I started seeing a therapist at my college’s health center in September of my freshman year. We had weekly appointments set up and I felt like I finally connected with a therapist I liked and could trust and was able to start moving forward with some of my issues. (This is wrong and embarrassing to even admit to, but…) I was curious and googled my therapist’s name one day. After going through some search results, eventually I found her Instagram account and looked through a few pictures. It became almost a routine for me to check her page and see if there were any new photos she had posted–and this went on for the second half of my spring semester. I was always careful to always be logged out of my account so I wouldn’t like any of her posts by accident. When the year ended about a month ago and I moved back home, it was almost a comfort to me that I would be able to look through her posts even if I couldn’t have another therapy session until September. I know this is transference and it’s wrong but it became such a habit that I didn’t think much of it.
Fast forward to about a week ago and I went on her page only to find her account is now private. I was terrified that she knew I found the account and was looking through her pictures. Now I’m not sure if we should continue therapy in the fall. I know school starts again in September and I shouldn’t be worried now, but therapy is such an important part of my life there and I can’t imagine not having the support. I don’t know if I should bother going back to see her..because clearly it’s strange when your clients are going through your social media. I don’t know for sure if it was even me that prompted the account to be private (I was always super careful), but either way I feel creepy and embarrassed by the whole thing. How can I stop agonizing over this for the whole summer…and should I go back to therapy?

A. I am certain that you’re not the first person who has googled their therapist. Many therapists advertise and have profiles on the Internet, and they do this precisely because they know that people are researching them. It’s not unusual to want to research a potential therapist.

You may be overreacting to what you have done. It’s highly unlikely that she knew that you were looking at her account. She likely made it private for some other reason. Perhaps it was related to professionalism. She might have realized that having a public account might be problematic in her work as a counselor. There are thousands of potential reasons why she made it private. In all likelihood, it probably had nothing to do with you.

Yes, you should go back to therapy. You and she had a good connection and you should not let this get in the way. In addition, you stated that therapy is an important part of your life. That would suggest she was having a positive benefit for you. Ending the relationship over this minor occurrence would be an unnecessary loss.

Finally, I would encourage you to talk to her about what happened. In all likelihood, this will be a nonevent. Please take care.

Dr. Kristina Randle