Patients’ experiences of being “ghosted” by their psychotherapists.

Psychotherapy, Vol 59(4), Dec 2022, 545-553; doi:10.1037/pst0000454

Psychotherapist ghosting is a type of inappropriate, therapist-initiated termination of treatment in which the therapist ceases communication with their patient without prior notice. A total of 77 patients (M age = 34) who reported being ghosted by their therapist completed a web-based therapist ghosting survey (TGS) that assessed their perceptions of multiple aspects of this event. Results indicated that these patients, on average, unsuccessfully attempted to contact their therapist four times following being ghosted but that the great majority never again communicated with this therapist; they attributed being ghosted to several possibilities, including their therapist’s finding them too difficult, their therapist’s own problems, and/or a major event in their therapist’s personal life. They experienced shock, frustration, anxiety, resentment, and sadness as a result of this action, emotions that tended to dissipate over time. Given its emotional toll on patients and the ethical violation inherent in the act of ghosting, further research on the prevalence, consequences, and therapists’ motives for this behavior seems imperative. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2022 APA, all rights reserved)

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