I remember my first visit to a therapist and it still makes me smile. He was a small frame of a man who weighed about the same as a 13 year old boy. He greeted me with a warm smile and made me feel at home almost instantly. Our rapport was obvious and while I was still quite apprehensive about the whole idea of therapy, I felt that perhaps this was the man who would solve all of my problems and make me whole again. During that first visit we touched on a few of my issues and he told me how we would proceed from that point forward. I remember turning around as we said our goodbyes after that first visit and noticed that warm smile that seemed to follow me, as I found my way out to the front desk. I felt hopeful.

I saw Roger again the following week and he seemed rather distant compared to my first visit. I immediately thought of the commission salesperson that lures you in with his winning smile and veiled sincerity to close the deal. Roger had made his sale and I was the consumer who was now having buyer's remorse. I decided to attribute his manner to that of a professional ready to get down to business and so it began. Seven months and 28 sessions later, I realized that I was treating him.

Roger was a tortured soul who had fantasies of being Superman as he revealed to me one day, expressing his desire to open his shirt and reveal a giant S underneath. He often alluded to his balding head and his rapid entry into middle age and I would offer him words of encouragement suggesting that he is still young and vital and yes in some ways Superman. We spent little time discussing my problems as he had become the focus of our sessions. Roger did at times appear guilty for these detours in our conversations and he would attempt to steer the focus back to me.

It was an earnest effort and I tried to comply, but I became more concerned about his healing and less about mine. Roger had once mentioned upon my revealing one of my deepest fears, that he too had experienced a traumatic occurrence in his life that he was still recovering from and the focus was once again redirected. Oddly enough, I looked forward to each visit as if visiting a friend who needed my help and I had developed a fondness for this meek man. I would eventually realize that I was becoming dependent upon him not as my savior, but upon myself as his.

The therapist relationship is clearly defined as being one sided and this relationship certainly was. I felt as if I was there to help him and I received nothing in return. I asked myself what did I want from Roger and it became clear I wanted his gratitude, I wanted his appreciation, and alas, I wanted his love. So there it was, the perfect cliché, the patient had fallen for her therapist. It was that moment of realization and resentment that I made the call. I took the cowards way out and left a voicemail for Roger, thanking him and telling him I felt we had gone as far as we could with my therapy. I wished him well and ended our sessions.

I never heard from him again. I had hoped for well wishes or that he would suggest one last session for closure, but heard nothing. I suppose in his mind, I had abandoned him and perhaps I had. I felt alone again and after several months decided to look for a new therapist. I eventually found a prominent psychiatrist in a prime location and looked forward to a fresh start. Dr. Gooding was the epitome of what we assume a psychiatrist will be. He was an older man, distinguished and wise in his appearance and he oozed knowledge and experience. Our first visit went quickly as he took down a brief history of his new patient. I did not experience the same feelings of comfort that I did with Roger and our visit felt very clinical. Dr. Gooding spoke of payment methods and appointment times and seemed to look right through me. I remember feeling empty and alone as I left his office, but I told myself I would give it some time.

On my second visit Dr. Gooding pulled out his laptop and began a chronological work history for his new patient. A family history and relationship history would soon follow. All that was missing was the bright light overhead. It felt much more like an interrogation than a psychiatrist slowly and patiently getting to know his new patient. Dr. Gooding had wanted to meet with me twice a week but I was only able to commit to once a week . I was surprised when he offered to meet with me once a week for 1 ½ hours, instead of the standard 45 minutes once a week. Dr. Gooding would then advise me that this time extension was contingent upon the monetary compensation, that would be paid out per my insurance.

I tried to convince myself that this was a business and of course he would want to make sure he was compensated fairly, but this was not what I wanted to or needed to hear. I found myself missing Roger more and more and comparing the two of them. On the one hand I had an experienced professional willing to devote 6 hrs a month to my healing, but for a price. On the other hand there was the former therapist that I was paying so that I could help him. This was quite a conundrum. I would spend several days deciding whether to continue with Dr. Gooding and I would decide against it.

I was never really a believer in therapy to begin with and had often looked down on those who were as I saw it, so self indulgent as to pursue it. I knew I was someone with real problems and demons that I wanted to exorcise, but I also knew that those I would turn to had their own problems and demons as well. I realized that I had the ability and insight to look at those problems and resolve them, or at least try to on my own. Psychiatry is a business and like any other business there is a price. I finally realized it was a price I was not willing to pay.

Author's Bio: 

I'm a freelance writer who is a former New Yorker now living in New Mexico. I have a legal background and at one time wrote a legal column for a once prominent ISP. I am also in the healthcare field and have written numerous articles related to mental health. My interests include motivational speaking, meditation, photography and the fine arts.