Therapists- just paid friends?

Paying For Friendship?

I recently read a very well-written blog that eloquently discussed how meeting with a psychologist is much more than just having a paid friend. The blog, written by Dr. David B. Feldman and published to, can be found here.

I saw the article and it made me recall the many times strangers who learned of my profession and clients alike have said something similar. Many clients I have worked with who had become isolated due to situational or emotional contexts have shared that their relationship with me was one of the most, and sometimes only, close relationship in their lives. As the therapeutic relationship is innately personal, it is not unusual for feelings of closeness to develop. This can be beneficial in making hard changes, but therapists are quite different from friends. 

Conversations with your therapist may, at times be light and feel friendly- this can even indicate a strong, therapeutic relationship. The major difference is, that therapists receive training and use various skills to inspire change and resolve problems. These strategies may be overt (e.g. your therapist assigning homework to move towards resolving an issue) or may be less obvious (e.g., your therapist using questions or feedback to help examine a concern). 

Another fairly stark difference between friends and a therapist is that, while supportive, therapists may challenge your thoughts and behaviors in a way that people do not often expect (or want!) from their friends.  It is not unusual for a therapist to notice actions/behaviors that are not conducive to a healthy lifestyle and challenge clients on how to modify or eliminate that behavior to get the intended change. It would be quite difficult if each time you opened up to a friend they pushed you to change, rather than provided support and comfort. 

Finding a therapist you feel comfortable with is imperative to successful therapy.  If you are looking for a therapist, you may try to find one who has a therapeutic style that works well with your personality. If you are already seeing a therapist and you feel that therapy is not successful, you may try having an open conversation with you therapist and share what may make therapy feel more productive for you. 

To read more about this, click here. for the original article. 

Image credit:  Conversation on flickr


TherapyKelly Anderson