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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    Why do I feel so uncomfortable meeting my psychologist on the street?

    Quote from a movie, so it must be common: “I don't want to see a psychologist. You see them once and then you spend the rest of your life hoping that you don't meet them on the street.”
    Discuss - why and what to do about it.
    Seriously, if it wasn't so serious it would be funny.
  • Find a professional to answer your question

  • Anonymous

    It is funny.

    A psychologist hears so many stories that there is a good chance that he/she would not remember them seeing a person out of context on the street. It is all in our heads. 

  • Anonymous

    Sorry, I think that response is totally incorrect- perhaps designed to make someone feel better, but untrue. Sort of like the response that my mother gave me when I confided to her that I was scared that I would have an erection in the tram. She responded that nobody would notice……and yes….It's all in our heads!

  • My research interests include immunology and the mechanisms of amyloid formation. The latter has implications for people who are dealing with Alzheimer's Disease, Parkinson's Disease … View Profile

    Perhaps the next time you see your psychologist professionally you should discuss this with him/her.

    It might help if you reflected on your relationship with him/her. In my case my psychologist is not a friend nor a social acquaintance. She is a professional with whom I have confidential interactions with when we are working together in a therapeutic context.

    So, on the rare times we run into each other on the street we will smile in greeting but that is it. I am comfortable with that. 

  • Anonymous

    I'm thinking hard about this one. The theraputic relationship is such a very difficult thing to get my head around. It's such a one sided thing- I've worked with her for approx 12 months on and off- mainly off at the moment, and I don't really know any more about her personal life  than I did after the first session, as it should be.  Oh I have had an occasional personal anecdote thrown at me to illustrate a point but that is all- and yet she knows so much about me intimately and personally- from before I started working with her and since- and the changes in me, often as a result of our work. So, whether I want it or not, there is an overlap, isn't there of the theraputic and personal, relationship. I feel very comfortable with that within the confines of her office. Perhaps it's a matter of feeling uncomfortable with the ‘I know what she knows’ situation on the street.
    And I had previously made up my mind that a cheerful wave or a smile is all that is needed. Maybe one day I'll be comfortable with that.  

  • 1


    My research interests include immunology and the mechanisms of amyloid formation. The latter has implications for people who are dealing with Alzheimer's Disease, Parkinson's Disease … View Profile

    I agree that it is a hard thing.

    It might help if you Googled “transference” (when a client becomes emotionally entangled with his/her psychologist) and “countertransference” (when a psychologist becomes emotionally entangled with his/her clients). Neither is generally thought to be therapeutically helpful.

    An imperfect analogy which might help: when I am doing my day job and a student rocks up to my office, wanting my help about something, I am empathetic and totally focused on his/her needs. When s/he walks out of my office I forget about him/her, (maybe making a note about what we discussed) and move on to my next task.

    I suspect that is what good MH professionals do - combining empathy with professional skills and detachment.

  • Anonymous

    Thank you for that response- definitely something to consider. And yes, to talk about with her.
    Hey, and thank you too for all your other sensible and considered responses to so many other posts on this site.

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