Therapist Is Threatening Me

By Daniel J. Tomasulo, PhD, TEP, MFA, MAPP

My therapist and I had an emotional and sexual affair for nearly a year. After her spouse found out about the affair, our relationship ended quickly. I was distraught and had a near fatal suicide attempt.

After some time, I’ve come to the realization the relationship was a huge mistake and ethical boundaries were crossed and broken. I am torn to whether I should report my ex therapist to the ethics board for license review. I threatened her with having her license revoked and she threatened me that she would reveal what we discussed in therapy to my husband in retaliation.

What should I do? This situation is causing me to constantly have suicidal thoughts and has made my mental state worse than ever. I can’t seem to get a grip and I don’t know the right the to do. I’m afraid to trust another therapist. What is my moral obligation to report the affair? I have proof of the affair with hundreds of emails that we exchanged. Please help me. I can’t take this anymore and have no one to talk to.

A: First let me say that I am so very sorry that your vulnerability and trust were betrayed in this therapeutic relationship. You reactions make sense to me, and I can certainly understand the struggle to trust a therapist again. I appreciate the trust you are putting in PsychCentral by writing us here.

What happened is wrong and not your fault. Therapists are bound by legal and ethical guidelines set by their profession and the first place I would look to the professional association that governs the type of therapist she is. Psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, licensed professional counselors, etc. all have separate associations that have guidelines for ethical behavior and client rights. I would call the proper agency, explain that you have a serious complaint, but also concerns about trust and the symptoms that you are having. They will give you options and procedures that you can follow.

This process usually requires a great deal of courage along with support. While I understand your hesitancy in trusting another therapist, I do believe there is a way to move forward with a measure of safety.

Since it is support you need I would look to join a therapy group in your area, either one run by a facility or a private practitioner with a decent reputation. In a group the other members of the group witness each member’s self-disclosure—as is the group therapist’s response. Just like your instinct to ask your question here—in a public forum — a group process begins to undo the secrecy and inhibition that often accompany this type of betrayal. You can find therapists in your area by looking at the find help tab at the top of the page.

Let me end where I began: What happened is wrong and not your fault. My sincerest hope is that you find the information, courage, and support you need to deal with this and grow through it.

Wishing you patience and peace,
Dr. Dan
Proof Positive Blog @ PsychCentral

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 6 Mar 2013

APA Reference
Tomasulo, D. (2013). Therapist Is Threatening Me. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 31, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2013/03/06/therapist-is-threatening-me/