Call me Doctor

I am shopping for a therapist and came across someone who might be a good fit based on their background and knowledge. I wrote to her and asked if she is taking new patients, using her first name off the website. She wrote back offering me a 10 minute consult to “see if we are a good fit.” She signed her name - Dr. _____. I had a reaction to this. I felt like she was correcting me - call me doctor. I also was reminded of all of the bad power dynamics I’ve experienced with the mental health system in my past, including this top-down - I’m the expert, you are the patient approach. In the past, that hasn’t worked for me. I love Rick’s coaching and Thriving Now and this community we-space because it feels like co-creating. It reminds me of my power and we get to co-exist as equals, sharing, supporting. I am scared about entering into a therapeutic relationship with someone who insists on being called doctor. Makes me want to say - call me Attorney. LOL. Maybe I am over-reacting and should give her a shot. She might be great to work with. Would love any thoughts, feedback, or support from you all. Thanks!

Dru (aka, Dru)


I completely understand your reaction! And, I don’t think you’re over-reacting! I would maybe take the 10 minute (complementary?) consult just to have proof/disproof of your reaction but continue to search for someone that truly fits with you. Good luck, Attorney Dru!


Hi Dru!

That would bug me a bit as well. If I could actually raise one eyebrow, I would. :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye: I think if it were me I’d still talk to her and see how I feel after that.

It could be she’s responding that way (aka being triggered) because often times women are called by their first names when a man would be called by his title.

Just a thought and in no way making excuses for her or meant to delegitimize or minimize your experience.

Keep us posted?



Dru (aka, Dru)… :grin:

What you noticed in her response is something I would notice as well. I call my MD by her first name and she has never objected nor given any non-verbal sign that she objects. I call her by her first name when I book an appt. with her staff and it’s never a problem. That, for me, is so important. I want a doctor who first and foremost sees themselves as having a co-creating relationship with me…a partnership…and I am fortunate that my doctor is online with that.

There is a lot of ‘built in’ power dynamics in these relationships.

  1. We seek them out…not the reverse. That has implications of status.
  2. We go to where they work…not the reverse. Again, that has a lot of status declaration to it.
  3. We arrive with a problem that we haven’t been able to solve in the trust/hope that they have the ‘sacred knowledge’ to solve our problem. This has the structure of ‘we don’t know vs. they know’. Another aspect where they appear to have a higher status in the relationship. And I think that even with a caregiver who is aware of this dynamic it’s very difficult to avoid these status implications. Like I say, it’s kind of built in to the system.

I could probably list more of these sorts of traps that exist that are just built in to the system of getting help from a professional.

What I taught myself to do many years ago is to remind myself that I’m in charge of me completely in this situation. When I pick up the phone I embody the attitude that I am interviewing them for the position of some aspect of my caregiving. When I declare myself, to myself, as being an autonomous being, I feel like I’m not so prone to feeling that status/power discrepancy that’s built in…it gives me a sense of having the power of choice…the power to exit if I need to. I’ve gotten pretty good at that I must say. :slight_smile:


And that’s the other important side of this. Maybe she’s a fantastically skilled practitioner that would be a great fit for you despite her insistence on being referred to as Dr. And maybe it’s just a preference rather than an insistence. Maybe you could think of it in the same light as someone who prefers that you use a specific gender pronoun when speaking to them…? They feel it identifies them in a way that suits them. This is just a vocational or professional pronoun. They earned it so they get to make that decision for themselves just like you get to decide whether to enlist their help or not.


Thanks, Margo!! Yes, gender bias is so real and could be part of her reason. So complicated when many of my past experiences (whether I identified as female at the time or male) came from cis women misusing their power towards me. This will definitely be in the front of my mind during my call. Will keep you posted.


Hmmm… yes, maybe a preference. I will just acknowledge that I do judge folks who prefer to be referred to that way. I will try to keep an open mind!

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I was just sort of thinking this through myself as I was writing it…a preference seemed like a nice shift of frame to look at it through. I judge folks for all kinds of reasons myself…me and you should have a ‘judge off’ competition…I’m feeling pretty confident I could win Dru (aka Dru).

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I’m reminded of a time when I was looking for a doctor. There were quite a lot to choose from; I got so frustrated going through their various degrees, universities attended, specialties, sub-specialties, etc. that I actually chose a doctor with the fewest initials after his name and it so happened that his last name was Lennon, my favorite Beatle! He was one of the best, kindest, most thorough doctors I’ve ever had! It just now occurred to me that might have been when I started listening to my intuition!