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FRIEND PUTS HER IN THERAPIST'S ROLE

Q:I have a close friend, "Ethel," about whom I'm very worried. She sees a therapist, "Amy," once a week for depression and suicidal thoughts, and while I think it's a wonderful idea, I'm concerned because she has become "friends" with her therapist.

This has gone as far as gift-giving, attending the therapist's wedding, etc.

I am the one who gets the 4 a.m. phone calls when Ethel is feeling like the world is ending for her. She says my son and I are the only reason she doesn't do something to herself. When I ask Ethel why she doesn't discuss this with Amy, or call her at 4 a.m., Ethel says she doesn't want to burden her with her problems. She also refers to her appointments as "visiting" with Amy and says that they have lovely talks about Amy's family, etc.

After seeing this therapist for five years, wouldn't you think Ethel would be a little bit better? If anything, I think she's worse.

I have suggested that Ethel find another therapist, but all she says is that Amy is her friend. What else can I do?

Sara in Salem, Ore.

A: It's apparent that Amy is no longer acting in the role of therapist. And because she has become a friend, Ethel doesn't want to impose upon her with her problems.

The next time Ethel calls you at 4 a.m., tell her she is calling the wrong person. The things she is telling you are the things her therapist needs to know in order to help her. If Ethel refuses, then tell her she needs a therapist with a fresh approach. If Amy is truly her friend, Amy will understand and give her a referral while maintaining their personal relationship.

Too young to hunt?

Q: My 4-year-old grandson, "Teddy," is the apple of my eye.

I recently learned that my son-in-law has been taking Teddy hunting for deer and sees no harm in it. At his age, my grandson should be at a petting zoo admiring God's creatures instead of viewing the killing of them.

I have a policy of not interfering with how my children raise their children. I have shared my opinion that Teddy is too young, but it has fallen on deaf ears.

I don't believe that this is good for Teddy's psychological development. How do I approach my son-in-law about this, and at what age do you think it is appropriate to allow the boy to go hunting?

Concerned Grandpa in Greenville, S.C.

A: It would be interesting to know how your daughter feels about this. While I am not a fan of killing for sport, many people are avid hunters who consume the birds and animals they shoot.

While going on those expeditions at age 4 seems young, if your grandson isn't traumatized and enjoys the "bonding sessions" with his dad, and his mother has no objection, then I guess he's old enough to go - providing he doesn't endanger himself.

Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips. Universal Press Syndicate.

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