My Friend is a Therapist & Won't Help Me With My Issues
Are you the friend that is frequently struggling with things and is always calling that one therapist friend for guidance? If that’s you, don’t feel guilty. Nine times out of ten, you had no idea how obnoxious or draining it can be for your therapist friend. It is not your fault and is easy to find yourself doing it because well they are therapists and should be able to help you right? No! We are no good to you if you are constantly doing so, we will begin avoiding your phone calls, listen in silence and literally offer you no help. Now let’s talk about our conditioning. Within the Black, Hispanic/Latino and Asian community, therapy is shunned upon so it’s easy to just go to your friends, the church or well struggle in silence. You are not alone in extensively reaching out to your therapist friends for advice.
It is easy to have fears about therapy because well you have never done it before or don’t know anyone who has. That’s okay too, you can easily start with interviewing therapist that are knowledgeable around your issues of concerns and who are culturally competent. Let me add a disclaimer, not all that look like you think like you. Hence, the need to interview them. Different is also fine, sometimes we need new light to be shed upon our issues. If it helps, having a therapist is like talking to your best friend and oftentimes, therapy does not feel like therapy, so don’t be scared to take a seat on the big couch.
Therapy is a safe space! Do you remember the time in which you vented to your therapist friend or friends about the things that your man or woman did to you, then you made up. Let me guess those same friends you vented to won’t speak to your spouse, is throwing shade and possibly laughing at you. Well let’s just say you can trust your therapist with your darkest secrets and they will still respect your relationships and won't throw shade. They may throw some questions or different viewpoints your way to open your eyes about some things but never shade.
Let me start by saying, bear with your therapist friends. They are consistently assisting clients in and outside of sessions with their problems. If you don’t believe me, ask them! They are frequently researching techniques, activities, creating treatment plans and responding to emails, billing/insurance and inquiries surrounding mental health concerns. Therapists spend just as much time outside of counseling as they do inside of counseling.
These next few lines may come off as harsh but let me start with “Your Therapist Friends Do Not & Can Not Provide Counseling Support to You!” According to our ACA code of ethics under Section A, Counselors are prohibited from engaging in counseling relationships with friends or family members with whom they have an inability to remain objective. In other words, it is just not professional or ethical to do. Yes, even your therapist friends can be bias in regard to how they respond to certain situations.
Much of our day is spent working with clients that are not ready to do the work, struggling with trusting the process and inconsistent sessions, well this can be draining. Also, we live by the motto of don’t take work home. If we are consistently engaging in therapeutic relationships everywhere, then when will we have time to just be us and engage in genuine girl talk or barbershop talk, never!
Lastly, talking is very draining because some people are not willing to stop talking or ending conversations within a decent amount of talk time. Most of our client sessions are 50 minutes and they often focus on a different topic or theme each week, so in most cases we are not listening to a client every week for 50 minutes about the same issue. It may come up and we may process for a few sessions but once we cross that hurdle, we begin tackling new obstacles. Next, therapy is not meant to be done with friends.
Here are some common solutions
Respect your friend’s boundaries, sometimes we just don’t want to talk
Be mindful of their time, remember we have clients that pay us an upwards of $100 per session and you are venting for free (I am not saying you can’t talk to us but I am saying people pay us to help them heal)
Limit your venting time (remember we listen to clients, spouses, coworkers if not in a solo space, friends and family) 10 minutes of fame is a good timeframe
Find a therapist, as therapist friends we are more likely to support you with finding someone
Respect your therapist friends’ boundaries
Write down a list of issues you would like to work through
Your friends are not your therapists!
Start with psychologytoday.com (this is a real and safe search tool for finding a therapist)