the finding of a love object is a " re-finding."  The point here is that love occurring in the therapeutic setting begins in the context of a power differential and a fiduciary relationship where one pays another a fee for a service.

It is exploitative to take advantage of the patient''s vulnerability by expressing affections or partaking in unboundaried practises. Love is entirely irrelevant to questions of ethics. Boundary violations of ethics codes are all about the behaviour of the therapist not about the genuineness of the internal motivations. Q - if you had coffee with your therapist outside your sessions - terminate your therapy now! Those boundaries are there for a patients (and in some cases the therapists!) safety. The greatest gift that any therapist can give to his/her patient is a secure and boundaried holding environment.

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Our expert says:
Expert ImageCyberShrink

I'm not sure whether there is such a creaure as an "ex-psychologist" - rather like actors, who are never Out of Work, but describe themselves as "resting" between projects. :}
Thanks for you for your support, encouragement and wise comments - your grandshildren are truly fortunate !

I like your image of the therapist admiring his own reflection, as its so apt. I have often wondered whether the process of medical / psychological training in which the young shrinks are often trampled and given disrespect and lack of proper autonomy in the training, might make them more vulnerable to becoming intoxicatd when they encounter admiration ( deserved or undeserved, or both ) in practice.
And I agree with your view of the way someone victimized by such bounday violations may respond, both with the sort of denial you descibe, and an accompanying need to insist on seeing the heart of it as genuine afection, rejecting the idea that it was "only" exploitation or arising from psychodynamics, rather than being earned by her own worthiness.
And you are so right about the value of the gist of a safe and boundaried setting for therapy.
I'm bothered, too, when we're told that the therapist had this or that need or problem in their own life - that to be worked on between them and THEIR therapist - otherwise you have a shrink charging you for sessions in which he primarily works on HIS problems, which is surely cheating financially and psychodynamically !
I hope we will continue to hear more of your most excellent wisdom on this forum, ig !

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2
Our users say:
Posted by: anon | 2010/06/21

So according to below : -

The point here is that love occurring in the therapeutic setting begins in the context of a power differential and a fiduciary relationship where one pays another a fee for a service.

Am i correct in making the jump to assume this is in fact a form of prostitution?

Reply to anon
Posted by: cybershrink | 2010/06/21

I'm not sure whether there is such a creaure as an "ex-psychologist" - rather like actors, who are never Out of Work, but describe themselves as "resting" between projects. :}
Thanks for you for your support, encouragement and wise comments - your grandshildren are truly fortunate !

I like your image of the therapist admiring his own reflection, as its so apt. I have often wondered whether the process of medical / psychological training in which the young shrinks are often trampled and given disrespect and lack of proper autonomy in the training, might make them more vulnerable to becoming intoxicatd when they encounter admiration ( deserved or undeserved, or both ) in practice.
And I agree with your view of the way someone victimized by such bounday violations may respond, both with the sort of denial you descibe, and an accompanying need to insist on seeing the heart of it as genuine afection, rejecting the idea that it was "only" exploitation or arising from psychodynamics, rather than being earned by her own worthiness.
And you are so right about the value of the gist of a safe and boundaried setting for therapy.
I'm bothered, too, when we're told that the therapist had this or that need or problem in their own life - that to be worked on between them and THEIR therapist - otherwise you have a shrink charging you for sessions in which he primarily works on HIS problems, which is surely cheating financially and psychodynamically !
I hope we will continue to hear more of your most excellent wisdom on this forum, ig !

Reply to cybershrink

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