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A few months ago, I spent some time researching my therapist and found out where she lived. I immediately regretted my curiousity and have been terrified to tell my therapist this. Is this grounds for her to dismiss me?

We live in an age where a lot of biographical content about our lives is floating around and others can find it. It’s an unavoidable reality. There are new terms that have not even been invented yet to help us cope with this reality. There are new boundaries we don’t even know how to navigate yet. Until those terms and boundaries come into focus, the best we can do is to try not to drag old models forward into this new territory without testing them. So test them.

Here is a task that might help balance your feelings. Google yourself. Go deep. Page ten. Page twenty. See what you can find. See what addresses show up, which people connected to you, how much that reveals about your interests, tastes, life, and so on. There is a shocking amount of information out there about most of us. If you block your content but aren’t thorough it will take a curious person with advanced search skills (most pp under 70) mere minutes to get around it. If you don’t like what you find about yourself on the ‘net, it is actually on you to make sure it is private or buried. Same goes for anyone else. Including your therapist.

This is all a bit less about having the information than what you do with it. Protect yourself and your boundaries, first. Try not to cross the safe zone with others. Keep that boundary close. I’m not saying it’s appropriate to dig up as much as you can about your therapist if it’s cool with you that others know stuff about you. It isn’t. This might be normalized behavior in contemporary life, but it can be harmful in a therapeutic relationship. The more you know about your therapist, the more you may curb your answers. You might be prone to manipulation. You might bring less of your garbage into the room. You may want to win their favor and impress them. You may discover they have beliefs or tastes that repel you. None of that will help you.

Yet conversely, digging around may draw you closer to your therapist. You may find them more relatable. Since it is the relationship itself that heals, what you’ve learned on the internet may strengthen your bond. I suspect this is less likely than the scenarios I sketched in the previous paragraph.

Relationships with therapists are built in the same world where other relationships are built. One of the reasons many of us are in therapy is to learn about or enhance our awareness about boundaries. That’s why it’s recommended to allow the relationship to develop in the room, and not outside of it. Let it grow in a context. We all bring our crappy relationship habits to therapy and project them on our therapists anyhow. That is a good thing. It’s a safe space to figure it out.

If your therapist wants to dump you over this, they aren’t living in the contemporary, internet age. They aren’t savvy. They don’t know how to work with the content. They might not be worth investing in long term. Sorry to break the news.

One thing is for sure: you shouldn’t regret it. It’s just life these days. Your response is appropriate. Keep it Fonzy. Also, don’t entertain a habit of cyberstalking your therapist. Or anyone for that matter. It might satisfy your curiosity, but it doesn’t create a safe, organic ground for a reciprocal relationship to grow. And that’s one of the goals, right?

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