I have been seeing my therapist for 4 sessions now to talk about things related to my family, my past, just difficult things I had to go through and our goal is to understand myself better.
Now this last time I saw him, he asked me what my sexual fantasies were. I don’t understand how it could be beneficial to talk about them but I didn’t think of that at the time so I didn’t ask him.
But is it a violation of privacy’? Is it out of line of him to ask me that? (From the UK)

Thank you for your email. Therapists are trained in a variety of different ways and what might seem inappropriate for some is perfectly natural for others. The fact that this caused a strong reaction is important in and of itself. I would use your discomfort as the basis of your next session. Rather than my trying to assess whether or not the therapist has overstepped his boundaries with the question, I’d rather see you talk to him about your reaction. Since you’re just beginning to see the therapist all the questions you’ve asked here are appropriate to ask him. Finding out what is the nature of the question, why is it beneficial to talk about this, and importantly — that you feel as if it’s an invasion of your privacy. While difficult I think these conversations are essential for you either building a deeper relationship with the therapist or moving on.

Just to give you a taste of the various forms of psychotherapy here is a blog that helps distinguish the four major ones quite well. While it is common for therapists to be “eclectic” in their approach most will identify with a primary type of therapy the conduct.

As for the goals and effectiveness of psychotherapy and different formats, there are many. In this blog you can learn the different modalities and approaches that are used.

But of all the points about various forms of therapy, therapy styles, and therapist’s training I think the most important feature of your question is that it concerns your rights as a mental health consumer. Your rights are important to know and understand as part of the treatment process.

Central to your rights is your involvement in a treatment plan with the therapist. Again, this varies depending on the modality (such as individual versus group therapy) and methodology. All of your questions are good ones, your concern is legitimate, and your feelings about being asked are an important part of the process. Even if it ends up that you wish to leave talking to your therapist about your reaction is important for your growth, regardless of if you stay with the therapist or not.

To learn more about your rights you can check out this post.

Wishing you patience and peace,
Dr. Dan
Proof Positive Blog @ PsychCentral