My therapist betrayed my trust

My therapist is gay so there are no sexual issues here. However, my therapist for six years has made me believe that he cares about me and that we are friends. I have loaned money to him many times, and he always paid me back.

I had a medical emergency last weekend and I was heavily medicated. I knew that this therapist came into my home and wrote down my credit card information so he could pay back what he owed me, but this therapist dropped me off and never came again. I don't know what to do.

Eric Ström, JD, MA, LMHC
Eric Ström, JD, MA, LMHC
Attorney & Licensed Mental Health Counselor

I'm sorry to hear that this has happened. Counselors are legally and ethically required to make sure that they always put the wellbeing of their clients above their own interests. In addition, counselor ethical rules, and the laws in just about every state, make it illegal for counselors to take advantage of a client financially. A counselor borrowing money from a client (even if the counselor pays it back) would usually be considered to be taking advantage of the client.

There are a few options you have at this point if you can't (or don't want) to continue to try to contact him directly. You can file a complaint with your states' regulatory board and let them know what has happened.  An investigator will then look into the situation for you.  Another option would be for you to find a different counsleor who can provide you with an independent and netural point of view to help you figure out how you want to handle this situation.   

The information above is intended as general information...  (more)The information above is intended as general information based on minimal information, and does not constitute health care or legal advice. This information does not constitute communication with a counselor/therapist/attorney nor does it create a therapist-client nor attorney-client relationship nor any of the privileges that relationship may provide.   If you are currently feeling suicidal or are in crisis, call 911 or proceed to your local emergency room.
Sherry Katz, LCSW
Sherry Katz, LCSW
Couples and Family Therapist, LCSW

Do you want this therapist to have your credit card information?

If not, then cancel the credit cards that you believe may now be accessible to this therapist.

Therapists are expected to keep very clear boundaries between the therapy work and not have other relationships, such as "friend" or "money lender" with someone who is their patient.

Therapists are never "friends" with their patients.

Letting you believe that you are the therapist's friend, is a violation of professional ethics and almost definitely, a violation of the Consumer Protection laws in your State.

Start by dropping this person as your therapist.  He has broken too many ethical standards to be worthy of offering therapy.

Think over if you'd like remaining friends with this person, whom you describe as lacking integrity and stealing from you.

If you need help getting back money from him, then contact the police and talk to a detective about what has happened so far.  The detective will advise according to the laws in your community and State, whether to file a police report, and what steps are necessary to utilize the Court system to get back your funds.

If you'd like doing future patients who may be treated to similar ways by this therapist, a favor, go online and file a complaint with the therapist's Licensing Board.

Good luck!

The information above is intended as general information...  (more)The information above is intended as general information based on minimal information, and does not constitute health care advice. This information does not constitute communication with a counselor/therapist nor does it create a therapist-client relationship nor any of the privileges that relationship may provide.   If you are currently feeling suicidal or are in crisis, call 911 or proceed to your local emergency room.

Therapists, regardless of the discipline (i.e. licensed professional counselor, social worker, psychologist) are expected to put the health and well-being of the client first. Each professional discipline does have a code of ethics as well as a licensing board in each state. In order to get licensed the therapist must agree to abide by the highest standards of conduct including state, local and federal regulations in addition to the code of conduct. You do have the option of reporting this person to the appropriate licencing board in your state. The other concern is if this person has unauthorized access to your credit card. If you did not give it to him or authorize use this becomes a legal matter that you can also report to the legal authorities in your city or town. Therapy and counseling are effective because professionals gain the trust of the client. Betrayal of that trust by crossing boundaries and developing a relationship outside the therapist/client relationship is hurtful. Please know that the vast majority of counselors are highly ethical individuals who put the welfare of the client first.

The information above is intended as general information...  (more)The information above is intended as general information based on minimal information, and does not constitute health care advice. This information does not constitute communication with a counselor/therapist nor does it create a therapist-client relationship nor any of the privileges that relationship may provide. If you are currently feeling suicidal or are in crisis, call 911 or proceed to your local emergency room.

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