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Help! I Feel Like I’m My Therapist’s Therapist

Dear Bintel Brief:

I’ve been seeing my physical therapist for a while now and we’ve grown pretty close. She recently separated from her husband and now, during my appointment, all she talks about are her marital problems and whom she’s dating. Sometimes she’ll get teary eyed while she’s treating me, which makes me feel uncomfortable. She’s very skilled, but now my physical therapy appointments feel more like counseling sessions for her. Should I tell her and, if so, how? Or would it be best to just find someone new?

IN TREATMENT

Mayim Bialik responds:

Dear In Treatment:

This is a touchy issue, no pun intended.

I’m going to make this very simple. There are two kinds of people in the world: those who can take a hint and those who can’t. Let’s see which kind your physical therapist is.

At your next appointment, start off the session by gently saying that you are feeling like you need a quiet session. I do not advocate lying in general, but you can offer that it’s been a rough day, rough week — whatever. Keep it short and sweet. This is not unusual during massage; I don’t know why it would be different for physical therapy.

If she picks up on your hint, you can continue the relationship. However, I have a hunch that she enjoys chatting with you as a method of discourse — and as your mother probably would say: who wouldn’t!? — so this probably will not do the trick. If it doesn’t pick up on the hint, you will need to look elsewhere for physical therapy or tell her you expect a fee reduction since you are providing her free psychotherapy!

I think this is one case where mixing your physical therapy business with her chatty pleasure is not going to work anymore.

Feel better!


Mayim Bialik, who starred in 1990s sitcom “Blossom,” is an actress and a neuroscientist.


If you have a question for the Bintel Brief, email [email protected]. Selected letters will be published anonymously. New installments of the Bintel Brief, featuring Mayim Bialik, will be published Mondays in September at www.forward.com.

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