How to sue former therapist in NYC
August 20, 2017 3:20 PM   Subscribe

Does anyone have experience suing a therapist? I'm trying to sue for NIED (Negligent Infliction of Emotional Distress) and am seeking any lawyer resources. The kicker is that I'm below-poverty line, which is partly why she did what she did - she knows I can't fight back. Are there any NYC legal aid or pro-bono lawyers that do therapist abuse cases? If no options, I will find money somehow. Any resources are helpful, especially personal experience.

The (female) therapist would tell me she loved me, that I had "a parking space in her heart," would hug me a lot, would always tell me she isn't going anywhere, and then with one week's notice she stopped treatment, refused to refer me out to another therapist, and put in place a 3 months-no contact rule. She never explained why. After a week I began having new and severe trauma symptoms, so I contacted her for a referral and she still didn't referred me out. I'm going on 4 months with no therapist for C-PTSD, BPD, and dissociative symptoms.
posted by Kombucha3452 to Law & Government (10 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Oh, damn, that sounds too bad. How about taking care of this though.

I'm going on 4 months with no therapist for C-PTSD, BPD, and dissociative symptoms.

Really? That doesn't jibe with this.

Are there any NYC legal aid or pro-bono lawyers that do therapist abuse cases? If no options, I will find money somehow.

If you want revenge, the best revenge is seeking medical treatment for your conditions, as there are surely many more sliding scale or free options to do so (and setting it up would be easier) than a lawsuit that is unlikely to succeed. Even if you are interested in doing this, I am sure that actually finding a new therapist, and discussing the situation with them, would better your chances of navigating the situation successfully.
posted by benadryl at 5:27 PM on August 20, 2017 [18 favorites]

This sounds really horrible and re-traumatizing, and I'm really sorry it happened. I have to agree that pursuing legal action should probably wait until you've gotten treatment sorted out again -- a lawsuit would be a huge stressor.

Do you have leads for affordable treatment?
posted by schadenfrau at 5:52 PM on August 20, 2017 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Schadenfrau - I love your username! Thank you for your empathy and kind words. Sadly I have no leads for affordable treatment. The therapist comes from a wealthy family, so she would not be put out in the least. Suing her is also one of my few ways of affording the treatment for the re-traumatization that she caused me.
posted by Kombucha3452 at 6:04 PM on August 20, 2017

Actually, file a complaint with her licensing board could have more impact since the result could be that she loses her license to practice therapy. Also, cheaper for you but you would have less control over how things proceeded. But doesn't produce any money to pay for future counseling.
posted by metahawk at 7:07 PM on August 20, 2017 [5 favorites]

I am not your lawyer and this is not legal advice. If the facts are as you've described them, this case will be almost impossible to win. Any tort of infliction of emotional distress is difficult to prove. Negligent infliction will usually require a corresponding physical harm. And just from reading your version of the story, I can construct the likely narrative a defense would offer.

It sounds like you are in mental health crisis. Get treatment first. Get stabilized so you don't get hurt further. Consider filing a complaint with the licensing board then.
posted by praemunire at 7:18 PM on August 20, 2017 [17 favorites]

Response by poster: praemunire - does having every session recorded help?
posted by Kombucha3452 at 7:29 PM on August 20, 2017

IAAL; IANYL. I'm very sorry you're going through this. I had a therapist who turned out to be a total dick, too, and it was awful and frankly I'm still kind of pissed about it these 20 years later.

However, I can here to say the same thing praemunire did: spare yourself the experience of trying to sue your therapist, especially for negligent infliction of emotional distress, which isn't going to be an appropriate cause of action in this circumstance. Truly. All it will do is make you more furious and miserable; I promise you it won't get you any satisfaction, much less a money judgment. First get treated, then file a complaint with the licensing board. Don't mess around with lawsuits.

This advice stands even if you have the sessions recorded.
posted by holborne at 7:35 PM on August 20, 2017 [9 favorites]

I am not a lawyer, but I can say that even *intentional* infliction of emotional distress gets taught in law school like it's a weird curiosity. I don't know where you found out that NIED was a thing and what led you to believe it applies to situations like this, but this highlights the reason why you shouldn't read stuff on the internet about how to sue people; you're not getting accurate information and it's only going to be more upsetting in the long run.

The fact that your therapist did a shitty thing does not mean that you have a case to sue your therapist, and even if you could sue your therapist, lawsuits can take literal years. You need to move forward with getting treatment with the resources you have now, even if they're limited. This is not the solution you're looking for. There are many, many, many wrongs in this world that the law does not actually provide any redress for--especially things that harm feelings instead of bodies or property, however real the hurt is.
posted by Sequence at 8:08 PM on August 20, 2017 [11 favorites]

If you need treatment and cannot afford it, call 888-NYC-WELL to be connected with services. Not sure if you've tried this already. I know many people who have found resources through callen-lorde, institute for family health and other low income providers.
posted by decathexis at 10:35 PM on August 20, 2017 [3 favorites]

I wish I could disagree with the comments about suing because that's a horrible thing you went through.

I'm more concerned that you are not currently receiving mental wellness treatment. Even if your ex-therapist gave you a referral, I'd be suspicious of the quality/appropriateness of it, so I wouldn't let that be a reason not to move forward and take care of yourself in this respect. Open Path is another resource serving those with low-income.

Very best wishes for your healing journey.
posted by dancing leaves at 2:11 PM on August 21, 2017 [1 favorite]

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