Too dependent on therapist


Too dependent on therapist


your avatar   Kitty, 27-year-old woman

I am originally from another country and was sent to study and live in Singapore at the age of 15. I have since had many episodes of depression, anxiety issues due to bullying at school, isolation and maladaptive way of coping with stress. Fast-forward to the current year. Since graduating from university 4 years ago, I have been adapting better in work/life situations and making slow progress. I have no longer been suicidal though my anxiety/mild depression never left me. However, last year, due to a series of blows - financial dispute during one business transaction, job loss, relational difficulties - for the first time in my life I started to see a psychodynamic therapist. The therapist is a credible one with years of experience and his fee is around the average as far as I know. He is also close to my parents' age. However, because I have not been working full time and have been paying entirely by cash on my own, I really feel I spent a lot on therapy.

During therapy we have touched on some issues including my past trauma, parental abuse, my people-pleasing behaviors, my passive-aggressiveness, my false self-identity and my fear-avoidant attachment style and the transference caused by my attachment style, etc. My therapist was emphasizing last session to let men, including himself, care for me. I feel he is a competent therapist and he is encouraging me to depend on him - which translates to seeing him more often I suppose (I currently see him about 2-3 times a month but have some breaks). I also plan to clarify with him whether it means he wants me to commit on a weekly basis, which is a little hard for me financially (my deepest fear is being exploited). Should I try to keep the therapy to once every 10-14 days as I prefer, and in the meantime, try to engage my friends to share emotional feelings and doing more activities? I have become a recluse recently.

I know I have trust issues. I feel that I am in competent hands. But it scares me to depend on my therapist so much to the point where I will come to rely on him. It is also financially taxing if I continue to see him for more than a year or two. It just means no new shoes, clothes, and holidays. What can I do? What is in my best interest? Thank you in advance for reading and any professional advice is appreciated.


    Bob Rich, Ph.D.

Dear Kitty,

A therapist's job is to make himself unnecessary. From the first session, my aim is to make my client independent. Therapy is not meant to "fix" you, but to give you the inner strength, independence and skills to fix yourself. You are not there to help this man to earn a good income, but for him to give you the tools to get better and move on.

If you were to come to me as a client, it is possible that after one year we might still have sessions. However, this is quite infrequent. Most of my clients might start with a session a week, then perhaps stop after 2 or 3 months (at the most). Some might come back a year later, because they need revision, or, having gotten stronger, are now able to deal with the next level of issues.

Not knowing the details of your history, only the generalities you reported, I can't tell if this man has done the right thing for you. But I suggest you have a holiday from him, and try out someone else. Shop around a little. Look on therapy as school. By now, you should have learned everything you need to put your life on a better path. If not, you need a new teacher.

Clearly you are intelligent. Read for yourself, and be your own therapist. Think about the issues, and know that you have the strength to deal with them. No other person can fix you. They can only show you the way for you to fix yourself.

You can do it.


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:


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