Friendships with Ex-patients: Why I Say “No”
I thought this was an excellent, compassionate explanation of why a therapist might choose to not have a personal relationship with you. I very much respected his stance of continuing to care for his clients even after they were no longer his clients. I thought this might be helpful for a lot of people to read.
I recently received an invitation from a former patient to meet for coffee. This warm-hearted offer came from a man who is as principled and decent as anyone I know. What’s more, he is funny and bright — just the sort of person I’d enjoy having as a friend.
I said no.
Now you might ask, why did I make this decision? This was not the first such request since I retired over two years ago and not the first from a person I thought companionable. I’ve said no to all of them. What I’m about to do is explain how I reasoned this out. I’ll finish with my response to this terrific guy.
First, nothing in the American Psychological Association’s Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct forbids me from having communication with former patients. Nowhere does it say I can’t be friends with them. We are, however…
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