Ask El­lie: Man at­tracted to his ther­a­pist won­ders if he should let her know

The Daily Courier - - FRONT PAGE - EL­LIE TESHER Email el­lie@thes­tar.ca. Fol­low @el­liead­vice.

QUES­TION: Sev­eral months ago, I’d be­come emo­tion­ally “out of sorts” and sought coun­selling (first­time).

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 40s 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? — Dilemma

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 ther­a­pist­client re­la­tion­ships.

QUES­TION: My daugh­ter, 22, re­cently told me that the same-age young man she’d been see­ing had phys­i­cally abused/as­saulted her.

I had a panic at­tack, but man­aged to drive to the po­lice sta­tion where she re­vealed all the de­tails of what hap­pened that night.

He’s now in jail, and will go through the crim­i­nal sys­tem.

How do I help my daugh­ter make her hurt go away? I of­ten find her cry­ing in her room, and it breaks my heart.

How can she sur­vive this and be the young happy girl she once was?

I also can­not help blam­ing my­self. How did I not no­tice this or see it sooner? I feel I failed her as a mother and her pro­tec­tor. I fear he’d start pur­su­ing her again and she’d speak with him.

The author­i­ties made it clear to both that he’s not to come near her or any places he knows she’d fre­quent. How do I pro­tect her? — Heart­bro­ken Mother AN­SWER: Many ther­a­pists and coun­selling agen­cies of­fer spe­cific sex­ual abuse coun­selling and re­lated re­sources which can be found on­line.

Your daugh­ter, the prime vic­tim, needs bol­ster­ing to be­lieve it wasn’t her fault, plus con­fir­ma­tion for her courage in speak­ing out.

You need sep­a­rate coun­selling as­sur­ance that you’re not a failed mother.

Her up­bring­ing at home con­trib­uted to her in­ner strength to han­dle this painful event. Now your on­go­ing sup­port is es­sen­tial.

Fall­ing apart with sor­row and self-blame is an es­pe­cially wrong mes­sage for her at this time.

Reader’s Com­men­tary: On one more op­tion for the man with hu­mil­i­at­ing body odour:

“In 2005, I was told by some­one I could no longer go some­where be­cause peo­ple couldn’t stand the smell of me.

I went to see my fam­ily doc­tor who was a holis­tic type.

He im­me­di­ately tested me for a zinc de­fi­ciency .... and “Bingo.”

I started on a daily sup­ple­ment regime of zinc (bis­g­ly­ci­nate 155mg), as well as cop­per (bis­g­ly­ci­nate 2mg) be­cause zinc will de­plete your body’s sup­ply of cop­per if you don’t), and have done so ever since.

My body odour prob­lem went away and never re­turned.”

El­lie: I re­mind read­ers that even with sug­ges­tions of over-the-counter sup­ple­ments, it’s im­por­tant to first see a physi­cian in case there are other med­i­cally-based causes for body odour.

It’s equally im­por­tant to be clin­i­cally tested for any sug­gested de­fi­ciency, and not rely on an­other per­son’s ex­pe­ri­ence and re­ac­tion. TIP OF THE DAY If you fall for a help­ful ther­a­pist, know the po­ten­tial pit­falls in even sug­gest­ing a so­cial re­la­tion­ship.

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