She is a psychiatrist employed by the Miami Metro Police Department who offers therapy to their employees. Following an officer-involved shooting, she is personally assigned to Lieutenant Debra Morgan.
Michelle Ross is a woman in her early 40s with mid-length, curly brown hair and a kind, understanding expression. She has bright blue eyes and often wears reading glasses, although she removes them when listening intently to her patient. She always wears professional business attire.
Dr. Ross is an open-minded individual who knows how to ask the right questions in a supportive manner She ultimately breaks through Debra's protective barrier regarding her feelings and learns a great deal about her history. As the sessions progress, more focus is put onto Debra's dependency on Dexter and her failed relationships with others.
In the aftermath of the restaurant shooting, Debra is required to meet with a therapist. She dodges this for weeks, but can avoid it no longer when Dr. Michelle Ross shows up in her office. After Debra answers some questions, Dr. Ross says that she seems fine. Debra, though, speaks up and says that everything is great with the shooting, but everything since then is fucking her up. Dr. Ross asks her to explain.
Debra: “Like being Lieutenant. And all the day-to-day bullshit that comes with it. Got the Doomsday Killer doing his shit in my city, and I try to do any work in here, and I can't, and -- did I mention I just broke up with my boyfriend and I don't have a place to live anymore, so, at the end of the day, I can't even go home? I'm living with my brother and his son, and... don't get me wrong, I love them, it's just... there's a reason I'm an aunt and not a parent and... I just feel like I don't have a space to call my own right now.”
Dr. Ross suggests that she get a place of her own, which Debra does by renting a beach house.
In their next session (again in Debra’s office), Debra says there’s nothing else she wants to talk about. Dr. Ross says that, as far as the restaurant shooting, Debra is good to go and there’s no need to meet again. As Michelle is about to leave, Debra says there is “one more thing.”
Debra: “I feel like my whole world has been turned upside down.”
Dr. Ross: “That's kind of more than an afterthought. Go on."
Debra: “For the first time, I feel lost in a place that's always felt like home. I look at my co-workers and I see the doubt in their eyes, and it makes me doubt myself. I mean, they used to be my friends. Now they're my subordinates. It used to be simple. I feel like shit about Quinn. I think he thinks that....I dumped him because I think I'm better than him now. And I used to be able to talk to Batista, but that's awkward because I made Lieutenant over him. I still have Dexter. We've always been close, since we were kids. But that's different too, because... ...it's weird to be my big brother's boss. I just don't know how to act around anyone anymore.”
Dr. Ross: “So don't.”
Dr. Ross: “Don't act. Just be Debra. You're too much in your head, you're... you're thinking too much. Just do the job, live your life, and give it all a chance to sort itself out.”
Debra: “I don't know if I know how to do that anymore.”
Dr. Ross: “What would you be doing right now if you hadn't gotten this promotion?”
Debra: “If I wasn't Lieutenant? If I didn't have briefings and reports and meetings coming out of my ass?”
Dr. Ross: “Yeah.”
Debra: “I would probably throw a housewarming party at my new beach house.”
Dr. Ross: [laughs] “Well, that sounds like a lot more fun than worrying about all this other stuff."
:Debra: “For a shrink, you're not that annoying.”
Dr. Ross: “Thanks. Not that you'd ever need a shrink, but... ...you might need a bookmark.” [She hands Debra her card.]
Dr. Ross: “I saw the news. I wasn't sure you'd be able to make our session anyway."
Debra: “Yeah, I almost canceled. But, uh, I could use the break.”
Dr. Ross: “That must have been a difficult thing to see.”
Debra: “You could say that. I mean, I show up, right, to question her about her brother and... 24 hours later... I can't help but feel responsible. You know, I knew that there was something that she wasn't telling me.”
Dr. Ross: “Do you think she knew that her brother was involved?”
Debra: “I think she knew something was up with him. And I think she was trying to protect him, which is what a good sister does. And then, he ends up killing her. Oh, Jesus. Are all brothers assholes?”
Dr. Ross: “Who are we talking about now?”
Debra: “Who else? Dexter.”
Dr. Ross: “Ah. So you think he might kill you?”
Debra: [laughs] “No, I don't think he's going to kill me, I just -- I think he treats me like shit.”
Dr. Ross: “Oh?”
Debra: “He shuts me out. He won't tell me things, like... really important things.”
Dr. Ross: “Sounds like you two are having a little trouble communicating lately.”
Debra: “We aren't having trouble communicating. He's the one that's keeping all the secrets.”
Dr. Ross: “But normally, you're pretty open with each other.”
Debra: “Yes. I tell him everything. I tell him about boyfriends, work. I tell him about everything.”
Dr. Ross: “Sounds like a lot of talking about yourself.”
Debra: “Aren't you supposed to be on my side?”
Dr. Ross: “I'm just telling you what I'm hearing.”
Debra: “Okay, yeah. We talk about me. [chuckles sadly] A lot. But that's what I'm saying. I can't get him to tell me shit-all about jack shit.”
Dr. Ross: “Or maybe he doesn't think there's any room in the relationship for his needs. Maybe next time you get together you could just make some effort to focus on him and his issues.”
Debra meets with Dr. Ross again and the session focuses on Dexter.
Debra: “Dexter's allowed to have a private life, but is it too much to ask for a little give and take?”
Dr. Ross: “Would you say that your brother has always been guarded?”
Debra: “Well, yeah, that's the problem.”
Dr. Ross: “But if he's always been this way, why would you suddenly expect him to change?”
Debra: “I don't know.”
Dr. Ross: “Would you expect a chair to suddenly become a table?”
Debra: “No, but --”
Dr. Ross: “No, because a chair…”
Debra: “Is a chair.”
Dr. Ross: “Mm-hmm.”
Debra: “Dexter is who he is. You're good.”
Dr. Ross: “How does it make you feel when he shuts you out?”
Dr. Ross: “Where do you think this comes from? This feeling of being alone?”
Debra: “I don't know. My mom died when I was a teenager.”
Dr. Ross: “That must have been hard. Becoming a woman with -- with no mother figure.”
Debra: “It would have helped if my dad had paid me any attention. That's probably why I fell in love with someone twice my age. He was shot in front of me. Did I mention that?”
Dr. Ross: “No.”
Debra: “I was probably looking for someone safer after being engaged to this really great guy that also turned out to be a serial killer.”
Dr. Ross: “Would you like it if we started seeing each other more than once a week?” [Debra nods.]
On the day that Debra is drenched in blood at the Bowls of Wrath tableau, she meets with Dr. Ross afterward.
Debra: “Are you serious? Bowls of blood dropped on my head? It's like a perfect fucking metaphor for my entire fucking life. I'm not even sure I believe in God, but I'm pretty sure he hates me.”
Dr. Ross: “Losing your parents is difficult. Having a loved one shot in front of you is unthinkable. Finding out that your fiance is a serial killer --”
Debra: “Did I mention that he was Dexter's biological brother?”
Dr. Ross: “No, you did not. So wait a minute -- the Ice Truck Killer was your brother?”
Debra: “No. Dexter was adopted. So we're not blood-related.”
Dr. Ross: “Oh.”
Debra: “What? What does that "oh" mean?”
Dr. Ross: “You mentioned that your father didn't pay much attention to you. What was his relationship with Dexter like?”
Debra: “They did everything together.”
Dr. Ross: “And without your mother…”
Debra: “I was left behind.”
Dr. Ross: “You can move forward, Debra. But it's gonna mean taking responsibility for your feelings and your choices.”
Debra: “What does that mean?”
Dr. Ross: “Please don't misunderstand me. I am very sensitive to the trauma and the tragedy that you've experienced. But, as far as your failed relationships are concerned…”
Dr. Ross: “We are responsible for the partners we choose.”
Debra: “Bullshit. How the fuck was I supposed to know that Rudy was the Ice Truck Killer? Are you saying that I chose to be with a serial killer on purpose?”
Dr. Ross: “I think you have a history of choosing inappropriate or unavailable men.”
Debra: Well, what the fuck do you want me to say? That my life is a train wreck of a disaster? That my life is a shithole? Well, I already know this. This isn't news to me, okay? I know that I am broken.”
Dr. Ross: “Do you know that you don't have to be? You can pick up the pieces.”
Dr. Ross: “By making different choices. By breaking your patterns. Debra, it's gonna be hard. But you can make yourself whole again. You can.”
Debra has a panic attack at the Santa Maria de Loreto crime scene, and afterward meets with Dr. Ross.
Debra: “I had a freak-out at a crime scene today.”
Dr. Ross: “Is that unusual?"
Debra: “Yes, that's unusual. Seen a lot of fucked up shit and it usually just rolls right off."
Dr. Ross: “But not today.”
Debra: “You know what's even weirder is the stuff that usually fucks me up didn't even phase me today.”
Dr. Ross: “Like what?"
Debra: “Like LaGuerta trying to swing her dick around in the briefing room. I handled that like a champ.”
Dr. Ross: ‘Well, that's fantastic.”
Debra: “So why did I lose my shit when I walked into that church?”
Dr. Ross: “Did the church have some kind of significance for you?”
Debra: “I don't know. The only time I go to church is to go to a funeral, you know? My mom, my dad... boyfriends, my sister-in-law.”
Dr. Ross: “So you associate church with loss.”
Debra: “I guess. Whatever. Doesn't matter. My brother showed up, he calmed me down.”
Dr. Ross: “Dexter? Was it something that he said?”
Debra: “Um... I guess. Not really. It was more just him being there. Come to think of it... every time the shit hits the fan, I go to him. I've even moved in with him a few times.”
Dr. Ross: “He's your safe place.”
Debra: “Yeah. Since we were kids. I used to have these nightmares, and... I would sneak into his room and I'd curl up on the floor. He wouldn't even know I was there. Is that weird?”
Dr. Ross: “I don't know. Do you think it's weird?”
Debra: [smiling] “Not really. He's my brother. I think it's sweet.”
After the Wormwood attack at the police station, Dr. Ross observes an emotional Debra hugging Dexter. During their next session, Dr. Ross digs deeper into Debra’s feelings for Dexter.
Dr. Ross: “You've been talking a lot about your department this morning, but how are you doing since the attack?”
Debra: “I'm fine. Pretty much, I mean... I'm worried about Dexter. He wouldn't go to the hospital. He keeps saying he's okay.”
Dr. Ross: “You must be very proud of him.”
Debra: [scoffs] “He saved everyone's life... including mine. It all happened so fast, you know? If that canister had gone off any sooner --”
Dr. Ross: “Your brother holds a very important place in your life.”
Debra: “He's really all I have. You think I'm crazy now, oh, I can't even imagine what a fucking mess my life would be without him.”
Dr. Ross: “I don't think you're crazy.”
Debra: “Can I get that in writing?”
Dr. Ross: “From what I do know about you, you feel things very deeply. Like your bond with Dexter. Where do you think that stems from?”
Debra: “Maybe because he's the only guy in my life that I haven't dumped, or cheated on, or...isn't dead.”
Dr. Ross: “Is it possible that your feelings for Dexter are the reason that you've chosen men in the past who have been either inappropriate or unavailable?”
Debra: “Because they're what? Not Dexter? That's insane."
Dr. Ross: “Is it?”
Debra: “He's my brother.”
Dr. Ross: “Yet you're not biologically related.”
Dr. Ross: “It would be understandable, given the past traumas the two of you have shared, for you to develop complex feelings for him.”
Debra: “Why the fuck are we even talking about this?”
Dr. Ross: “You mentioned Dexter. He comes up in these sessions a lot. Aren't you curious as to why that is?”
Debra: “He's a huge part of my life. That's it. End of story.”
Dr. Ross: “You getting upset?”
Debra: Fuck yes, I'm becoming upset, because you're making it sound like I want to... be with him or something.”
Dr. Ross: “Well, do you?”
Debra: [angrily] “Look... I love my brother, but I am sure as shit not in love with my brother, if that's what you're getting at. We're done here.”
During the night, Debra has a dream in which Dexter kisses her. As he wakes up, she says, “Oh, fuck.”.
After Debra receives a report that Dexter’s boat has washed ashore, she rushes to his apartment. Relieved that he’s alive and okay, she begins to cry and hug him. When Debra tells Dexter that she loves him, he replies, “I love you, too.” She apparently takes this to mean that he loves her in more than a brotherly way. While they are working together later, Dexter is puzzled when Debra acts awkwardly around him. Back in his office, Debra tries to bring up the subject of their feelings toward each other, but when he refers to her as “Sis,” she drops the subject. Before she leaves, Dexter agrees to do a final forensic sweep at the church after Harrison’s pageant.
Later, Debra appears at the office of Dr. Ross, unannounced.
Debra: “You were right.”
Dr. Ross: “Debra, we can schedule a time --”
Debra: “I told him. I fucking told my brother that I love him, and he said ‘I love you’ back. Not ‘Me too’ or something like that. He actually said, ‘I love you.’”
Dr. Ross: “Wow. That's big, isn't it?”
Debra: “Yeah, I mean, I don't think he understood that I'm in love with him, but still, he said the actual words... for the first time.”
Dr. Ross: “So what do you think it means?”
Debra: “I don't know what the fuck it means. That's why I'm here. Is this just... horribly wrong?”
Dr. Ross: “Does it feel wrong?”
Debra: “It makes my whole life -- [chuckles] Every man I've ever loved -- make sense. It's like I've always been looking for someone like Dexter or someone who's the opposite of Dexter as a way to avoid the fact that I'm in love with him. That's just clear to me now, and I want it to be clear to him. I want him to understand.”
Dr. Ross: “Okay. You want to tell him how you feel in a way that he can hear you.”
Debra: “Yes. [sighs and chuckles] “Is this how it feels to be in control of your emotions?"
Dr. Ross: “But you can't control his. You don't know how he's going to react.”
Having decided to reveal her feelings to Dexter, Debra goes to the Santa Maria de Loreto where he’s supposedly conducting the forensic sweep. As she enters the church, Debra is shocked by the sight of Dexter killing Travis Marshall, and Dexter is equally shocked to see her there.
During the course of therapy, Dr. Ross discovers a fact known only by Debra, Dexter, and Thomas Matthews: The Ice Truck Killer and Dexter are biological brothers. In Season Seven, Maria LaGuerta also learns of this.