DEAR ABBY: I have a close friend, "Ethel," about whom I'm very worried. She sees a therapist, "Amy," once a week for depression and suicidal thoughts, and while I think it's a wonderful idea, I'm concerned because she has become "friends" with her therapist.
This has gone as far as gift-giving, attending the therapist's wedding, etc. I always thought it was a breach of professional boundaries for a therapist to become friends with his or her patient.
I am the one who gets the 4 a.m. phone calls when Ethel is feeling like the world is ending for her. She says my son and I are the only reason she doesn't do something to herself. When I ask Ethel why she doesn't discuss this with Amy, or call her at 4 a.m., Ethel says she doesn't want to burden her with her problems. She also refers to her appointments as "visiting" with Amy and says that they have lovely talks about Amy's family, etc.
I'm a single mother with a full-time job, taking classes at the university for my MBA. I try to make as much time as I can for Ethel, but I'm worn out and worried about those 4 a.m. phone calls. After seeing this therapist for five years, wouldn't you think Ethel would at least be a little bit better? If anything, I think she's worse.
I have suggested that Ethel find another therapist, but all she says is that Amy is her friend. What else can I do? -- SARA IN SALEM, ORE.
DEAR SARA: It's apparent that Amy is no longer acting in the role of therapist. And because she has become a friend, Ethel doesn't want to impose upon her with her problems.
The next time Ethel calls you at 4 a.m., tell her that she is calling the wrong person. The things she is telling you are the very things that her therapist needs to know about in order to help her. If Ethel refuses, then tell her that what she needs is a therapist with a fresh approach. If Amy is truly her friend, Amy will understand that and give her a referral while maintaining their personal relationship.
DEAR ABBY: My 4-year-old grandson, "Teddy," is the apple of my eye.
I recently learned that my son-in-law has been taking Teddy hunting for deer and sees no harm in it. At his age, my grandson should be at a petting zoo admiring God's creatures instead of viewing the killing of them.
I have a policy of not interfering with my children in their marriages or how they raise their children. However, if needed, I am always available for advice if asked. Although I have shared my opinion that Teddy is too young, it has fallen on deaf ears.
At age 4, my grandson is too immature to understand the killing. I don't believe that this exposure is good for his psychological development at his tender age. How do I approach my son-in-law about this, and at what age do you think it is appropriate to allow the boy to go hunting? -- CONCERNED GRANDPA IN GREENVILLE, S.C.
DEAR GRANDPA: It would be interesting to know how your daughter feels about her son going hunting with his dad. While I am not a fan of killing for sport, many people are avid hunters who consume the birds and animals they shoot.
While going on those expeditions at age 4 seems quite young, if your grandson isn't traumatized by the sight of the blood-and-gutting and enjoys the "bonding sessions" with his dad, and his mother has no objection, then I guess he'd old enough to go along -- providing he doesn't get in the way and endanger himself.
What teens need to know about sex, drugs, AIDS and getting along with peers and parents is in "What Every Teen Should Know." To order, send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $6 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby -- Teen Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included in the price.)
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