Wednesday, July 12, 2023


 “I wanted to let you know,” Tammy says immediately upon sitting down, “I’m considering changing therapists.”

I’m surprised and try to recall what if anything might have occurred in our last session that would have prompted her possible termination. “Because…?” I ask.

“We just don’t seem to be getting anywhere. It’s over two years. And, yeah, I know, therapy is a process, not a destination.”

“Is this something you’ve been considering for a while?”

“Uhm. No, not really.”

“Can you say what started your thinking along these lines?”

Tammy squirms in the chair. “Uhm, I guess I’d rather not.”

“Why would you rather not?” I ask bemused.

“This is why I want to change therapists! You question everything! You want answers to everything! Why? Why? Why? I’m sick of it.”

“And what would you prefer instead?”

“Somebody who just left me alone and let me live my life!”

“Then why would you want to be in therapy at all?”

“I considered that too. But not being in therapy feels too scary. I don’t trust myself enough to not be in therapy. Who knows what I might do.” 

“I realize that you’d rather not say what started your thinking about changing therapists, but I think it’s important that you do. You know if you decide to change therapists I certainly would support you in whatever way I could. But given what you just said about not trusting yourself, I suspect that means you know you can make impulsive decisions and that despite you’re not liking to be asked why, it is an important question for you.”

Tammy sighs deeply, rolls her eyes, looks at me and smirks. “I ran into Michael, my ex-boyfriend, Michael.”


“What do you think?”

“He wanted to get back together.”

“Right. I told him I was engaged to Philip and he just laughed. Said he couldn’t believe I was still with that nerd. And that he bet I was still in therapy with you too. I told him yeah, I was. He says it figures, that you’d want me to be with a loser, always chasing my own tail.”

“Do you feel I want you to be with a loser?”

“No, not exactly, but you are always pointing out how good Philip is to me, how he cares for me and tries to take care of me.”

“And those are bad things?”

“No, of course not. But they can get kind of boring.”

“Did you have sex with Michael?”

“No, but I was tempted.”

“So it’s Philip or Michael and me or some other therapist?”

“I guess that’s about right.”

“And who’s the other therapist?”

“I don’t know. I haven’t gotten that far.” Pause. “But maybe he would be a man. That would be different; might make it more interesting.”

“Are you saying it might make it more dangerous or more sexual…”

“I’m not sleeping with any therapist!”

“I wasn’t suggesting you were, but wondering if having a male therapist would introduce the possibility of sex into the treatment and that might feel more tantalizing.”

“I chose a female therapist in the first place because I didn’t want that sexual element to be a part of it.”

“And now you think you might?”

“I don’t know. I guess that’s why I said I was considering changing therapists, not that I’d decided.”

“This is a big conflict for you, Tammy: safety and comfort on the one hand, or excitement and danger on the other. It gets played out with Michael and Philip, with me and a male therapist, and also in your work. Should you give up your job as a nurse and see if you could make it as a singer?”

“That’s just a dream, I’m not doing that. Too risky.”

“And are you comfortable, resolved saying that?”

“Makes me a little sad, but yeah. I’m 36, I’m not making it onto the charts. Too many of me out there.”

“So that’s one of the things you’ve come to accept.”

“Yeah, I guess.”

“You know, it actually might have been helpful for you to have seen a male therapist from the start…”

Tammy shakes her head adamantly from side to side.

“No?” I inquire.

“No. Then I really couldn’t have trusted myself and who knows what stupid thing I might have done, maybe even made an ass of myself and tried to seduce the guy.”

“So maybe now the question is do you want a break from the nice, caring me and/or Philip and add a bit of spice to your life in the way of Michael and/or a male therapist.”

“I guess so.” Pause. “I don’t know. I guess I’d like to continue considering it.”

“That sounds like an excellent decision. And we can continue to talk about it as well.”