Therapeutic Halt?  

Gender: Man
Age: 28
Name: Jo


Dear Therapist: I have been seeing a new therapist for four months and last week we went over in time. That day, when she realized it, she was very distressed adn shuffled me out of the office. This past week, she said (when I mentioned my frustration about that day in therapy) that she "had not seen the clock and did not know we were going over (time)." Then at the end of the session, she asked me about paying her for the extra half hour. I said " Why do you think I should?" She said that the last session, she thought we were "really getting somewhere and that I should pay her for the overtime." Now, I have no problem with overtime, but the reason she gives is wrong. What should I do? Is she trustworthy, was I being shaken down? Is this wrong no matter what? HELP!!!!!!!!



Shoudl I cut it off with her because she is too money conscious?


Andy's answer:


Dear Jo,

I believe the therapist is the "timekeeper" for the session, and if she lost track of time and went over, she should not expect you to pay, unless you had made a prior agreement to pay for unannounced overtime. If she had notified you that you were about to go over-time, and was that OK with you, with the clear understanding that you pay for her time, then yes, you pay. But without explicit prior understanding of an agreement to pay for overtime, you're just not responsible for the payment. Your therapist needs not only to eat the "loss" because of her own mistake, but to get off it, clarify for future arrangements, and move on.

This is a great opportunity for you to take care of yourself appropriately by taking a stand you feel ok about. If your refusal to pay, or her insistance that you pay, seem to place a wedge between you, you need to ascertain if she can actually continue to do therapy with you. Talk about it, get a feel for the nature of the relationship, and see if this event has become an unworkable obstacle. It might be an indicator that you and this therapist are not a good match. Or it might be a great opportunity to work out a disagreement in a way that makes your relationship more intimate and therapeutically potent than before.

Stick to common sense, and beware of letting the "authority" of your therapist, or anything, sway you from it.