Going to the psychologist is a process that certainly offers us many benefits. It allows us to learn a little more about ourselves, what problems we may experience in our lives and how to solve them.
In most cases, the therapist will listen carefully to our experiences, what we are feeling, what we believe is the source of our problems. He will try to give us a solution, accepting them as patients. Or not.
Sometimes it happens that the psychologist chooses to reject the patient. Patients who have been through this think, “Why doesn’t my psychologist want to see me?”. Today we will answer this question.
“My psychologist refuses to treat me”
As strange as it may sound, a psychologist can reject a person attending the consultation. Not all therapists will treat everyone who wants their services. There can be a variety of factors in which the therapist decides it is best not to practice psychotherapy and, in most cases, they have to do with aspects of professional ethics.
What we need to understand is that every psychologist wants what is best for the patient. The principle of charity is one of the ethical values that govern the professional practice of the psychologist.. This is why, in the event that the therapist finds himself unable to satisfy her, far from applying a therapy which he does not know if it will be successful, he chooses to refer. In these cases, the phrase is common: “I’m sorry, I cannot be your therapist. Here I am giving you a contact list of other professionals whom I trust and who can help you.”
Among the main aspects for which a psychologist refuses to give treatment to those who go to his consultation, or decide to end a therapy initiated, we have the risk of forming dual relationships, Not being able to handle the psychological problem of the patient or having some kind of possible conflict with the patient. Good psychologists are those who know when they cannot take care of their patients and choose to refer them to other therapists who know they can.
Below we will look at the top 5 reasons why a psychologist may refer the patient to another professional, or just dismiss them.
1. It does not specialize in the patient’s disorder or problem.
Psychologists specializing in the clinical field must be trained in clinical psychology in order to be able to do psychotherapy, at least in Spain. However, despite specific training to treat patients, they are not always prepared for all kinds of psychological problems.
There are cases when the complexity of the patient’s disorder prevents the professional from performing their work properly. As we have mentioned, the psychologist will be governed by the principle of charity and, if he finds that he cannot comply with it, he will choose to refer the patient to another professional more qualified for his specific case. .
This is clearly visible in cases where the patient has a personality disorder, eating disorder, autism, some sexual dysfunction, or post-traumatic stress disorder. It is disorders that require very specific and intensive training, Which is difficult for a general clinical psychologist to have.
2. Has a previous relationship with the patient
Psychologists often hear in our immediate surroundings, such as with friends or family gatherings, phrases like “Now that you are a psychologist, why not treat Fulanita? She needs help and how is your cousin you can do it? free.”
For starters, we will not be working for free. We haven’t studied for four years or more to do psychotherapy without receiving anything in return. And second, there is the main reason we cannot intervene: it is unethical.
Dealing with a friend, family member, or person with whom we have some sort of personal or financial relationship, beyond theIt was not a good idea. We will not be able to carry out the therapy in the most neutral way possible, moreover our feelings and the previous data that we have about the “patient” will prevent us from being able to carry out the process in such a way. objective.
For example, imagine we are giving therapy to our best friend. To begin with, we have a strong relationship with him, so we will have a prejudice on everything he has done, relativizing or considering “less bad”. He may also be confessing to us something that we don’t like, which causes him to change our relationship with him, which negatively affects both of us.
Like our friend, we run the risk that, far from giving him the most appropriate treatment, we think about our relationship. and only in this. This can mean that we are intervening without respecting the principle of charity, and we are clearly not acting for the good of our friend.
It is for this reason that any patient who presents for the consultation must have known him at the time, without any previous relationship of any kind beyond that of a former patient in this case.
3. You see a family member, friend or person close to the patient.
Unless the psychologist specializes in couples therapy, family therapy or child psychology, ideal for any therapist is not to treat patients who have a close relationship with each other.
We will try to explain this in more depth. Suppose we are dealing with a man named Menganito. Menganito comes because he feels betrayed by his friend Paquito, a person we don’t know. He starts telling us about how Paquito hurt him, tells us what he thinks about him, and finally confesses to us a lot of personal aspects of his relationship with this friend.
One day, Paquito comes to us, who also wishes to receive psychotherapy. He discovered us in another way, not because Menganito recommended him. Now we’re in the situation where we know things about Paquito without him telling us himself but his friend Menganito. In turn, we may know things that Menganito told us Paquito should know if we want to wish him the best, but we would reveal secrets.
This particular case the psychologist faces a very difficult situation. He has two patients who are closely related to each other, and anything he does can affect one positively and the other negatively. Perhaps by recommending to Menganito to move away from Paquito we do this second to him, reason why we would not respect the principle of charity. Also, we can tell Paquito that the things Menganito said affect him, violating the principle of confidentiality.
4. Certain characteristics of the patient prevent the therapist from working professionally
Psychologists are also human beings: they have feelings, thoughts and emotions. They may not be able to take care of a patient in any way because they know a personality trait of him or a fact from his past that it comes into direct conflict with its system of values and beliefs. This prevents him from practicing psychotherapy with this patient in the most professional manner possible.
For example, if the therapist is Jewish and receives a patient with a history of belonging to neo-Nazi groups, no matter how much he no longer relates to those people, the psychologist will not feel comfortable working with him. this patient. It is clear that in consultation you will not be able to avoid having prejudices and feeling fear in the presence of the patient. It could even be that, unconsciously, he applied therapy that harmed the patient as “revenge.”
5. He has worked with this patient before and considers that there is nothing more to do
There are people who will have to go to the psychologist all their life, others will only need a few years, and the luckier ones will only need a few months. Each case is unique and may require varying amounts of healing time, depending on your psychological issue and your ability to move forward.
In the most positive cases, it happens that the patient has managed to overcome all the problems for which he went for consultation, which makes it necessary to continue therapy. It is clear that the professional would pay more attention to continuing the treatment, still billing the patient, but it would not be ethical to extend therapy more than necessary. For this reason, at the end, the patient and the psychologist say goodbye.
What can happen repeatedly is that the patient, although he has fixed everything he has to deal with, needs his psychologist. It’s like an addiction: feeling obligated to see it. The psychologist can see that the patient, when he returns to the consultation, does not do so because he has new problems to treat, but because he misses going to therapy. As professionals, therapists should be able to see this situation and make it clear to the patient that they do not need further treatmentThat everything that needed to be corrected is already corrected.
- American Psychological Association (1981). Ethical principles of psychologists. American Psychologist, 36 (6), 633-638.
- American Psychological Association (1985). Rules and procedures. American psychologist, 40 (6), 685-694.
- Fierro, A. (2000). About happy life. Malaga: Aljub.
- Hare-Mustin RT and Hall, JE (1981). Procedures for responding to ethical complaints against psychologists. American psychologist, 36 (12), 1494-1505.
- Martín Serrano, M. (1977). Professionals of capitalist society. Madrid: Pablo of the river.