Worlds Collide

On an evening this past week, I brought the kids to out to watch Carol participate in her rec league sport. I don’t do this very often, only if she has an early game. She plays on a team with Doreen. Their mother, my mother-in-law, plays on another team. They happened to be playing against each other on this occasion.

Carol plays her sport in a small town outside the city where we live, which is the home of the Dickheadson’s and one of their businesses. This is an unfortunate coincidence as Carol’s mom has been playing in this league long before The Dickheadson’s entered our lives and Carol herself had been involved since shortly before them as well.

So, who would I expect to run into at Carol’s games? People connected that family and their businesses, of course, but that never happens, outside of the few ladies on Carol’s team who have worked with her in the past. Phil and Janice have stopped by to say “hi” on one occasion several years ago, and Jennifer played on Carol’s team last year, and strangely remained on the team with her for a while after the Incident. I’ve never seen him there, ever before, though I’ve been hoping he’d dare to show his face some day, but no, there’s been no sign of any of those people as usual.

However, there was someone on Carol’s mom’s team who I didn’t notice at all at first until I caught a glimpse of her at just the right angle to get m brain looking for a connection. I knew this woman, but I didn’t know where from. I sat and looked and thought for a while before I had a moment to talk to Carol.

“Who is that woman on your mom’s team? I know her from somewhere,” I said.

“I don’t know her name. She’s only been here a couple of weeks. Maybe she’s a client from your work,” Carol suggested.

“Hmmm, I’m not sure,” I replied.

“I’ll ask my mom who she is.”

“No, don’t you dare! I don’t want to draw any attention to it, I don’t know who she could be!”

I tried to get a better look at the woman over the next while. I knew it was someone I normally see in a more professional setting and because of that, the sports gear was throwing me off. Finally, I had an idea of who it could be but I was still very unsure because it didn’t make sense to me why she’d be here of all places. The next time Carol was out of the game, I went to her again.

“I think I may know who it is, but it doesn’t make sense. She lives at the other end of the city. But if she is who I think she is, you ought to meet her!” I said. It hadn’t yet occurred to me that this could be a bad idea. I mean, we were all there, what else could I do but introduce her to my family?

“Who do you think it is?” Carol asked.

“Well, if I didn’t know any better, I’d swear it was (unique name).”

“There is a person by that name on mom’s team.”

“Then it must be her, not too many people have that name,” I replied.

When the woman had a break from the game, I went over to her. She was looking the other way so I had to get her attention.

“HT?” I asked.

“Yes?” She said as she turned around. Her eyes widened. “Jack! Hey, how are doing?”

“I’m pretty good. I’m here watching my wife play. You’re on my mother-in-law’s team.”

“Wow, small world!”

“My kids are here too. I’ll have to introduce you to the family,” I said.

“Do you think that’s a good idea, having Carol know who I am?” HT asked.

“Uh, too late,” I said as the potential conflict of these worlds colliding dawned on me. I began to feel stupid.

At the end of the game, I introduced HT to my family. Carol introduced herself, “Hi, I’m Carol. You already know all about me.”

I’ve mentioned before how Carol and I joke that, regarding our respective sports, we must come home a winner it don’t come home at all. Well, as I left I told Carol I’d see her at home before correcting myself, “Wait, you lost this game, you better win the next one or you’re not coming home.”

HT overheard this and Carol explained, “I can’t come home if I don’t win.” Obviously, it was a joke, but HT quietly told me after Carol left that, “we’re going to have to have a talk about that.” So, I guess now I’m going to have my live outside of therapy scrutinized through her therapist’s lens? Not cool. Not cool at all.

Later, as I thought about the potential issues from this colliding of worlds, I began to wonder if I can even feel comfortable talking to HT about my relationship with Carol, knowing now that she sees her and her mother weekly. I think it’s possible for someone to keep the therapy and interactions outside of therapy separate, but after her comment to me, I’m not so sure. I saw her just last week and although the conversation doesn’t focus as much on Carol anymore, I’ve still said things that I would not want repeated to Carol about my doubts and anger, and my often purposeful keeping distance from her.

I’m keeping a record of what I’ve said to HT outside of therapy. If she brings up anything that I said only while in therapy, there’s going to be heaps of trouble.

I don’t like this. This is why I don’t like to open up with other people and share my deep thoughts. Look what happens. Of all the places I end up seeing my therapist at…

Carol told me that if she saw her counsellor outside of counselling, she’d probably ignore her and pretend she doesn’t know her. In my situation, I don’t think this was possible. Before I knew who it was, I already said something to Carol. And the fact that HT has such a unique name that was no secret to Carol before, it was only a matter of time before she figured it out, and I can’t pretend someone I know doesn’t exist.

What a situation. It’s like a typical tv show plot line.

I’ll end with a question. Would you continue to see a counsellor or therapist if they began to see you and your family outside of therapy?

7 thoughts on “Worlds Collide

  1. To answer your question, yes. I would not see a therapist I didn’t trust to maintain my confidentiality, so seeing them out in public would not be an issue. If you really think she’s going to put her license at risk to share your confidences, then maybe she’s just not the right fit for a therapist for you?

    Most of the therapists I’ve come into contact with have a section of their intake paperwork (usually in the office policy stuff) that specifically lays out what they’ll do if you come across one another in public. The boilerplate usually says that they’ll ignore you unless you approach or initiate communication with them. I’m guessing that even if HT recognized you she would have not approached you or taken offense to you ignoring her. Similarly, if you never spoke to her in public again that would likely be fine too.

    I’m very glad for you that DHS was nowhere to be seen. Whew!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Considering I don’t trust anyone with confidentiality, no therapist is the right fit for me. I can only work with what I got and I’m a person that feels no trust with anyone but I have to start somewhere.

      None of the therapists I’ve seen had anything written about public encounters that I can remember. It’s never even crossed my mind until it happened. I’m really not sure what I’m going to do at this point.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Both my husband’s therapists and my son’s therapist (3 totally different practice groups) have used this exact same spiel in their paperwork, so I’m guessing it comes from the APA and applies to your therapist as well in some regard:
        “The Nature of Our Relationship
        As a licensed psychologist, I follow the ethical standards of the American Psychological Association (APA) and state statutes. With your best interest in mind, these ethical standards and laws put limits on the relationship between a therapist and client, and I am committed to abiding by them. These limits include:
        Our relationship is a professional relationship. To interact in any other way would create potential conflicts of interest and threats to an objective approach to our work together. Consequently, we will not:
        oBe friends or have a social relationship outside of therapy;
        oHave any other kind of business relationship outside of therapy;
        oGive or accept gifts of monetary value to one another for any reason, including holidays and birthdays;
        oAttend each other’s private or family functions;
        oHave any kind of romantic or sexual relationship.
        Because of the limits to our relationship and many clients’ desire to maintain full confidentiality, if we happen to see each other in a public place, I will not speak to you unless we agree upon a different arrangement through our work together. Additionally, when our work is complete, we will not be able to be friends to each other like our other friends are to us.”

        Liked by 1 person

  2. When I first rad this my immediate response was ‘no’. But having read Blackacre’s advice now I am not so sure. I suppose it depends on how comfortable you are with her, but also how much she will see when you attend these types of functions which may then cross boundaries: like the ‘not coming home scenario’. Only you can decide based on how you feel.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The season is quite literally weeks from being over until next summer and then it’s a matter of whether HT signs up again next year, so she’ll see Carol again maybe 4 or 5 more times at her rec league and me, maybe only once or twice. With that in mind, I think it may be manageable, but I really do have to have a talk with HT about it and what her policies are.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. idk – good question… prolly not…. My mom had a gynecologist that she had seen since she was a youngen, then her sister began to date him – talk about weird right. ( think about it- eek) My mom instantly changed gynos lol – just had to share for shits-n-giggles 🙂 hehe good luck with all that

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I would not work with any therapist with whom I do not trust, period. That said, I have done boat loads of therapy with many therapists in my lifetime. The gold standard I have been taught with regard to boundaries outside of the office is that the therapist can wave or make a quick hello in public as an acknowledgement if it is initiated by the client. My understanding is that it is to be brief.

    I wouldn’t just end the therapeutic relationship without processing it first per se. You may want to develop rules of negotiation for these public arenas going forward for it may be able to be resolved.

    However, if it is purely a matter of trust, and you have a bad feeling about this particular therapist, then you have already arrived at your answer.

    Hope this helps.

    Liked by 1 person

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