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My therapist betrayed me. This is how.

Discussion in 'General Support and Advice' started by Kevin k, Mar 12, 2019.

  1. Kevin k

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    Let me tell yall' a story. I realized I haven't told this one here yet. Well, sit down and get comfy, this is a long one. So, starting from the top, I first met my therapist when I was 12, bc I was having problems in school with friends and such, not lgbt related yet. She seemed nice, I got to know her, she helped me vent and stuff, and by 14, I actually looked forward to appointments with her. After contemplating about it for a very long time, I made the decision to tell her I had feelings for a man. Bad choice. She seemed to understand, so I went further on, telling her about the guy I met, and how we like eachother and all that, and I even showed her a few pictures of us. I asked her if she could do some thinking on if I should officially call him my boyfriend, which included having sex. She said she would think about it and do 'research' whatever that meant. After each session of therapy, my mom goes in after I come out and talks to the Dr about the session. I had asked her not to mention my boyfriend to my mother, assuming that's how dr patient privilege works. All of the sudden, my mom was silent all the way home, and when she was collecting my laundry in my room, she shut the door and looked at me. She looked right in my eyes and said, "do you think you are gay?" I was trapped. I didn't know what to say, so since I still got aroused when I thought of women, I said, "I think I like both..... so.. yes?" She forced me to come out, I had no choice. Next therapy session I asked dr. S if she had ratted on me, and she said mom has the right to know. It was here I declared that I will hate her forever, and I never wanted to see her again. I never went back to therapy. 2 months ago, in present time, my father, who lives up north, so I never see him, told me Julia lost her job. He said she contacted him and told him to "tell Kevin I'm sorry". I don't want your apology, I wanted your word. During that last therapy session she also mentioned how my boyfriend would leave me after he got me to have sex with him, and break my heart. well, you see how that turned out, me and my boyfriend will have been together 2 years now this easter. I told my father to tell her she was wrong about everything and to go to hell. Did I go to far? Was she somehow justified? Anyone please give your thoughts. Thanks for reading if you got this far.
     
  2. quebec

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    Kevin.....I'm so sorry that this happened to you. Your problem is that I don't think rules about keeping what is said in a session private applies in most cases to minors. Nonetheless, she should have at least waited to tell your mother after you and she had talked more. That would have allowed her to explain that sometimes a parent does need to be told what a minor has said. (Suicide concerns, etc.) It would have also let you have a chance to tell your mother yourself in a way that was more comfortable for you. Just telling your mother immediately while letting you think your session with her would be held in confidence was not just wrong, but could have easily gotten her in trouble with the state agency that granted her a license. That kind of conduct on her part could have been part of the reason that she lost her job. She clearly understands that what she did was wrong. I don't blame you for feeling the way you do. Try to remember, however, that letting your anger simmer can cause you even more problems. Don't let the wrong she did to you continue to cause you pain. She absolutely wronged you and it seems that she has paid at least something for her conduct. Do your best to forget her...she's not worth causing you any more pain.
    .....David :gay_pride_flag:
     
  3. Destin

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    That was totally and utterly wrong of her to do in every way. She's got to be the worst therapist alive to so blatantly break her client's trust like that. Telling you he would leave you is also pretty unbelievably bad for a therapist.

    Unfortunately...it's not illegal since you were a minor though, according to the APA section on confidentiality for minors https://www.apa.org/helpcenter/confidentiality
     
    #3 Destin, Mar 12, 2019
    Last edited: Mar 12, 2019
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  4. Dionysios

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    I agree that your therapist's conduct was not very professional of her nor fair to you. Yet she lost her job, which also damaged her reputation, so she did pay a heavy price for her actions. My young friend, there is nothing to be gained by holding on to anger over this sad and painful matter. Let it go and forgive her. The woman deserves your pity not malice. She was not much of a seer with her predictions for happily you still have your boyfriend of two years. You have love in your life. That's so wonderful! Why dampen it by keeping a festering grudge like this? It will only bring more grief into your life, not to hers. It's like keeping an open container of spoiled milk on the kitchen counter. The stench gets worse but complaining about it does not cleanse the air. You have to pour it down the sink and get rid of it.

    I really hope that you can move on to a better place. The past cannot be undone, but the future has endless possibilities. Please don't waste your time churning over past wrongs, but focus on ways to maintain happiness in the days and years ahead. *smile*
     
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  5. johndeere3020

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    Yep, it would piss me off, that's something very personal and she should have left you to tell on your own time. You gotta let it go. It will do ya no good to dwell on it.
     
    #5 johndeere3020, Mar 12, 2019
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  6. Chip

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    This is totally not true. This therapist has behaved unethically, in violation of the ethical standards she was bound to when she got her license. This is an extremely egregious violation, and the therapist should absolutely be reported to her licensing board. Depending on what her credential is (psychologist, LPCC, MFT, MSW, etc) will depend on which licensing board she should be reported to. I would very strongly advise you to file a formal complaint with the licensing board. Losing her job is not adequate; if she did this once, she will do it again.

    First, the therapist is ethically obligated to discuss with the client (minor or adult) what the terms and limits of confidentiality are. This should be disclosed both in writing and in conversation in the first session. In general, the rules for therapy are that, unless there is specific discussion and agreement with the client in advance, a therapist cannot disclose anything about the session or what the client has shared with any other person. In addition to being a violation of ethical standards, this is likely also a HIPAA (health records privacy act) violation; the fines for intentional HIPAA violations (which this absolutely is) are often in the tens of thousands of dollars. If it were me, I would also consider filing a formal complaint with the state and federal agencies that enforce HIPAA.

    The only exceptions to this are
    -- The client discloses intent to harm self or others and the threat, after evaluation by the therapist is deemed credible and that the client is likely to act.

    -- There is a subpoena by a court of law for the therapist's records.

    -- There is a written agreement with the therapist and the parent for the therapist to disclose private information to the parent. If this is in place, then the minor child client must be informed in advance, with absolute clarity what information the therapist has agreed to disclose to the parent.

    There was significant psychological harm from her careless and incompetent act, and for some children, it could have been even worse (consider a parent who whisks their kid away to an offshore "straight camp", or one who throws their kid out.) The psychological toll on you could potentially have put you at risk of self-harm, drug use, or other numbing behavior.

    I cannot adequately state how egregious this therapist's actions were. Not only the inappropriate disclosure, but the judgmental viewpoint she presented about your boyfriend.

    This woman should not be a therapist. She needs to be brought up before the licensing board before she harms someone else. Especially since she lost her job, that's likely an indication that she did something else inappropriate, but many employers don't make formal reports to the licensing boards. Thus it is very important for the clients who have been wronged to come forward so that these sorts of abuses can be stopped. It puts a huge black eye on the profession as a whole when things like this happen.

    I don't often write things this strongly about people in the profession, especially since there are often gray areas and judgment calls. There is no such gray area or judgment call in this case; it was 100% wrong, and she really should be appropriately sanctioned by the medical board (and perhaps HIPAA). Taking this sort of action ensures she won't harm anyone else, and sends a powerful message to other therapists who consider this sort of outrage that they cannot do this sort of thing.

    I am so incredibly sorry that this happened to you. I hope that you are some day able to trust another therapist, but I can understand you may be reluctant to do so after this experience.
     
    #6 Chip, Mar 13, 2019
    Last edited: Mar 13, 2019
  7. Chip

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    No. She does not deserve pity or malice. She needs to be held accountable for her unprofessional behavior.

    Because the psychological harm to Kevin was severe. The damage to his relationship with his mother, and even his current situation where she is judgmental are a direct result of this incompetent therapist's gross malpractice and malfeasance.

    This isn't something you just go "Oh well, nevermind, I can let it go."
     
  8. dano218

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    I totally agree with that Chip had said. I never heard of confidentially not applying to minors. I will say in a different scenario a child could be kicked out or worse due to their parents finding out. It is not something to make light of when you look at the bigger picture.
     
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  9. quebec

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    Chip.....I agree with you completely. Part of my post to Kevin makes that clear:

    I agree that this person should not be allowed to work in the therapy/counselor field.
    .....David :gay_pride_flag:
     
  10. Destin

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    While I agree it should be illegal, the APA page I linked above makes it sound like it's not...

    "Often, at the first psychotherapy visit, the child, parent and psychologist will sit down together to discuss ground rules for privacy. That way both parents and children know exactly what types of information the psychologist might share with parents, and what he or she will keep private. For example, it is common for parents to agree to be informed only if their minor child is engaged in risky activities"

    It says things like "often" "discuss ground rules" "might share with parents" "agree to be informed only if" etc. which heavily makes it sound like all those things are flexible and changeable, not a specific process restricted by a law.
     
    #10 Destin, Mar 14, 2019
    Last edited: Mar 14, 2019
  11. Chip

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    (Emphasis mine.)
    So I did read the APA comment before I wrote my response, and my response remains unchanged.

    The APA is saying that one common outcome is for parents to be informed only on issues that create risk. What it does not specifically say, but alludes to, through the comment about parent and child sitting down together, is that the therapist is ethically obligated (and this is a lose-your-license type of violation, as well as a HIPAA violation) to disclose whatever privacy policy exists, not only in writing, but verbally at the first session with the client. Many states also make privacy part of their state laws as well.

    If the therapist does not specifically disclose something to the contrary, then the ethical obligation that applies is to not disclose anything. That's how pretty much all health services covered by HIPAA are governed (with certain exceptions for public health risks, risk of harm to self or others, etc.) So while there is likely not a criminally actionable offense here, there is absolutely a severe ethical and HIPAA violation which can (and should) result in either severe sanctions or loss of license.

    The egregiousness of this violation -- it was done without any clinically valid reason, and the therapist knew or should have known that the result would likely be detrimental to the client's best interests, to which the therapist has both an ethical and fiduciary responsibility -- is what makes it so problematic. An inadvertent or unintentional disclosure (leaving a chart out where another client could see it, or mentioning identifiable information about a client to someone without need to know) is still HIPAA actionable, and still an ethics violation, but is not generally punished as severely. On the other hand, a willful and intentional disclosure that is likely to cause harm to the client and is not in his or her best interest, is basically malfeasance and negligence.

    In this case, Kevin was not told at any point that any information would be shared with his parent, was not given an opportunity to discuss what information should or should not be disclosed, and on the contrary had the (reasonable) expectation of confidentiality. The therapist violated the client's trust in a way that could (and did) cause irreparable harm to the therapeutic relationship between client and therapist.

    Additionally, in the case where the therapist feels the need to disclose to a third party (risk of harm to self or others is the most common), the therapist is also ethically obligated to discuss this with the client in advance of the disclosure so that the issue can be processed and hopefully resolved in a way where the client is in agreement.

    This situation is wrong on so many ways and levels. This therapist needs to not be practicing. I guarantee she will cause harm to others; that sort of casual boundary violation is an indication of someone who has no understanding of boundaries, which poses a whole separate level of problems for her work with clients.

    That's why the code of ethics exists, to prevent this sort of behavior, and to severely punish it when it occurs.
     
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