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Re: email contact after termination gardenergirl

Posted by jane d on July 23, 2004, at 13:50:56

In reply to Re: email contact after termination Susan47, posted by gardenergirl on July 22, 2004, at 0:36:31

> And I do trust this client. I think that must be why I gave her a business card, which was a personal card, not related to the center where I was working. I think it was all I had on me to write on at the time. But I knew she would not abuse having my email addy or I would not have given it to her. So my intial reaction is to

I see you have already made your decision but I was so interested in the question and in all your answers that I wanted to jump in too.

I'm like Susan in that I like to be trusted. And it bothers me that trust seems to be lacking in my dealings with mental health professionals. I know that they may have different rationales for it but the secrecy about their private life always makes me feel like they expect me to suddenly turn into a stalker. Prohibitions on future contact would too. With my dentist or a doctor that I have seen frequently so something unrelated I would have no hesitation with staying in touch. A relationship was established over the years just thru the frequent contact. And I know a great deal about their lives in passing too. That feels normal. That therapists in general would react differently feels stigmatizing to me.

I definately can see a benefit to me to knowing that the option for contact was there. I already find myself thinking about her opinions on my actions and end up being influenced for the better. A bit like she's looking over my shoulder. And I would expect that feeling to continue in much the same way that you want to show the professor or mentor who's gone the extra bit for you that you've done well. I don't know that I'd ever actually have to get in touch to get that benefit - just know that it was possible. (Of course this is a bit exploitative - getting use out of your therapist without paying. :) ).

That's me as a client. However if you were my sister my thoughts would be a little different. If your job exposes you to risks you have to protect yourself in your private life. If you think that your clients might become stalkers then you need to do everything you can to prevent that - whether your trustworthy clients like it or not. You can tell them it's professional policy and why it exists while making clear you know it doesn't apply to them if you must explain that. Protecting yourself includes people who aren't threatening physically but want to intrude on your personal life. Or who want you providing therapy and supporting them when you are off duty. You'll need that off duty time.
And of course, you need to protect yourself legally and with your licensing board. And finally, though I argued at the start that you should trust people I'd also suggest hedging my bets. Use a different email address for your clients and former clients. And save the emails you send and receive. I don't know whether it's appropriate to put them in the clients file. I seem to recall someone being very upset about that - but it might be professional standards. But if you don't do that set up another file just for these contacts. Just in case you need to defend yourself down the line.

So much for trust.





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