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mkmurph88

Unprofessional Therapist, Awkward Situation, Need Advice

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Hi Everyone,

This is gonna be kind of long, but I would really appreciate any insight. I'm looking for outside opinions on how to handle this situation that has gone a bit sour. 

My boyfriend, Chris, and I both have depression. I have been seeing therapists for many years, but he had not until about 6 months ago when I asked him to give it a chance. He found an older (late 60's, male) therapist, who he seemed to make some progress with despite some early misgivings that were shrugged off. Some of these misgivings included: the therapist rushing to tell Chris he "needed" to see him at least once a week, being very pushy with scheduling appointments, asking how much money Chris makes, charging him $150 a session when his listed price online was $120 (Chris doesn't have insurance). These were all minor things at the time, and he really needed to talk to someone, so he just brushed them off and kept going. He liked the guy because he was laid back in his approach, easy to talk to, and very flexible with his schedule since Chris works a 9-5 job during the week.

Recently, I broke things off with my own therapist for reasons I don't need to go into. Chris convinced me to go with him to meet his therapist and see if I wanted to start seeing him. We thought it might be nice to get a couples thing going, several sessions a month on our own and one or two together.

The first session I was present for, we went together. I was explaining to him why I broke things off with my last therapist and he said "She sounds like a judgemental b***h." ..... That was the first red flag to me. Sort of an unprofessional thing to say, but OK. Everything went smoothly other than that comment and I was still ready to keep going with him.

The second session I was on my own. Before I even went to the appointment I called and asked him what his intake process was/how much I would owe him for the appointment at the time of service. He told me I needed to "Call my insurance company and see if they cover him and ask them how much the co pay will be". I've never in my life had to do that.....shouldn't you know if an insurance company covers you? I've been to probably almost 20 different therapists over the course of my life and I have never once had to call my insurance company and figure out on my own how much my appointment was going to cost. At the end of the session (which he cut me off 10 minutes early) there was a lot of confusion on what I would owe him and he told me to "just give him 60 bucks and if I owe any more he'll let me know". He also answered his cell phone in the middle of the session. In addition, there was no intake paperwork at all. No forms, disclaimers, or anything. I found that very strange as well.

The next week, we both had sessions again. Chris is getting a new job and told the therapist he would be getting new insurance and asked if he took that specific insurance company. Shocker, he told him the same thing to "call the insurance company and see if they accept me". In addition, he made an extremely disgusting comment in regard to my bf speaking about a past relationship. Chris told him his first girlfriend had a very high sex drive and the therapist said "So she liked to f**k?"

There were also some uncomfortable moments in my session, including him unabashedly looking at my body, telling me I "look good" when I described my body image issues, and when my session ended saying "So you got some money for me?".

I discussed all of this with Chris and he agreed that he was kind of done dealing with the unprofessional behavior, not to mention the extremely expensive cost of seeing this guy. He was legitimately sick on Sunday, when we had a couples session scheduled, so he called to cancel. The therapist guilted him about it and said "We'll discuss this at our next session." This was the breaking point. We decided we would take a break from seeing this guy and attempt to find someone with a little more professionalism.

Then yesterday, 48 hours later, the therapist called my bf and left a voice mail saying he was "returning his call". A call was never made. Chris did not answer or call back. Over the course of the last 24 hours this man has tried to call him FIVE TIMES! He left another voicemail saying he was "Again trying to return your call". It doesn't seem like this is going to let up any time soon.

My questions to you are: what would any of you guys do or say to this man in this situation? He will not stop calling. Obviously, there is going to have to be some confrontation here. I don't feel like we owe him anything and he has no right to keep calling. On the other hand, it isn't really polite to just drop off the face of the earth when he did actually help at certain points. He seems like a guy with good intentions, but the unprofessionalism has gone beyond inappropriate. Am I blowing this situation out of proportion? Can anyone give us some advice as to maybe a script Chris could say to this guy? We are both very bad at confrontation so any help would be appreciated!

Edited by mkmurph88

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No you are not blowing it out of proportion.  All of that has gone well beyond the boundaries of accepted or professional behavior.  As a personal trainer I wouldn't even do any of the things he said or did and people don't come to me with serious mental illness.  I would write down all the incidents you have mentioned, and preface your session with the therapist that you need him to not interrupt and let you get all your thoughts/feelings out on this matter.  If you are in the U.S. you can report his behavior to American Psychological Association state licensing board. If he is a social worker, then report him to the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) state licensing board, and so on.  His pricing bull he is pulling on you also needs to be reported to the Better Business Bureau if you are in the U.S.  Look up online where to report him if you are in another country. 

Edited by jsop4

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Thank you so much for your response. I'm not sure if we want to report him, I'm not really trying to ruin the guys career. We'd just like to be left alone and are unsure of the most tactful way to express that to him. Honestly I hadn't even considered reporting him. I guess I will have to talk to my bf about that one.

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what kind of setting did you see him in? is it an office where he is the only therapist or is it more of a clinic type of setting where there is multiple therapists? while I do agree with @jsop4 on reporting him.. there might be someone he answers to like a supervisor? usually this is only in a clinical setting if it is just his practice then going to a board would be the best option.. overall I know you don't want to ruin his career but you might be able to save others from dealing with such atrocious behavior.. the fact that he has called so many times is considered harassment.. you could even file a report with the police about it.. that at least might stop the calls.. 

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He is completely independent, doesn't report to anyone. Works out of a single office in a random building in my downtown area. I just don't know if I feel comfortable reporting him....I would just kind of feel bad. He didn't really hurt us or abuse us, he's just unrelentingly bothering my boyfriend and won't take a hint. I wish I just knew the magic words to get him to go away without resorting to that, but it might be inevitable. i will think on it more about reporting though.....you both may have a point.

And apparently he just called my boyfriend AGAIN for the 6th time in 24 hours. Left a long message trying to get Chris to do a "phone session" since he's going out of town this week. He sounds sane, just completely oblivious and desperate. 

Thanks so much for answering.

Edited by mkmurph88

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Honestly, 

the best way would be to just disappear from his radar and not speak to him again. He is not your friend. This isn't a relationship where you owe the person an explanation or closure. You paid him money for his services, and that's it. He is hassling because he wants money. I ended up dropping off the face of the earth with my past therapist, whom I liked, because I ended up moving away suddenly. She never harassed me nor called. They aren't supposed to. You pay them to listen and advise. You come in at your own time,and will. They are not supposed to push you into it.Therapists are not your friends, and it's technically against the rules for them to be. They are supposed to be professionals. So you have nothing to feel guilty about. I appreciate how considerate you are of his career and such,but from what I read he sounds like an ass. I mean, he looked at your body, guilted your boyfriend for being sick, asked how much your boyfriend is, seems to be a bit too into money, used vulgar language and now is leaving multiple voice mails?  Just tell your boyfriend to block the number if he keeps harassing you. you guys do not need to tell him anything, just ignore him. If this was a personal friend whom you were cutting off, then you should give closure, but it's not. 

Edited by Chubbybunny89

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Thank you, @Chubbybunny89. This is very helpful, pretty much what I told my boyfriend we should do at first, but for some reason it just feels mean. Like you said, we owe him nothing so what difference does it make? I guess we need to just get over our guilty feelings and stop being doormats.

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41 minutes ago, mkmurph88 said:

Thank you so much for your response. I'm not sure if we want to report him, I'm not really trying to ruin the guys career. We'd just like to be left alone and are unsure of the most tactful way to express that to him. Honestly I hadn't even considered reporting him. I guess I will have to talk to my bf about that one.

You don't want to ruin his career but if he is treating you and your guy like this then how is he treating others?  He holds the responsibility for his behavior.  And he will continue it if no one calls him on it. 

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You're right, @jsop4. Thank you for the advice, it's something we hadn't considered but are seriously doing so now. Chris just told me he blocked the guys number. We will look into reporting.

 

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This also just sucks so much because now Chris doesn't have a therapist when he really needs one. So we are gonna have to go through this whole process again. It was hard enough for him to go there in the first place and now to have the guy turn into such a jerk is just too much. He says he's turned off from therapy now and doesn't even want to try to find someone else. So that makes me really sad. :-(

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21 minutes ago, mkmurph88 said:

This also just sucks so much because now Chris doesn't have a therapist when he really needs one. So we are gonna have to go through this whole process again. It was hard enough for him to go there in the first place and now to have the guy turn into such a jerk is just too much. He says he's turned off from therapy now and doesn't even want to try to find someone else. So that makes me really sad. :-(

Give him sometime to recover from this experience and maybe he might come around again and decide to get back into therapy.. it's hard when you go to someone you feel you can trust and they behave in such a way.. I hope he decides to go back as well as find someone more suitable/professional.. good luck to the both of you.. 

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21 hours ago, mkmurph88 said:

This also just sucks so much because now Chris doesn't have a therapist when he really needs one. So we are gonna have to go through this whole process again. It was hard enough for him to go there in the first place and now to have the guy turn into such a jerk is just too much. He says he's turned off from therapy now and doesn't even want to try to find someone else. So that makes me really sad. :-(

It does suck but just tell him finding the right therapist on the first try isn't a given.  Compare it to an anti depressant med, sometimes the first or second one isn't right or the dose so you have to do trial and error a little I went through 3 therapists before I found one who helped me.  It is better to leave a bad therapist who isn't helping than to stay and just fall deeper into despair throwing money at someone who isn't part of the solution. 

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On 3/22/2017 at 0:48 PM, mkmurph88 said:

This also just sucks so much because now Chris doesn't have a therapist when he really needs one. So we are gonna have to go through this whole process again. It was hard enough for him to go there in the first place and now to have the guy turn into such a jerk is just too much. He says he's turned off from therapy now and doesn't even want to try to find someone else. So that makes me really sad. :-(

This might be a little late, but if and when he is ready to look for another therapist, you might suggest he call his insurance company to see if he gets a certain number of initial sessions to shop around for a therapist. I've had a lot of trouble finding therapists that I like, partly because I'm very non-confrontational as well. But I just recently found a new therapist and was pleasantly surprised to find that my insurance company would let me do something like 5 or 6 initial visits per year - so I could set up 5 or 6 appointments with different therapists in a period of a week or two to see which one I liked best.

And since he's pretty new to therapy, he could also try out therapists who practice very different types of therapy, like CBT/DBT, as well.

 

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I'm very late to this thread, and I hope that by now you've been able to resolve some of this anyway, but I wanted to chime in a little on a few things in your original post.

First of all, I'm really sorry for all you've gone through. I do think that this behavior is inappropriate and disturbing (in particular, the repeated and bothersome phone calls), and I want to make a couple of observations and suggestions.

I've had a couple of older, laid-back type male therapists, and this type of language and behavior was common with them. I didn't stay with them long. It was gross and inappropriate, and totally uncalled for. Any client has a choice in whether or not to stay with someone who is inappropriate or more. 

The calls, though, are harassment. I would absolutely report those if you can't get him to stop. I'd make it clear that you are terminating with him (you owe him nothing in terms of an emotional relationship) and do it in writing so you have documentation, if that is what you decide to do, and if they don't stop, then I would go to the phone company and report him.  It's a crime to harass someone over the phone.

Best of luck to both of you!

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