Friday, February 15, 2008

A Vulnerable Position

Most of you are aware by now of the brutal killing of psychotherapist Kathryn Faughey, 56, of New York. More and more details are starting to come out, but for now, the killer remains at large.

This struck home for me because I, too, am a psychotherapist. I have my own private office. I have, for the most part, always felt safe in the three offices I have rented since going into private practice.

I've had a couple of instances where I did feel extremely uncomfortable - such as the time a man took out a pen knife and twirled it around his lengthy moustache as I was gathering information about his family life so that I could write recommendations to Juvenile Court about the placement of his son. Or the time when a man used his arm stub to put it up next to my cheek as he was yelling at me about my sessions with his daughter who was being extremely emotionally abused by him.

One thing that is taught in grad school is to NEVER see a new patient when totally alone in a building. During the initial interview, a skilled therapist can usually assess whether or not a client is violent. Another way to protect oneself is to always sit next to the door - never, ever have allow a client sit closest to the door.
Always, always have an alarm system of some sort in your office, or have some way to alert the authorities when you are in trouble.

From what I've read about Kathryn, she was very well-respected and knowledgeable in her field. I feel a kinship with her because we are close in age and have been in the field for the same amount of time. I even went so far as to think, "there, but for the grace of God, go I. . . "

So, even though I've always been pretty cautious, I suppose I will need to be even more so, because you just never know.

I wonder what will happen to her clients. Will they find another therapist? Certainly, the vulnerable clients will need to see somebody as soon as possible, but they are also the ones who will be the most resistant to a new therapist because of the trust factor.

My heartfelt sympathies and prayers go out to her family and friends and clients. May she rest in peace with the risen Lord.

Please take a moment to listen to the song "Legacy" by Nichole Nordeman, which I have posted above. It says it all.


At 11:00 AM, Blogger ukok said...

Being in England, I was unaware of this terrible tragedy. Kathryn will certainly be in my prayers, may she rest in peace, amen.

And you have my prayers too, my friend.


At 8:43 AM, Blogger Kevin said...

There's one more safety technique, albeit one that might be difficult to reconcile with a calling to heal, or with a truly Christian spirit: having a firearm within reach. Early in my legal career, when I handled family law and criminal matters, I had one in a desk drawer. Nothing communicates the sentiment "Let us reason together" quite like the business end of a Glock.


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