I had been seeing my therapist for 2 and a half years. Last week she dropped a bombshell on me and told me she couldn’t be my therapist anymore because she didn’t feel like she could help me with my OCD. She said it would be unethical to continue with me since she has no knowledge on how to treat OCD. Yesterday was our last appointment. She gave me her email a while back and said I could email her whenever I want. She told me not to email her anymore. I also asked if she was going to not see her other OCD patients anymore and she said she would still see them.
I’m a little confused. How come it is unethical for her to see me with OCD when she can’t help me but will see other OCD patients? I also feel sad that she doesn’t want me to email her anymore. She is cutting ties like I never even existed or these two years didn’t happen. I wanted to email her these questions, but I want to respect her boundaries. What should I do?
A. She left you little choice in the matter. She ended the relationship and in all likelihood would not respond to your requests. You may have no choice but to find a new therapist.
Ethically, if what you say is correct, then your therapist did not handle this matter well. Termination of psychotherapy is an important aspect in the training of a psychotherapist.
Psychotherapists are ethically bound to protect their clients from harm. Generally speaking, it would be appropriate for her to terminate the therapeutic relationship if she were unable to provide the appropriate level of clinical treatment.
However, that is not what seemingly happened in this case. Her stated reason for ending the relationship was because she didn’t have the knowledge to treat obsessive-compulsive disorder yet was still willing to treat other patients with this disorder.
In that case, she may have been guilty of abandonment, which is the “inappropriate termination of therapy.”
Please keep in mind that I cannot definitively determine if your therapist is guilty of abandonment because I only have a very limited set of facts but it is possible. There are many highly qualified therapists who would be very happy to have you as a client. Please take care.
Dr. Kristina Randle
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 15 Jun 2014
Randle, K. (2014). Quick Question About My Therapist. Psych Central. Retrieved on February 1, 2015, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2014/06/15/quick-question-about-my-therapist/