Therapist's professional boundaries in conflict with school's request--help?
July 12, 2012 7:53 PM Subscribe
How do I deal with the conflict between my therapist's professional boundaries and the information my college wants? Also, how to deal with the trust issues this is creating?
posted by anonymous to Education (19 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I withdrew from college last fall due to some trauma-related personal issues. I applied for readmission for this fall and was rejected. I'm appealing this decision, as my application was compiled in March and I've got some major indicators of progress since then. (Received the only A in a tough summer school course at the school in question, glowing-bordering-on-hagiographic recommendation from the prof, etc.)
I met with the dean after I was rejected, and he said that the decision was primarily due to the fact that my therapist appeared to be trying to "telegraph" something with the letter she'd written. It was a really wishy-washy letter, and I had felt like it was a little undermining at the time. I probably should not have submitted it, but I needed something from her in my application.
I already had a new (much less ambiguous) letter of support from my therapist when I met with the dean regarding my appeal, and I gave it to him that day. In the new letter, she was pretty clear that she supported my readmission effort this time, though I'm not sure it was clear enough that she believes I'm able to succeed with a full-time course load this fall. (I tend to think that the dean was looking for the line, "I believe that X can be successful with a full-time course load this fall," and it wasn't there exactly but could be inferred.) The dean was really positive about everything, and I thought that I'd be hearing back about a decision this week, but I haven't.
Apparently someone in the counseling services office at my school left a message with my therapist's office yesterday asking for her to call back regarding the letter. The caller did not say what she specifically wished to discuss.
My therapist is uncomfortable responding to this call because she feels like this whole process has been damaging to our therapeutic relationship (it has) and she doesn't want to put me in the position of wondering what was said. She says that in most cases, she won't offer opinions like this without a subpoena. (She has said this before.) She said that, at most, she'd be willing to leave a voicemail response reiterating her support for my reinstatement; an actual conversation would go beyond her professional boundaries.
This does not seem very supportive to me. At this point, I am having trouble trusting my therapist's ability to communicate with my school in such a way that it doesn't undermine my chances of readmission. Based on my conversation with her today, I honestly don't know whether I can trust her to make unambiguous statements about my abilities when asked. She kept saying she'd be supportive, then gave examples of things she'd say in therapist-speak with so many qualifiers that...well, it sounded like she was hiding something. (I don't think there's anything to hide here; I'm awesome and healthy and college isn't that hard.) I have not yet signed a release allowing her to leave the voicemail or discuss things with the school; she was uncomfortable letting me sign it as concerned as I am.
Therapist and I discussed the possibility of me calling the counseling services office to explain that she has a policy of not discussing clients' treatment without the client's awareness of the scope of the conversation, and to ask what information is being requested. I'm not sure if that makes me look bad. Does it? I'm also thinking of offering to let the counselor who called meet with me for her own evaluation, since my therapist isn't going to be that forthcoming regardless.
This call may just be about the fact that my therapist ran out of personalized envelopes for the new letter and they want to verify that she actually wrote it, but I kinda doubt it.
What should I do at this point in order to help my readmission application and repair the massive amount of damage this has done to my ability to trust my therapist? At this point, I'm kind of pissed that I've been paying for $100/hr conversations with someone who isn't going to help me with this.
Throwaway email: readmitit at gmail dot com