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Help with Unhealthy Relationship with Therapist

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current_problem: I am very concerned about my boyfriend’s relationship with his therapist. He has OCD and trouble with decisions and anxiety. She sees him 1-2 times a week, anywhere from 1 to 3 hours per session.

Previously, he was in a 12 year abusive relationship. His current therapist (who he has been seeing for 18 months) helped him escape this bad relationship. He is now very loyal to her.

We have been dating for 12 months.

I am codependent, getting treatment, and going to meetings.

Every problem between us which arises, every fight, is interpreted by his therapist as me emotionally abusing and manipulating him. (I called him a bad name once in the heat of a fight, a codependent rage, and made several disparaging comments to him over the course of our relationship).

But she refuses to allow us to go to couples counseling, saying that she won’t treat him if we go see someone. She has diagnosed me as abusive, though she has never met me nor asked to meet me.

She has asked for my therapist’s name and number to talk with her however. My therapist, who I trust, is concerned about the ethics of the other therapist and refuses to engage.

Over the past month, things have been going very well, due to my progress in my CODA treatment.

My boyfriend, however, is very stressed about his work and new home. His therapist, in response, said that emotional manipulation could be contributing to his stress and advised him to read a book about emotional manipulation while he was on vacation with me. I was very hurt that he would bring this book on a special romantic getaway.

He apologized for the book but then asked if I would sign a waiver agreeing not to press charges if he should accidentally punch me in his sleep. I asked if he was threatening me, he said no. His therapist said that she was worried that, under the stress of our relationship, (he was violent in his sleep with his abusive girlfriend before) that he would sleep-hit me, I would call the cops, and he would go to jail!

He doesn’t think I’m abusive, loves me, wants to have a life with me etc.

Is it appropriate for a therapist to have this much control over their client and plant crazy ideas in the head of someone with OCD?

Help with Unhealthy Relationship with Therapist

Answered by on -


What you say in your letter does concern me. Professionals don’t offer diagnoses on the basis of a third party report. Most would welcome your involvement or would refer the two of you to a couples’ therapist. I’m especially concerned about the frequency and length of his sessions, which is highly unusual. It’s unlikely insurance would pay for it at the usual and customary rate. People who need that level of support are often referred to an in-patient stay.

On the other hand, it occurs to me that the only information you have about the therapist’s behavior and even the frequency and length of sessions is from your boyfriend. Is it possible that he is exaggerating or lying about his therapist’s involvement for his own purposes?

Before concluding that the therapist is too controlling, please do have a very honest conversation with the boyfriend. If you remain concerned about the therapist’s ethics, then contact your state’s board of registration to make a complaint. Your therapist can help you find the contact information.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

Help with Unhealthy Relationship with Therapist

Therapists live, online right now, from BetterHelp:

Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

Dr. Marie is licensed as both a psychologist and marriage and family counselor. She specializes in couples and family therapy and parent education. Follow her on Facebook or Twitter.

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2018). Help with Unhealthy Relationship with Therapist. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 30, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 May 2018 (Originally: 9 Nov 2016)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 May 2018
Published on Psych All rights reserved.