I don’t know anything about this particular therapist. It seems like you and I are similar in this regard. I don’t know how much experience he’s had. I don’t know what education he’s had. I don’t know what degrees or training he has completed.
You and I differ in one very important detail: you’ve had the experience of sitting through a lengthy session with him. The result of your session is that you have little trust for him, little confidence in him and serious reservations about returning. That’s enough. Any one of those things is a more than sufficient reason to find another therapist. You list a number of other reasons why he might not be the right therapist for you, but the only important one is that you are left with serious reservations after your long session. It is these reservations and those alone, that say you should look for another therapist.
It is the therapist that matters, not the surroundings in which he works. Many of the most successful and highly paid therapists in the world, conduct therapy in an office at their home. I’m equally sure, that some of the worst therapists in the world also conduct therapy at their home office. In many ways it doesn’t matter where the therapy is conducted. It only matters how good the therapy is. Many well-known celebrities and wealthy members of a community, seek out a therapist who does not have an office and waiting room in a public building. They simply do not want public exposure. They don’t want to be seen opening a door that says “therapy, therapist, counselor, psychologist, psychiatrist, etc. They don’t want to be sitting in a waiting room with other individuals and hear their name called out. They seek out privacy and anonymity.
I cannot say that they are either right or wrong to prefer privacy and anonymity. If they prefer it that way, then that is certainly the right way for them. If entering a public building for purposes of counseling or therapy, is in any way anxiety producing for them, then by no means should they do so.
You have no obligation to return to your therapist. Forget the book. Mail it back to him, have a friend drop it off on his porch, place it in his mailbox or simply donate it to the local library. The fact that you feel somewhat compelled to return, due to the possession of his book, shows an unhealthy power balance. He should have no power over you and you should feel no need to continue with him. You did not ask to borrow the book. He handed you the book and said read this before our next session. He did not respect your wishes as to whether or not you would want to have a second session. He never asked. Would I say this is unethical? Yes, I would.
The next time you look for a therapist, make sure you get all the answers to the questions that I have listed above. Expect that often you will have to try two or three or even more therapists before you find one that you like and respect. The therapist that you had chosen, was the only one that offered you a discount and agreed to see you. That is not a basis for choosing a therapist. Don’t feel bad that you made the wrong choice. You tried and believe me, trying is the most important thing. Keep trying. I guarantee you that there are good therapists out there and I also guarantee you that there are poor therapists out there. Choosing a therapist is not like buying a loaf of bread. You might say “all white bread tastes pretty much the same, so I’ll just buy the one that is cheapest.” Sometimes, you just can’t afford to buy anything other than the cheapest bread. When that occurs, you might ask yourself if you really need bread. If it turns out that you don’t really need the bread, then perhaps it would be best to wait until you can afford a better loaf of bread. Also remember, that often times the best bread is not the most expensive one. Find a bread you like and find a therapist you like. Neither has to be the most expensive one. It just has to be the one that you find, you like the most. Good luck and don’t give up on your search for good therapy.
Dr. Kristina Randle