Woe Awaits The Trapped, Traveling Therapist

Woman on airplane i i

Looking forward to a quiet flight? Reveal you're a psychiatrist and your seatmate may try to turn the travel time into a free therapy session. iStockphoto.com hide caption

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Woman on airplane

Looking forward to a quiet flight? Reveal you're a psychiatrist and your seatmate may try to turn the travel time into a free therapy session.

iStockphoto.com

Mental health professionals often board planes and trains with trepidation. If the passenger seated next to them starts a conversation with "So, what do you do?" their response can inspire an impromptu therapy session.

On the other hand, some seatmates fear being analyzed and opt to keep quiet.

Liz Galst spoke to mental health professionals about the perils of traveling for The New York Times. In her piece, "Cornered: Therapists On Planes," she reveals the different strategies for handling seatmates who share a bit too much.

"There are some people who really value the human interaction, even though they're off-duty," Galst tells NPR's Neal Conan.

But some therapists try to get around the question by responding creatively.  Galst interviewed one practicing adolescent psychiatrist who tells people he's a sociologist, which is in fact part of his job.

"That's an effective conversation ender," she says.

But psychologists, psychiatrists and therapists aren't the only professionals met with strangers who want to spill their guts. Lawyers, clergy members, doctors, tell us: Ever been in an awkward conversation with a stranger on a plane? How did you handle it?

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