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SWstudent September 4th, 2004 01:22 AM

Professional or personal?
I see a psychiatrist once a week for therapy. I am a social work student. We are going to have field soon and we are required to pick where we want to be for our field practice. I have been thinking to ask my therapist to do field at her private practice, since I am interested in doing therapy myslef. But since she is my therapist, maybe it's not ethical to do field there? Plus, I am in love with her. I am not a man.

Don H. Morris September 5th, 2004 03:24 AM

Re: Professional or personal?
Dear SWstudent,

You ask about the ethics of doing your social work field placement at the same facility as your personal psychiatrist.

This would be clearly in violation of ethical principles if she has any supervisory responsibility for you. Since there may be a senior social worker who would perform that role, it is not clear whether this is tru in this case.

Another way that this situation would clearly violate ethical guidelines is if you and the psychiatrist share a caseload, (e.g., if she treats a client as an individual and you counsel that same client in group therapy). The blurred boundaries between your professional and personal roles would potentially prevent you both from performing at your best.

Regardless of the circumstances, however, I would strongly advise against doing your field placement at the same facility as your personal psychiatrist if there are other options. Even if you have little or no professional contact with your psychiatrist during the placement, you would see her in social and collegial settings outside of your normal therapeutic setting. You tag on at the end that you already have a strong emotional attachment with this person, one that could make out-of-session contacts problematic. You will accomplish your goal to develop as a professional much more easily at a different field placement, one without this distraction.

Best wishes for success.

Don H. Morris, Ed.D.
Licensed Professional Counselor
Little Rock, Arkansas

SWstudent September 5th, 2004 11:14 PM

Re: Professional or personal?
Dear Mr Morris,
Thank you for your detailed reply. I do think that it would be easier to do field in some other setting but like you said, "to see my T in collegial and social setting" is what I really want. I want to get closer to her and become her friend, maybe? Because it's not enough to see her once a week for an hour and stay "just another patient".

William Reid September 7th, 2004 01:01 PM

Re: Professional or personal?
Nice try. My guess is that you are not really a social work trainee, and that you're just yanking our chains. A reputable social work program would almost certainly have already addressed both these topics (being supervised by one's own therapist and acting on being in love -- your word -- with the therapist) by the time its trainees are ready for field work. A reputable therapist would decline both as well, and discuss them with you as part of the treatment. Don Morris nicely answered the questions.

Hey, if I'm wrong, I'm wrong, and am then sorry to be so blunt.

SWstudent September 7th, 2004 05:18 PM

Re: Professional or personal?
No, in fact you are wrong. I am not just yanking your chains. I am a real sw student. School starts tomorrow, I guess they will tell us about what's ethical and what's not. So far, I was not sure, that's why I wrote to you, guys. Thank you for the answers, I think I might reconsider doing field in my T's practice, though I really really want to do it there.

tclient November 15th, 2004 02:41 PM

Re: Professional or personal?
Hi, I'm not in the field but a client currently becoming aware of my own attachment to my therapist and how that relates to my therapy goals. I apologize if posting here is inappropriate.

To SWstudent, I would like to say that while my initial inclination upon developing my attachment was to want more than what the boundaries of therapy allows, I've come to the conclusion that it would not actually be the best result or path to strive for. To have a friendship outside of therapy would make it more difficult to preserve the objectivity and impartiality of the therapy relationship and bring into it a glimpse of the therapist's needs and interests. While I would certainly like to "normalize" the relationship and to offer in return the kind of empathy and caring she's shown me, it would damage and ultimately undermine all the progress we've made. The idea, I believe, is to utilize the bond that has developed in therapy toward gaining a better understanding of what I want from the people who are in my everyday life and how to seek that from those sources (and myself) on my own.

Does it suck tremendously that I can't have this wonderfully caring person in my life with whom I believe I may have a lot in common with? Ohh yes, it sucks and it makes me angry at what would seem to be the irony of it. But I think I've come to terms with it in a way that validates the relationship and bond without necessitating more than it is. It certainly helps that when I discussed all of this with her (at our last session in fact), she took the time to convey her own feelings about the authenticity of the bond and connection, and we discussed boundaries. Especially helpful as well, was discovering a book entitled "In Session: The Bond Between Women and Their Therapists." It addresses all of the things I'm currently feeling and is helping me make sense of it all. I would highly recommend it to you and anyone involved in therapy as a therapist or client, particularly women whose primary issues are related to their mother.

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