Confidentiality

“I visit your page to read your posts about the importance and kindness of accepting and experiencing one’s feelings. I find them helpful and beautifully written.

But as a patient, it makes me uncomfortable to read the detailed questions that therapists ask you. The first paragraph of your most recent post, ‘she attacks me as a therapist!’ hit so close to home for me that my heart skipped a beat. I sank into my chair, mortified at the thought that the interaction between me and my therapist, which happened within the boundaries and confidentiality of our therapeutic relationship, made its way onto a public forum. Reading on, I realized — fortunately — that the other details did not describe any of the sessions I had with my therapist.

I can’t convey to you how damaging it would have been to our alliance had this post fully matched the details of my interaction with her. I would have been devastated, at a time when I am already struggling.

I admire your efforts in educating others. But anyone can see your posts, including the patients that therapists ask you about. By making your posts public, there is a risk of damaging the patients you ultimately want to help.”

Thank you for raising this important issue. Precisely for the reasons you outlined above, I delete any personal details that could identify the patient or therapist. And sometimes I add different details to ensure confidentiality.

In these posts, I do not describe particular patients but universal patterns of suffering which are not unique to any one person. And after reading a number of these posts, every one of us will find ourselves in them. We are not alone. Others suffer in the same way we have suffered. Our personal struggles are universal. When we read a history like ours, it can be a sign to us that we are not alone. We have secret brothers and sisters scattered across the globe. Their cries are our cries. Their struggles are our struggles.

I offer these posts with details removed to reach out to the secret brotherhood and sisterhood of sufferers. And to convey the message that our suffering makes sense. It can be understood. It is universal.

When these posts “hit home” it is not because the post was specifically about you. It’s because the truth of someone else’s life was able to touch you and your inner “home.” The truth of suffering is common to us all. On these pages, we do not just read about “others” or “patients”. We read about ourselves.

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