Will Therapist’s Notes Be Used Against Me?

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about requesting time for counseling:

Hi, I’m going to be starting counseling for some issues I need to deal with. Starting next week, I will be meeting with a therapist every week and will need to leave my job early to attend the session each week. I have a note from my primary doctor and the therapist that I will be having the appointment at a specific time each week. I want to hand the notes in on my job, but I am hesitant that somehow they will be used against me when I try to advance or if something happens on the job.

Also, I don’t feel comfortable disclosing that I am in counseling. It has this stigma that you are crazy. So my question is: do you think if I disclose I am going to counseling that will mess with my career? I am also applying for FMLA leave to take the time for counseling and other appointments and have my job secured, but I just started the process and it has not been approved as yet (A third party administrates it, so my job has no knowledge of what I need the time off for.) I want to start the counseling next week because it’s something that I need to get started with right away. So am I shooting myself in the foot by disclosing too much? Not sure how to handle this.

Signed, Hesitant

Dear Hesitant:

Perhaps you could say you have a series of medical appointments and not say it is for counseling. Or, you may want HR to inform your manager of the need for you to leave for medical reasons, then you just go in and reaffirm it briefly. If you do say it is for counseling, you don’t have to say what for. Even if your manager or supervisor is aware of the counseling it’s not like you’re going in for electric shock treatments, it’s just counseling. Many people in your office have probably done that in the past, for a variety of issues.

Here is the key for having it be a plus instead of a minus: Use as little time as possible and show that the counseling is making a difference in your life. If you do that, you will be considered a success story, which is always a positive thing.There are many reasons one is promoted or not promoted, and rarely is the employee aware of all of them. But, for the most part the criteria is the likelihood of success, based on past behavior and performance. If someone is an excellent employee, how they got that way isn’t the biggest issue. If someone is a problematic employee, that is usually the main concern, not why they are that way.I think most people view the fact that someone seeks personal assistance as a good indicator that they are taking responsibility for their life. That’s for more admirable than not doing it and having personal issues affect work in some way.So, my advice is to not disclose more than you have to, but not worry about it if something is known.Best wishes to you with this!

Tina Lewis Rowe