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Page Contents: I gave some of my writings to my psychotherapist and they have not been returned.                    


My psychotherapist borrowed some of my writings, about myself and my emotions. I no longer see him. I want the writings back but we ended on bad terms. Those papers belong to me. Why hasn’t he voluntarily returned them to me?

Whenever you give any writings or other papers to your psychotherapist, everything becomes a part of your clinical record. Now, in the abstract legal sense, you “own” your clinical record, but in the practical sense all the actual papers in the record belong to your psychotherapist, and he has the legal obligation to keep everything intact for several years after a case is closed. Therefore, those papers you gave him no longer belong to you. They belong to him, and he has no reason to return them to you.

You have a legal right to see what is in your clinical record, though, because, as I just said, you “own” your record. So, you could send a letter to your psychotherapist requesting that he send you copies of those papers.

If the writings are in themselves some way unique or special (for example, if they contain original artwork), then you might ask your psychotherapist to make copies of your writings and keep them for the record, and then send the originals to you. He’s not obligated to do this, but he could do it out of kindness.

Furthermore, if the material amounts to more than just a couple of pages, you should expect to pay for the cost of the copying, the cost of the postage, and the cost of the psychotherapist’s time to do all the work necessary. So mention your understanding of this point when you make your request for the material.


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Raymond Lloyd Richmond, Ph.D.
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