Trust Issues - Learn to Trust Your Doctor

October 10, 2011 Natasha Tracy

I have trust issues, but then, I think everyone does. We all grow up with people disappointing us and breaking our trust. It's just a part of becoming an adult.

But unfortunately, all relationships are based on trust, and this includes one with a doctor. It's essential to be able to trust what your doctor says and does. You have to be able to believe in what he's saying in order to try treatments that are often unpleasant and might make you feel worse before they make you feel better.

But doctors do a lot of things to break that trust, sometimes because they have to and sometimes simply because they do. So how's a patient to get over broken trust in a relationship with a doctor?

Doctors Breaking Trust

There are so many ways for doctors to break trust and it all depends on your relationship expectations. For example, if a doctor fails to tell you about side effects and then a medication makes you very sick, you might feel that trust has been broken. Or being committed to an institution without your consent can easily feel like broken trust, even when admission is absolutely necessary.

And when trust is broken with a doctor, it may spill into relationships with every doctor, so even a doctor in the future can suffer from the sins committed in the past. And let's not forget, doctors also have to be able to trust their patients. They have to trust you will take the medication and that you will be honest with them. This too can hamper a doctor-patient relationship.

A Patient Needs to Trust a Doctor

But you need to be able to trust your doctor. No matter what else is happening, you have to have a basic trust that your doctor has your best interest at heart. If you don't have that, how can you ever successfully work together?

Learning to Trust a Doctor

mp9003877761As the saying goes, trust is earned, but don't expect a doctor to jump through hoops to prove their trustworthiness. No, instead it's more like walking out onto a frozen pond. At first you take a few tentative steps where the ice is the thickest and most supportive and then, over time, you find yourself skating from bank to bank, confident the ice will hold your weight.

So start small with a doctor. As my friend would say, trust but verify. Take the doctor at his word, but check on what he's saying. Look information up on the internet. Ask questions. Do not blindly walk wherever he tells you to. Take baby steps.

This will give you a chance to find out who your doctor is and what type of relationship expectations you both have. Maybe you're made for each other. Maybe you're not. By treading gently, you can step back when the ice cracks instead of when you're engulfed in icy water.

If the Trust Has Been Broken

And if you feel the trust has already been broken be open about it. He can't express his viewpoint or explain why he behaved the way he did if you don't give him the chance. And the doctor may not know you feel the trust has been broken and he can't work to fix something he doesn't know isn't working.

And if nothing else, when things are rocky, remind yourself that your doctor didn't go through a decade of schooling to mess with you. He likely did it because he wants to help people and he likely wants to help you too. You both just need to find the best way to make that happen.

You can find Natasha Tracy on Facebook or GooglePlus or @Natasha_Tracy on Twitter.

APA Reference
Tracy, N. (2011, October 10). Trust Issues - Learn to Trust Your Doctor, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, April 17 from

Author: Natasha Tracy

Natasha Tracy is a renowned speaker, award-winning advocate, and author of Lost Marbles: Insights into My Life with Depression & Bipolar. She's also the host of the podcast Snap Out of It! The Mental Illness in the Workplace Podcast.

Find Natasha Tracy on her blog, Bipolar BurbleTwitter, InstagramFacebook, and YouTube.

Elder Kraft
June, 26 2022 at 3:47 am

I do because I’m there too & have been for long time (PhD in bio from top school, trained to teach doctors, tons of psych classes, so I do see what they’re up to, and a lifetime of being punished for showing I’m in pain.I have learned several reasons why people ignore the pain that is so chronic and intense. If they are strangers like a receptionist, pharmacist, not your regular doc, a person on the street, and especially nurses, The primary reason I think is that they are ignorant & know it, never having felt such a high level of pain, chronically, so when they see distress, they get scared and want it to just stop making their day harder (what do I do? I’m no expert. I’m afraid to get involved and what if it hurts ME? should I call 911? - as if a paramedic knows squat more than them about your pain but have been trained to look like they do by following protocol: calling the cops, hand cuffing you, strapping you down and sending a $1500 bill). You’re not asking for a cure that doesn’t exist, you’re asking for assistance with a particular problem that exists at the moment, but they think they should produce a cure, and they can’t. So just go away if I can’t find a quick answer cause a computer is down.
If they are people who like or love you (I asked) the answer is it is very hard for them (screw you) to sit with someone who they don’t want to know is in constant agony, they can’t cure or stop. Of course you’re not asking them to cure you, you’re asking them to treat you like a normal person who is different than them, so they can’t relate, or so they think. Of course there there is, an easy answer. Look at autistic kids. They are diagnosed so early, they still have the natural appearance of someone good, who needs protection. If your disability starts after the cute baby phase, when you ARE developing into the person they made but don’t know, a problem many parents with normal kids have problems understanding,?they think, no easy cure which is what the literature is focused on, when at the moment you’re just asking for something like a bandaid to get you through a tough patch. You know there is no cure. If you act in a way that shows a tad of your pain, guilt is what they feel, and inadiquacy. Of course there is something simple they can do, but they don’t think of it like they would if you were a baby or child, turning on care hormones. If you were a child, they would stop, reassure, and most likely hug you,?demonstrating their care, reminding you that you have their full support and are part of their family. So acknowledging your pain makes them uncomfortable and the easy answer doesn’t occur to them. Now if it’s a therapist they have a different set of problems that don’t allow them to acknowledge your pain. Again, when a hug would get you to another perspective (never underestimate the power of a loving touch) they get all uptight about transference. If I hug the client, it will inevitably want to get sexually involved- even if you’re a female over 6o with a complete hysterectomy and have no sex drive and the therapist is a gay man- yes, that’s where their brains go first and stay there. Seeking attention for something like refilling meds is “asking for sex”, creepy but true. Almost anything is just another way to ask for sex. Can’t get past it. Can’t normalize the relationship to where THEY aren’t afraid of YOU manipulating them to have sex. Who would want sex with their therapist? Teens, tweens, people who mistake sex for kindnesses. Otherwise no one! Surprise! I don’t want to be mauled slobbered on and let him have an orgasum at my expense. You’re icky. The more attention you force them to pay to you, the more you must want it. Gross. Also, the researchers say you’re sick, so there’s a negative stigma right there. They are busy, stupid stuff is making this task take too long, so you MUST be the one to blame. Get that person out of my hair! Instead of what’s wrong with the pharmacist’s computer system that didn’t get the fax, or worse, my fax is down and I have to fix it before this person gets the hell out of in front of me, making me think and work! (Even though it’s their job). I went to group therapy with a really grounded leader. He actually thought to ask the circle to tell from 1-10 their pain level. We all answered and were between 5to 10. He said he was floored & that he had no idea we were all suffering so much. Why not? He knew us all well. Because just like you can’t chat and have a latte with a woman in labor, (she’s busy dealing with pain and gets the help she needs: reassuring squeeze of the hand, arm around shoulders, encouragement, because it’s temporary for most) they have to do these simple tasks before we can move on, and doing them doesn’t cure you, they’ll have to do it again and again. They don’t want to know you’re suffering even if easing it would take 15 mins of empathy. If properly supported, life could be mostly normal, but they can’t get past the tiny extra need, a hug and a smile and an I love you, that you’re more than ready to return, and work hard with them for the good of all. You have become a problem they can’t solve, not a person they love who needs a bit more compassion temporarily, to feel like you fit in. The disease has to go before they can treat you like a person. Before they can ask for reassurance from you, or accept your love, and let you be a family member.
Furthermore, who ever it is, your pain makes people feel guilty - unless they have a diolsorder of their own that won’t let them feel guilt. The therapist who cant see a person who needs extra love majored in psych to make money to live on, and here you are asking to be acknowledged as a person with special needs that require emotional work from them along with guidance, explaining things you didn’t get taught as a kid, (things everyone knows right?), and special time explaining what they know and why they are acting like they are. The first year of therapy I had a therapist and an intern that explained the therapists motives / behavior. They often make us think they have the answer but they have to sneak, instead of being transparent, needing to explain their failings and fears. They would tell a friend, but clients aren’t friends, they are people who keep coming back because they pretend they can cure you: the problem. And then there is the majority, who automatically think different = bad for me so avoid. They are the ones that can look at two suffering people, a bully and the victim, and want only to be ignorant of what is in front of them - the very ones that must speak up! “Bully, what is hurting you so much you have to harm victim?” “Victim, what is hurting you so much you cower in fear, then lash out?” “What can we all do together to make the bus stop /!office environment a pleasant place for all?” Then there are situations that need more. Mom was abused and is now antisocial, deriving pleasure from torturing their kids? Dad finds the situation at work much more rewarding, so dad neglects mom and they fight and teach the kids that resolving small glitches in communication is done through subtle reassuring word choices and expressions of harmlessness, not preparing for another weekend of fighting and the dissolution of the family, with parents screaming hate at one another. Here other people have to step in with courage. The dad is happy at work? Let the marriage end without him throwing mom in the gutter and the kids in boarding school. Someone take one kid, someone else take another, keep them out of the system, do it yourselves. Put mom in a happy place where she feels understood and safe, loved, supported. Get everyone the tiny extra diesels of what they need to have enough confidence to be the mostly normal person they are, so they don’t feel like THE PRIBLEM that can’t be fixed. Let the therapists disappear. Making money off someone suffering is sick. Let them get the help they seek through pretending to know how to treat illnesses they can’t define much less treat or cure. Technology is going to have to catch up. A guy was speared in the head by a lead pipe. He can’t talk. He can’t move. No! Don’t separate him from the world! Send him home to his completely uneducated family who get him back on his feet using puffs off cigarettes. It worked. Not because cigarettes cue brain damage! LOL Because the family kept treating him as just another member of the family who happens to need an unusual form of supportive love. For most people what counts is knowing someone loves them. Period. Some people have their back no matter what. Someone is viciously attacking others and enjoying it (antisocial pd). Carefully while protecting everyone let them know that what they are trying to hide is obvious but we are willing to keep you in the family/ group with your tendency to steal lie enjoy pain you inflict on us as a special need. You get reassured that we love you Cookie Monster, we don’t fear you. Puff by puff, the insecurity and imagined need to hide how monstrous you are isn’t necessary, but you try too, to get that puff. You’re bipolar? Puff by puff you try, and we never kick you out of the family, we just ask you to tell us where youre at, what you need, and without being defensive, we try to give you a puff, so if you’re way high, we help you see that and if you’re way low we do the same. No one is mentally ill to the Point the extended family can’t cope with it if there is transparency. You’re borderline and every stimulus causes pain (happy til it hurts, sad so you feel deep depression, whatever emotion can cool off then you can help the team. You’re a valuable member. We don’t have to fix you. You just need 15 mins of adjustment. The answer is there is nothing any person needs more than belonging , but when people making money off your pain pretending they have the secret cure step in and formalize everyone with a diagnosis that insurance companies need to pay them, everyone is robbed of their humanity people stop treating each other with love, and get stuck thinking no one can move forward before the sickness that really is just different ways of showing how they understand being loved which is the simple answer, is thwarted. Mental health can’t be defined yet. Neurobiology is at the stage where the brain and how it works is maybec2-5% understood. Let the research be funded, the technology advanced and someday we’ll all be so much alike that we’ll all get along but at a massive cost to variability in the gene pool and we’ll all drown in a sea of mediocrity together.

Finula McCaul
October, 13 2011 at 8:14 pm

I trusted my doctor, but I don't think I will ever be going back after what his staff did to me.
I have been on SSRIs for over a dozen years continuously. In the last year my doctor's office set up an arrangement with the local pharmacies that the pharmacist would call in refills when they were needed. I, as a patient, no longer needed to do this.
This worked out for awhile, and then the doctor's office started dropping the ball. They didn't respond to the pharmacy, even over a period of several days. I would call them and be promised that I could pick up my meds, and then they would not be available. I would be forced to squat at the pharmacy and keep bothering these people who were doing their jobs properly, because my SSRI's were going to run out and at that point I would not be able to function well enough to do anything to get them.
This situation kept getting worse, and myself more anxious and desperate, until the last instance When I ended up going to my doctors office and refusing to leave until the problem was dealt with.
Everything goes through one senior office staff person there. He told me that they hadn't gotten the request from the pharmacy. Then he told me that I couldn't have any refills until I saw the doctor, which I could do in two weeks. He was telling me to completely and suddenly discontinue after over a decade of constant use.
My doctor would not do this. Even if he weren't a good man, and kind, which he is, this is criminally negligent. I said as much to the man on the other side of the plexiglass. He said he would try to talk to the doctor. I waited 20 minutes. He said the doctor would write me a scrip to cover me until an appointment. I waited another 20 minutes. He then said I didn't have to wait for the scrip, they would fax it to the pharmacy. I asked if they were sure, they said yes.
I went to the pharmacy. No scrip. I had to ask them to call the doctors. They were told to leave a message. I waited there another half hour, asked them to call again. This time they were told that I was not being given a refill scrip. I had to ask them to call back again. This dropped them into the lunch period when phones were not answered. Eventually I had to leave.
I had my antidepressants discontinued by the decision of the /secretary/ of the clinic, who found me annoying and wanted me to stop bothering him. Might as well put a gun to my head, it would have been kinder. I sit here, going through the kind of withdrawal many of you can imagine, and I have to wonder how many other people has this man done similar things to. How many helpless trusting people have been abused in this fashion? Has anyone died of it? It is a distinct possibility.
This needs to be stopped, but I have no idea how. Anything sent to the clinic will do directly to this man. I haven't been able to find any venue to register a complaint, ask for an investigation, anything to make sure that this doesn't happen to anyone else.
Can anyone help with this? The location is Western Pennsylvania, the medical organization is UPMC.

October, 10 2011 at 11:03 pm

Hi Natasha,
Excellent! I agree with you. I have another "problem" with my psychiatrist. Or so I think. I am afraid that I talk to much regarding my treatment. You see I have a lot of knowledge regarding pharmaceutical treatments and mechanisms. And research. It is not surprising since I have a masters degree in pharmaceutical science and have worked with clinical research for 11 years. My point is that I feel that maybe I get to close to be on the "same level" as my psychiatrist. In terms of science and medication. Of course not the psychiatric "stuff". But I am afraid my doctor might think that I have better control of my bipolar "state" than I have. I do not have control. Not at all. I am becoming more rapid cycling. Maybe I just should "shut up". It is "great" when I am really depressed. Then I do not talk at all. And my brain feels like thick syrup. As you probably already figured out, I have an issue when I am hypo manic. Then I just keep talking regarding medication and science. On and on and on. I want to be A patient. Maybe I am just imagining things? I have had one real issue. My prior psychiatrist and I became friends and we were actually actively planning to start a business together! How weird is that? And I can tell you it is not good to have a doctor who becomes your "real" friend. I have a new doctor now (since May). And she is absolutely great. But I do not want to ruin things. That I maybe do not get the help I really need. I do not want her to think about me as "Johan", I want her to think of me as THE patient. But on the other hand I do want to be involved and discuss treatments etc. But I do not know where to "draw the line". And now I am falling down. More into depression. I am afraid that my doctor and nurse won’t take me “seriously”. I think that she does not realize how bad I am right now. No one does. I am that happy, funny outgoing guy Johan. They just do not look behind the mask. But the mask is transparent. Why do not people see that? Why does “everyone” think I am happy? When all I think of is the dark abyss. It is strange that no one take it seriously when you say you have suicidal thoughts. Mutilation. My boss told me the other day “Johan, are you always this happy and positive. Everybody likes you”. I do not feel good. I have these real dark thoughts. Why is that no one can notice it? My nurse did not even react when she saw the razorblade in my wallet. That I fortunately gave to her and she threw it away. Why did not anything “happen”. Do they not realize? Do I look so happy? I do not feel like my face is looking happy. I am tired. I am bipolar but I apparently do not have those two well known faces. The happy and sad. From the theatre. I seems like I just have that happy face. It just feels awkward. Unreal. Nd all of the time I just keep falling, falling, falling, tumbling, falling, tumbling, falling… and no one notices. I try. Have tried. I do not understand. I am not in control. People think. Why? My doctor know that I am depressed. But why does she not realize how bad it is? Does she think I have control. Due to my education? My research experiences? I just want to give in. Let someone else take control I guess. I do not have control.
So you see. Why do no one see through me? Not my psychiatrist, not my nurse, colleagues my family.

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