Why the betrayal?


Why the betrayal?


your avatar   Robert, 52-year-old man

A person I thought was a friend turned against me. We are both internship psychologists who were in the same organisations. I shared my life with this person in text messages outside work hours. I wanted to see if I could learn to balance dual relationships. Some of the texts were good, all non-sexual, and some were stupid ones. She printed all these messages and deleted some of her texts. She gave them all to our manager. I now have a mandatory health assessment after notification from the national board and council.

What should I say or do while being assessed?


    Bob Rich, Ph.D.

Dear Robert,

There are two questions here, not one: How to handle the investigation, and how to relate to this woman.

I assume you have malpractice insurance. If so, immediately report the situation to the insurer (this is a requirement of the policy in any case). They will provide support and advice. The psychology board will have appointed an investigator, and possibly the organisation(s) will investigate too. Send them the full record of texts, pointing out the items she has deleted.

It is not possible to "balance" dual relationships, which is the reason for the injunction against them. At the same time, she was not your client, your supervisor or supervisee. You had a personal relationship, but your defense can be that there was no professional relationship other than fellow students/workers. So, while the content of the messages may have been objectionable (I don't know), your defense could be that in fact there was no dual relationship. Study the act, and the relevant ethical guidelines, to make up your mind about this. If it comes to a hearing, be fully open and transparent. Don't try to excuse yourself, and say you have learned your lesson.

The worst thing the board may do is to require you to have a certain number of sessions with a supervisor they appoint. If this happens, use it as an opportunity to learn from a wise person. Second, neither of us is a mind reader, so we don't know why she did this. The first thing you should do is to forgive her. We all walk our path, and trip on the rocks there, and no one else can know why. Resentment, anger and the like is a hot coal you pick up to throw at someone. But it is your hand that gets burned. It is natural for you to feel hurt. Accept the pain, and do your best to move on.

I suggest you ask for the two of you to have a talk about the situation, in the presence of a person you both respect, like one of the staff members at your university. If she agrees, simply ask her why she did what she did. Don't attack, don't argue. What she says will be her reality, which will be different from yours. Then explain your point of view.

Hope this helps,


This question was answered by Dr. Bob Rich. Dr. Rich has 30+ years of experience as a psychotherapist. Dr. Rich is also a writer and a "mudsmith". Bob is now retired from psychological practice, but still works with people as a counselor.For more information visit: http://anxietyanddepression-help.com


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