If my ex-ther­a­pist is sin­gle, how can I ex­press in­ter­est?

Toronto Star - - LIFE - El­lie

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

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

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.

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 jus­tice 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 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

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. Your on­go­ing sup­port is es­sen­tial. Fall­ing apart with sor­row and self-blame is an es­pe­cially wrong mes­sage for her.

Tip of the day If you fall for a help­ful ther­a­pist, know the po­ten­tial pit­falls in even sug­gest­ing a so­cial re­la­tion­ship. Read El­lie Mon­day to Satur­day. Email el­lie@thes­tar.ca or visit her web­site, el­liead­vice.com. Fol­low @el­liead­vice.

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