Man finds him­self fall­ing for help­ful ther­a­pist

Penticton Herald - - LIVING - EL­LIE TESHER

DEAR EL­LIE: Sev­eral months ago, I’d be­come emo­tion­ally “out of sorts” and sought coun­selling (first-time).

I’m male, early 60’s, pro­fes­sional back­ground, per­ma­nently sep­a­rated, no de­pen­dents.

At a fam­ily ser­vices agency, a Cog­ni­tive Psy­chol­o­gist was as­signed.

She’s in her 40’s and within six ses­sions, was un­lock­ing a long-lin­ger­ing is­sue (from my child­hood).

I’ve been able to iden­tify and man­age it, and my mood dis­ap­peared.

We ended the ses­sions, and, at a “group so­cial” event, she was nearly al­ways around me.

Dur­ing the hour-long ses­sions, we’d com­mu­ni­cated with a level of in­ti­macy and oc­ca­sional hu­mour that as­ton­ished me — al­ways strictly pro­fes­sional, yet any­one would sense my grow­ing at­trac­tion to her.

How­ever, I’m es­pe­cially sen­si­tive to the per­ils of “cross­ing the line.”

The LAST THING I’d ever wish to do is place her in a po­si­tion (even by per­cep­tion) that com­pro­mises her stand­ing with her em­ployer.

But I want to know her bet­ter, and won­der as to whether, and how, I can ex­press my feel­ings.

While it’s dif­fer­ent if she’s “at­tached,” I do have some in­for­ma­tion sug­gest­ing that she is not. I don’t want to lose her friend­ship (our ob­vi­ous rap­port). What’s your ad­vice about my re­veal­ing per­sonal in­ter­est in this woman?

AN­SWER: De­cide first whether you’d ever want to see her pro­fes­sion­ally again. If so, any at­tempt to see her so­cially would end that pos­si­bil­ity. If not, there’s still the ques­tion of “how to ap­proach.” Be aware that it’s not un­com­mon for some ther­apy clients and even med­i­cal pa­tients, to feel a spe­cial “bond” with the pro­fes­sional who helps them.

Make con­tact with a sim­ple ques­tion, such as, “would it be ap­pro­pri­ate if we met away from your of­fice for a cof­fee and so­cial con­ver­sa­tion?”

It’s re­spect­ful and re­strained, yet fairly clear that you’re not see­ing this as a pro­fes­sional en­counter. Her an­swer will likely be even clearer. If she’s will­ing to meet, you’re on a new so­cial level. If she’s not, it should be no sur­prise or in­sult, given com­mon pro­fes­sional rules against ther­a­pist-client re­la­tion­ships.

TIP OF THE DAY If you fall for a help­ful ther­a­pist, know the po­ten­tial pit­falls in even sug­gest­ing a so­cial re­la­tion­ship.

Email el­lie@thes­ Fol­low @el­liead­vice.

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