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Therapist stops treatment to date patient


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A very close family member of mine is in the midst of breaking up her marriage after learning her husband is gay and in love with a man. She's been a complete wreck emotionally, to top it off her husband got a DUI and lost his job. This all began a year ago. I suggested she seek counseling and eventually she did.

When she began seeing a therapist I was relieved, she needed help and support. Well, in January she told me she changed therapists, after seeing the first therapist for about 2 months, I didn't ask why. A week ago she admitted that she was dating her original therapist. She went on to say that during their sessions they realized they wanted to explore a relationship outside of therapy, and he stated they needed to end treatment in order to 'date'. She thinks it's ok now that he is no longer treating her.

I am shocked!! She's emotionally devasted with her current situation, she sought help, and this 'therapist' decides he wants to date her? I am beyond disgusted. How can a proffessional therapist prey on their patients like this? Yes, prey, she is emotionaly incapacitated with her current situation, and this guy decides he wants to pursue a relationship with her outside of therapy? Is this some kind of joke? SOmeone please tell me I'm wrong. She's barely able to keep it together as it is, the prospect of losing her home to the divorce, the lose of her financial security,, a complete lifestyle change is upon her, and it is stressing her out, that's why she sought counseling. I'm absolutely horrified at the whole situation, she sought help from a professional, and as far as I can tell she's 1000 times worse off, emotionallly and psychologically. This should be illegal.

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welcome to enotalone.


well, i guess just because someone has a degree saying that they are a psychologist doesn't mean they are wise. i know plenty of really messed up psychologists who have made a lot of bad life decisions. on the plus side, i think it's good that she stopped treatment with him to explore their relationship. has she found a new therapist now? but, if as you say, she is in an emotionally bad place, it sounds like it was a bad idea for them to pursue this relationship now.


but, sigh, they are grown adults so there's not much you can do or say. just be supportive of her and urge her to find better help.

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It's generally against ethical principles for a therapist to date a patient. Even if they quit treating them, if they are a very recent patient it's generally frowned upon.


About all you can do is file a complaint with the state/provincial ethics board on that therapist and tell them what you know.

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That's very unprofessional of him.


Yes, it's not all HIS fault, but it can be pegged on him. Part of being professional is doing the right thing even when others aren't. Just because she was laying it on thick with him doesn't make it okay for him to go along with it. He knows better!


This is an iffy zone. Technically, she really should have only dated him if she hasn't been his patient in the past (they met elsewhere). Despite her not being his patient, it's still wrong because he used that doctor/patient relationship to start a relationship with a patient!


Very, very wrong, in bad taste, and unprofessional. I can bet you that if it got out, he'd be in tons of crap. His colleagues just have to see his patient records, "connect the dots", and there you go, he's found out.

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I am fairly certain that in some states a therapist could lose their license for this.


A therapist is in a postion of power over another person. Starting a romantic relationship even if the patient/therapist relationship has ended in extremely irresponisible.


Check the laws where you live.

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Thanks Fudgie,


I do feel the therapist has violated his doctor/patient relationship. She's vulnerable, she's desperate, she's looking for affirmation, her self esteem is completely non existent, she summed up her courage and sought counseling from a proofessional therapist who is supposed to help her through this trauma, and this is what she gets from her therapist? Mind boggling! He's absolutely taking advantage of her, he's capatilizing on her vulnerability. She's very attractive, and desperate, and vulnerable, and lonely, and instead of helping her get through this tough time, he ignored his obligation to treat her, instead he saw an opportunity and he took it. It's beyond unprofessional. Any advances she may or may not have made should have been recognized for what they were, a patient screaming for help, for hope, for affirmation, for guidance. I am so disappointed.

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It does sound like she is vulnerable. It would have been easy for him to take advantage. It's really wrong that they struck up a relationship in that setting. It's very wrong.


Do you know what hospital/practice he works at? I would file a complaint. If you feel that your friend is a lot worse off and that something fishy is going on, I'd definitely report it. Therapists are supposed to be a safe, supportive sounding board for those who need help. They should NOT be starting up relationships with these patients - regardless of the reason (sinister or not).


I would file a complaint. He needs to get the message that this is NOT okay for a trusted professional to do.

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