Can I be Friends with my Therapist? What's the Difference?
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Can I be Friends with my Therapist?

Can I be Friends with my Therapist? Photo of palm trees

Can I be Friends with my Therapist?

It’s not unreasonable to wonder, “Can I be friends with my therapist?” And really, it’s not even a bad idea in a lot of ways.

Some of you would never think of asking the question. For you, a therapist is a tool to help you solve your problem, and you don’t want to see them outside therapy. In fact, that might even be really awkward.

For others of you, not only is it a really nice idea, you might even have a minor longing for it.

And why wouldn’t you? Why wouldn’t you want to be friends with someone who pays close attention to you, works with you to solve the trouble that ails you, and is all-around on your side?

That’s the best kind of friend to have.

Why Being Friends with your Therapist Doesn’t Work

Here’s why therapists are not your friends. And it’s not just because they are a tool to help you solve your problems.

Most relationships are reciprocal. The give and take goes back and forth.

In a therapy relationship, the need goes in one direction. You have needs and the therapist provides. Therefore, you get to experience what you didn’t get enough of or never had as a needy infant and young child. As a result, you get the totally unconditional positive attention of a caregiver who has no expectations of you, aside from the fee.

If I were to become your friend, I would have needs. I would expect that you treat me in the way that I wanted and needed to be treated. You would not be able to be totally dependent on me. You would not be able to discover the ways that your dependence, or denial of it, affects your life.

Many of the reasons you pay me would be lost if we became friends.

Do I Want to Become your Friend?

To be perfectly honest, it’s often hard not to want to be friendly with you once I know you as well as I do as your therapist.

I know you more intimately and more honestly than most anyone else. So why wouldn’t I want to enjoy you like a friend?

But we entered a contract when we met. That contract says that I will “give” to you and that I won’t ask for anything but the fee. Everything else is off limits.

That can be hard, because I meet a lot of really neat people.

But more important to me, than getting something for myself at your expense, is staying true to the contact we made. Staying true to the task of helping you achieve the resolution you came for—without me as a player in the final equation.

So, when I smile at your question about whether we can meet outside, or do business outside, it’s not because I don’t want to be friends. It’s because I might think it’s a nice idea, but I’ve given it up for you. Because I care about helping you. And I don’t want anything that I need or want to take away the most important thing I can give you. Something you truly cannot get anywhere else.

Want that most important thing? Call me. We’ll talk.

Call me for your complimentary fifteen-minute phone consultation.