Is It Okay that My Boyfriend and I Are Seeing the Same Therapist?
I’ve been seeing the best therapist I’ve ever worked with for almost three years and, in that time, he’s helped me significantly, including with coming out as trans and gay and gaining confidence to date and try out relationships. I’ve been on several dates with a great guy who is also trans and gay and we just discovered that we see the same therapist. I would say the chances were slim but my therapist is out as a queer man and many of his clients are queer. Additionally, as I’m out socializing more, trying new bars and parties, and meeting more people, I realize that my therapist and I will likely be running in similar circles.
I guess my question is about managing relationships. I know that my therapist would never confirm to me or my boyfriend that either of us are clients of his, and I know that in a small city with a smaller LGBTQ scene he’s likely had to face similar encounters before but I’m worried that this will affect our therapeutic relationship or my new romantic relationship. What kinds of guidelines or ethical areas should I be thinking about? If my boyfriend and I continue to see each other and become more serious, will one of us have to switch to a new therapist from this awesome guy we’ve both been seeing for several years?
A: There are many reasonable and ethical ways to do therapeutic work. Some therapists refuse to see both romantic partners. Other therapists (like me) do so routinely.
Your therapist is the only one that doesn’t know that he is seeing two members of a couple. That isn’t helpful. The best thing to do is for each of you to give him permission to talk to the other. Say something like, “I know that, due to confidentiality, you can’t confirm whether X is in treatment with you as well as me but we’re a couple. If he is, I want you to know that it’s okay with me for you to confirm with him that I am in treatment with you as well.” Once you each give him permission, he may want to see both of you in a session to figure out the best way to proceed.
As you well know, the LGBTQ community in any area is often small and the number of therapists who self-identify is smaller still. As you pointed out, it is inevitable that you will have complicated connections with each other. The best way to deal with it is to acknowledge it and talk about how best to handle it before you run into problematic situations.
I wish you well.
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2018). Is It Okay that My Boyfriend and I Are Seeing the Same Therapist?. Psych Central. Retrieved on April 21, 2018, from https://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2018/04/16/is-it-okay-that-my-boyfriend-and-i-are-seeing-the-same-therapist/