Author: Robert Schwalbe, PhD

What are the chances of a chance meeting?

I recently informed one of my patients that I would be cancelling our session in three weeks’ time. He checked his calendar and smiled as he too would be cancelling on that same date. He then proceeded to tell me that he would be traveling with his family and how much he was looking forward to it. A red flag was set off in my mind and after I asked him where he’d be traveling to he replied, “Oh we’re taking the night flight to London.” What he didn’t know was that I too was taking a flight to London that evening. Yet, I thought any number of carriers fly out of JFK to London. So I didn’t think too much about that. Came the night of the flight and my wife and I boarded the plane early, as is my wont, and as I settled down I heard someone say “oh look, it’s Dr. Schwalbe!” And lo and behold my patient sat directly across the aisle from me, not three feet away, for the next seven hours. Awkward yes, yet I think it may well have been more so for him. Clearly something to explore when next we meet in my office after he returns from his trip. Seeing me, his analyst outside of the consulting room may well trigger any number of feelings and transference dynamics….feelings and dynamics we will explore.

Robert Schwalbe, PhD

Robert Schwalbe, PhD maintains an analytically informed therapy practice uniquely devoted to working with men from the ages of 18 to 84, in Manhattan’s Upper Eastside – 19 East 80th Street, Suite 1D. He may be reached at: or 212-737-1467.