At an intimate cocktail reception on the evening following my third session with Dr. H, I mentioned to a group of three gay male acquaintances that I was seeing a new therapist. One of my friends expressed his condolences that I had was no longer with Dr. G, one of the most sought-after therapists in the city, and another inquired who I was seeing now.
“Dr. H,” I answered, and immediately raised my left eyebrow archly as my three acquaintances began chuckling knowingly and exchanging quick glances. “What?” I asked, “What do you know about Dr. H that I do not know?”
“Only that he is the biggest rice queen in the city,” one of the men scoffed. “And that he is always throwing cocktail parties in order to lure young Asian guys to his lair,” another man added, before mockingly correcting himself, “I mean…his practice.”
“Stop,” I said, clearly scandalized.
“Here,” one of my friends said, handing me his iPhone. “Look through the images I got at one of his ‘receptions’ last evening. I nearly didn’t make it out of his pool fully clothed.”
Mouth agape, I flipped through the images of a cocktail pool party, featuring a bevy of young, very scantily attired Asian men, and of my therapist, Dr. H, who appeared to adore hearing my detailed stories of sexual encounters with my gay Asian male ex-lovers, with his arms wrapped lewdly around…well, one of my gay Asian male ex-lovers.
Shocked and awed Baghdad style, I managed to close my mouth, return the iPhone to my friend, and say, “Well, that is simply…lovely,” before excusing myself graciously for an emergency coffee session with my friend A.V.
THE PICTURE OF DR. H
Because, you understand, it was not lovely. “Is that not unethical?” I screamed to my friend across the cafe table, furiously chain smoking Marlboros. “Does that not go against his Hippocratic Oath, or something? What about Full Disclosure? Are Cognitive-Behavioral therapists just sort of exempt from these professional customs?”
“Oh, my,” A.V. said, before suggesting, “well, perhaps Dr. H did not make the connection between your ex-lover and his…apparent new lover?”
I rolled my eyes. “How many people in this city have that rather specific first Japanese name? One!”
I spilled my coffee by banging my hand on the table between us for emphasis.
“Oh, my!” my friend said again. “Well, obviously, you need to address this in your next session. The patient/therapist trust has been broken; you will have to see if it can be mended in any way.”
“Mended?!” I shrieked, before slipping characteristically into emotional French. “Absolutement non!”
The next day I sat stoically across the table and crystal chess set from Dr. H and spoke only half-jokingly of something I had discovered at a cocktail party that made me embark on a drinking binge so acute that I feared I needed to explore options for treatment of alcoholism.
Dr. H literally exploded in jubilance. “Oh!” he exclaimed, rising and walking around his desk to retrieve something from one of its drawers.
“I just noticed yesterday there is a very comprehensive list of treatment options on the facing page of my advertisement in the magazine in which I advertise!”
He flipped through the pages of what I assumed was a glossy city society publication, propped the page open to the list, and handed it to me across the table, above the crystal chess set. I took the magazine, scanned the list quickly, then, remembering what he had said about his advertisement, flipped the publication over to the facing page. Stacked between two display advertisements featuring a muscular shirtless chest (in one) and a naked bubble butt (in the other), was an advertisement announcing Dr. H’s practice.
With a special notice, set in bevelled, drop-shadowed, rainbow-hued Times New Roman, that Dr. H “specialized in gay and lesbian relationship issues,” my therapist smiled out at me from the square advertisement, heavily, poorly photo shopped to look years younger, and with far more hair than he currently boasted, forever, freakishly, 25 years old.
I looked up at Dr. H, looked back at the magazine, flipped to its cover, saw which kind of magazine it was, and chuckled, shaking my head sideways.
I looked back up at Dr. H. “I apologize,” I said softly, attempting to keep from laughing. “This will be our last session.”
“Is something wrong?” Dr. H inquired, clearly distressed.
“No,” I assured him, setting the magazine down on the chess table, knocking over the Black Queen in the process.
“My life is surreal enough,” I said, by way of explanation, “without hearing on the gay social grapevine that my therapist is engaging in dalliances with my ex-lovers. You can mail me an invoice for this final session.”
With that, I left Dr. H’s office for the final time. I suppose I could cite as my reasons for ceasing my therapy sessions with Dr. H his obvious professional impropriety, his lack of full disclosure, and his vaguely unethical therapeutic practices. (The primary moral of this cautionary tale being, of course: know your therapist well…before you kiss and tell.) But it’s just far more comical to blame his poorly Photoshopped advertisement.