Was this ethical of my (ex)therapist?

goosegoose

Learning
Hey all, I hope you're doing well

I was recently terminated by surprised, through email, then ghosted by my now ex therapist. It completely blindsided me but looking back, it was the best thing that could have happened for me. There were a fair amount of red flags.

But the red flag I'm ultra confused about still - when I looked up reviews on google for this therapist before meeting, I noticed nothing but 5 star ratings. I thought to myself "cool! seems good to me" but upon further research/digging (not hard at all, very public) I found out that every single 5 star rating was from this therapists own family. IE: her husband (same last name, works together, he would message me when she was "out sick"), her mom, and a couple of her friends. There are only 5 star reviews from these people and no one else.

Is it normal or even okay for a therapist to have family and friends submit fake good reviews?

She originally told me that she worked under a supervisor but then I found out last night that she owns the entire business. Do therapists who own their own clinic have to report to supervisors still?

All in all, I'm just very confused. I did find a very professional replacement for her and I'm extremely grateful because I think I'll be able to find closure. But there are so many questions that are BUGGING me/don't sit right

Thanks for reading :(
Goose 🦆
 

StillPen

MyPTSD Pro
Is it normal or even okay for a therapist to have family and friends submit fake good reviews?
If they are posing as clients, I would say it was neither normal or okay. I don't think you could go so far as to call it 'fraud', but my next question would be to what extent and energy do you want to use giving it any more thought or taking action? Is it best to walk away from this one knowing you now have a qualified T? Or, do you feel an obligation to let others know that these are fake reviews? You could at the very least add you own review to let others know you were terminated by email w/out a conversation first. Good thing you were stable at the time, that could've gone south for you otherwise. Very, very unprofessional imo, for sure.
 

arfie

MyPTSD Pro
i wouldn't call it okay, but with a world full of reasons which might have caused this hiccough, i would let it slide. maybe leave a non-judgmental review of my own on her website. nothing libelous. just the facts.

meanwhile, having found a more reliable therapist to replace her is a mighty fine bonus for the inconvenience.
 

goosegoose

Learning
If they are posing as clients, I would say it was neither normal or okay. I don't think you could go so far as to call it 'fraud', but my next question would be to what extent and energy do you want to use giving it any more thought or taking action? Is it best to walk away from this one knowing you now have a qualified T? Or, do you feel an obligation to let others know that these are fake reviews? You could at the very least add you own review to let others know you were terminated by email w/out a conversation first. Good thing you were stable at the time, that could've gone south for you otherwise. Very, very unprofessional imo, for sure.
These are all really good questions, I've been bouncing them around in my head since this originally happened. I do know that I'm not comfortable taking action, I don't think our situation warrants outside intervention necessarily. But there's still that nagging feeling that I can't shake about the reviews and about her ghosting me, it definitely makes me uncomfortable now that I've had a few different responses saying similar things.

I feel like yeah it's best to walk away from this knowing I found someone very qualified. It's been a really confusing process for me. Thank you for sharing your thoughts, it's really helpful

Editing for a thought - the reviews don't have anything written in them, it's just the 5 star ratings left and that's it.
 

joeylittle

Administrator
As others have said - it's bad business practice, and in a profession where ethics are meant to inform one's conduct, it's a bad look.

But I'm not sure it would be actionable. It's a free market, and the fact that it's all apparently people connected to the therapist is out there in the open for anyone to see.

Glad you're on to a better (sounds like) therapist.
 

barefoot

Sponsor
@goosegoose I'm so glad you have found another therapist now and that they seem to be a good fit for you so far.

I'd echo what everyone else has said – no, fake reviews or just getting all your family members to give you 5 star online reviews isn't good practise (whatever line of work you're in, but when your job is so much about trust and ethics, perhaps even less so)

I guess you don't know for sure that the ratings are fake – perhaps her friends and family members have had sessions with her (or been 'practised on' during her training) so perhaps they do feel they have experienced her as a therapist and, therefore, believe they have been able to rate her honestly and objectively. While doing therapy with friends/family isn't really considered ethical either, so that in itself would be a potential red flag for me, it's very possible that they haven't just made up five star ratings out of nowhere.

I guess, if you wanted to, you could find out what governing body she is a member of (if she is) and you could lodge a complaint with them. You could include the way she terminated, the ghosting and you feeling you were initially misled by looking at online reviews as you now know all the ratings were given by people in her family (though, as you say, you found it easy to find out who they were when you did a bit of digging, so it's not that she has been particularly hiding it publicly).

If you want to go down the reporting route, I guess things could go on for a while and you may have to provide more evidence and perhaps even speak to someone, so I don't know if that is something you would want to do or not. I know I would find it difficult to let it go if I were in your shoes – I'm sure I would feel very wound up about the whole thing and especially around finding out that she's just got her relatives to give her five start reviews that than having real client testimonials. But I also think I'd find reporting very stressful and draining and I'd probably (force myself to) opt to leave it and focus on my work with my new therapist.

In terms of supervision, it depends on where you are, the rules in your area, the rules of any governing body she is registered with etc. And it may also come down to her choice too. In the UK, where I am, most therapists are registered with/members of British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy and/or the UK Council for Psychotherapy (they're the two big ones - there are also some others) I think that for experienced therapists, the guidance is that it's good practise to have on-going supervision, but I don't think it's a requirement. My therapist is in private practise and she has mentioned supervision before, but I don't know whether she has it on a regular basis or just checks in when she feels she needs it.

I know you probably have things on your agenda to talk to your new therapist about, but I wonder if you've spoken at all with new therapist about ex-therapist? I wonder if doing so would help to get the closure you're after?
 
P

Paula

Hey all, I hope you're doing well

I was recently terminated by surprised, through email, then ghosted by my now ex therapist. It completely blindsided me but looking back, it was the best thing that could have happened for me. There were a fair amount of red flags.

But the red flag I'm ultra confused about still - when I looked up reviews on google for this therapist before meeting, I noticed nothing but 5 star ratings. I thought to myself "cool! seems good to me" but upon further research/digging (not hard at all, very public) I found out that every single 5 star rating was from this therapists own family. IE: her husband (same last name, works together, he would message me when she was "out sick"), her mom, and a couple of her friends. There are only 5 star reviews from these people and no one else.

Is it normal or even okay for a therapist to have family and friends submit fake good reviews?

She originally told me that she worked under a supervisor but then I found out last night that she owns the entire business. Do therapists who own their own clinic have to report to supervisors still?

All in all, I'm just very confused. I did find a very professional replacement for her and I'm extremely grateful because I think I'll be able to find closure. But there are so many questions that are BUGGING me/don't sit right

Thanks for reading :(
Goose 🦆
This therapist in my opinion should be reported to the state board in which her license was granted. I am glad that you found a new therapist to help you on your journey of healing.
 
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