5 thoughts on ““What Happened To My Therapist?” 8 Things To Consider

  • March 29, 2017 at 5:03 pm

    Given the fact that patients in any kind of mental health care are potentially very vulnerable, I wish there was some kind of ethical rule that when a professional needs to disappeared without warning, their patients would be entitled to a brief statement about what’s going on. It’s a very disturbing event in a person’s life.

    I mean at least a statement along the lines of “they retired”, “they left the profession” or something. Not detailed enough to be fodder for stalkers, but not meaninglessly vague, either.

    Also, if they were kicked out for mistreatment of patients or irresponsibly distributing drugs, I wish ex-patients had the right to know that they were under the care of someone who might not have been safe and whose treatment might have harmed them.

    I’ve never had this happen with a therapist, but I had a psychiatrist for medication management who vanished. It was weird, because he always talked about how into his job he was and acted like he was really putting down roots in this city.

    I got the feeling that he’d done something wrong or had been accused, given the generally creepy tone of how his former colleagues (who all refused to take me) talked about the issue.

    However, this guy was always good to me as far as I know, and I kind of wish I was still seeing him. They sent me to this clinic on the other side of town that was taking his old patients. It was and still is pretty bad, but it’s quite difficult to find a new psychiatrist without a wait of up to a year.

    I see a therapist who is excellent, but every psychiatrist she vouches for is retired or scheduled for years in advance.

    The mental health field should not impose Kafkaesque situations on the people who depend on it.

    • March 31, 2017 at 3:54 pm

      Hi Ed,
      Good points. I agree. I think therapists should have a degree of privacy because they are humans like the rest of society and deserves privacy. But a therapist, ethically, should inform his or her clients about their whereabouts (if they can, as in some agencies contacting clients after a therapist leaves can create legal challenges for the therapist). Our ethics code, the code that mental health professionals abide by to ensure they are treating clients fairly, stresses the importance of transferring clients, informing them of their absence ahead of time, and ensuring the client will be well taken care of after the therapist leaves. Sadly, some agencies are so focused on the “business model” of things that they may neglect the ethics code of the therapist’s position.
      Take care

  • March 30, 2017 at 2:09 am

    Great topic, Tamara. I kind of feel like I could write a book on this one but no worries, I’ll try to contain myself lol!
    I’ve had strong abandonment issues for as long as I can remember. I don’t particularly feel it is due to a personality disorder but rather, due to things in my early childhood that would cause fear and insecurity in most anyone.
    With that in mind –years of having to bury my feelings or suffer the consequences, not having any family validation of feelings etc., it makes at least some sense to me why I’d come to very much appreciate and value and yes, even need and depend on the therapeutic process and the therapist herself.
    I’ve had several therapists during rough times in my life dealing with abuse issues, p.t.s.d., major depression and anxiety as well as during a years long court case against my abuser. I’ve had two very different and difficult experiences with the end of therapy relationships.
    One therapist was the first one I’d ever had. I was young and had no idea what to expect. It was very helpful for awhile. A few years in, she began acting strangely on occasion. I went from being treated special, taken out for birthday celebrations, meeting a few of her family members to feeling abandoned and bewildered when she’d “forget” we had a session scheduled and not show up or double book. Suddenly in a half hour session she quit. Told me I’d “gone as far as I can take you. I’ll give you a referral if you want.” I declined and walked out. She didn’t hug me goodbye that day and seemed to forget telling me the previous week that I was not well and in her opinion was “one sick little girl right now due to the depression.” She’d never spoken to me like that before! I think I was in shock walking home that day and remember having vague impulses to walk in front of a truck or jump off the bridge on my way home. I thought I must be pretty horrible if my therapist doesn’t care but I truly couldn’t think of anything I’d done wrong. I never was able to get closure.
    My other therapy ending was very difficult even though she had to leave due to a move out of state and even though she gave me and all of her client’s a two month notice, helped with processing my sadness at losing her and offered referrals. This one was hard solely because we’d developed a good therapeutic relationship, it was a great “fit”, she cared–AND kept healthy boundaries yet was flexible when needed. Saying goodbye to her was, as she put it, “a chance for a good goodbye” but I still grieved for a while.
    Sorry for being so lengthy. I DO feel that if a therapist can offer some “warning” and an opportunity for working through at least some of those feelings that get stirred up, offer closure etc, they should!

    • March 31, 2017 at 3:39 pm

      Hi Lori,
      You are right, transitioning between therapists or losing a therapist is really difficult. How do I know that? Because I’ve done it multiple times throughout my career development (especially when first starting out in my career) and because I have seen other therapist’s clients experience it. What we sometimes fail to recognize about therapy is that it is not just an “appointment” between a healthcare provider, insurance company, or client. But rather, it is a relationship with emotional and psychological bonds. When that bond is broken, it can take years for a client to recover. Sometimes that client will search for their old therapist online or in their local area to see if they can find the therapist again.
      When we, mental health professionals, are working with clients (as you stated) with abandonment issues, abuse, PTSD, or other severe challenges, leaving them can lead to a downward spiral for the client. It’s something I try so very hard to avoid when I have to leave or transition.

      Lastly, it is really bad when a therapist makes a client feel they need to kill themselves or harm themselves in some fashion. There are times, however, when a client may misinterpret a therapist’s true intent. But there are also some therapists who could use training in how to be therapeutic.
      Take care

  • March 20, 2018 at 1:06 pm

    My therapist disappeared last week. All I know is that he no longer works there. I showed up to an appointment and the receptionist informed me. I was shocked, saddened, my heart began to feel heavy. It still feels heavy. It has left me feeling so insignificant that I can be forgotten without a word.


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