Psychotherapy is based on a relationship. Without one that is positive and trusting, I can’t help. Work does not get done. Healing does not happen. And in the course of the relationship, some of my patients develop strong feelings for me, even love. I have fondness for most kids and teens because I love children. But some of the kids, especially those I watch grow and change over time, I grow to love in a very powerful way. I imagine that it is similar to what teachers feel for some of their students.

As I have mentioned previously, some of my patients demonstrate this by giving hugs. Less frequently, they bring me gifts, usually something edible. And other times, they invite me to an important event in their lives. It is powerful for a child with social anxiety, for example, to invite me to a school performance in which she has speaking lines. When I receive these invitations, I take them into my heart and treasure them. And then the fretting begins.

If you see me as your psychologist, you can tell everyone, your friends your family, or the postal carrier. It is your private information to share or not share as you see fit. However, it’s not my private information and it’s my job to protect your right to share it or not share it. Sometimes this is not an issue at all. Several years ago, one of my patients had a piece of art on display, along with other students in her high school, at a downtown museum. I was able to go to the museum and no one knew that I was there to see a particular piece of art or why I would want to see it.

If it is a smaller community event, things get harder. I had a patient ask me to go to her school play a few years ago. The school happens to be across from my office and my daughter used to go there. There was a day time and evening showing. I walked over, during the day, and took a seat in the back. My plan was to scoot out before I bumped into anyone I might know. And I had some vague but believable responses prepared to any questions I might be asked by community members.

I watched the show with my legs crossed. Apparently, they were crossed for awhile because when I got up to leave before the rush, my leg wouldn’t support me. So I stood there hanging on to the back of the chair to keep myself upright and waited until my blood started circulating again. But I was feeling self-conscious and wanting to leave so I took another couple of steps away from the chair. I was also wearing my high-heeled pirate boots, which didn’t help. I fell right into the wall and knocked myself on the forehead before falling to the ground.

Unfortunately, after making this spectacle, my leg was still asleep. And now I had attracted the attention of many people. Somebody helped me back to my seat. Then a very nice older couple, looking to be in their early 60’s, started chatting with me. They said, “Whose grandchild is yours?”

Okay, so I should probably let you know that this play occurred during “Grandparents’ Day” at the school. And I have nothing against grandparents or being a grandparent. But people, I was probably about 43 or 44 years old when this happened. Although grand motherhood was possible, it was not likely. Not to mention that I was wearing a pair of kick ass pirate boots that were arguably too young looking for a 40 something year old woman.

I looked over at the couple and noticed that they were wearing stickers that said, “youngest grandparents.” They’d won the sticker for youngest grandparents!!!! If I were going to be a grandparent, I would at least win the “youngest grandparent” prize from a couple that appeared to be at least 20 years my senior!

Although my dignity was destroyed, on the plus side, the confidentiality of my patient was maintained. So although a personally embarrassing event, I had managed not to break any laws.

But not all of these events are so awkward. This morning I attended my first bar mitzvah for a boy I have seen for some time now. It was very important to him that I be there. He asked me to mark the date in my calendar over a year ago. I knew no one there except his parents. (Phew.) He was so happy to see me. It was a beautiful and powerful experience.

I sang, I prayed, I cried, I danced. And when I scooted out before anyone could ask me any probing questions, I was sure-footed and proud of this boy who has come so far in the time I have known him.