Using real name and story in fiction
(Cleveland TN USA)
Question: I am writing a love story about my healing from depression. The format is me writing letters to my counselor and what happens when I fall in love with him. The events are real but I will fictionalize them to make the story stronger. Certain personality traits are key to the story. I love his name and plan to use it in the title. Can I change the spelling of his name or should I think up an entirely new name?Answer:
Assuming you still feel positively towards your counselor, then for the sake of his reputation, I suggest you change the name. (Falling in love with clients, or letting clients fall in love with you, is regarded as off-limits in some counseling circles.)
You should also get his approval before publishing the book, especially if there are other identifying facts in the story.
That said, sometimes writing such a manuscript can itself be therapeutic and a good experience regardless whether or not you publish it.