Hello, Beautiful Thinkers...
You’ve found someone who knows how to listen to you, like, really, deeply listen to you and make you feel safe, understood, accepted and validated. It’s this beautiful hour you have together and you come out feeling elated, even when it’s been a hard session full of tears because you’ve felt so listened to.
You might also have found out a few things about your therapist, like things you have in common – a love of books, sailing, or travelling on trains.
You realise that your therapist might be the best friend you’ve always wanted!
Or, if not even that, you just want to give back. Thank them for all their help – give them a present or invite them to the wedding that wouldn’t have happened without their help!
Or, you might even have developed romantic feelings for them. Without all the hardships you’ve had, romantically, isn’t it possible that this therapist is your dream person? The one that makes you feel so good about yourself, who understands all your shortcomings but doesn’t make you feel bad about them and who you can trust to be fully open and honest with.
But, how to bring this up?
I’m really sorry to be the one to tell you that you don’t.
Even if you feel sure that the therapist feels the same way (and to be honest, often we do!)
Why not then?
The short answer – it’s not ethical.
But that’s not a very satisfying answer, right? Because what does that even mean?
It will mean different things to different people.
If you’re what would be termed a ‘vulnerable person’ you might be easy to take advantage of and a bad and unethical therapist might do exactly that. If they accept your invitation for friendship, social engagement or a romantic relationship, they are most likely predators in disguise as a caring professionals.
And if they offer friendship, socialising or, worse, sex or romance, they are definitely out to harm you.
But, why can’t you be friends with the good therapists? The ones that really have your best interest at heart?
For one, you don’t actually know them. A therapist – a good therapist – won’t share much or anything of themselves in sessions. So, what you’re liking so much about them isn’t really about them but how they make you feel. Therapists will be highly opinionated and emotional beings outside of the therapy room so where you might find them highly compassionate and kind and understanding and accepting, they might not be in their private lives.
Also, what do you think happens when the attention is no longer on you in the friendship but you have to hear them complain about their family, partners and friends? Are you up for supporting them too and do you think you can hold them in the same high regard once you see them as the flawed human that they are?
You might also, temporarily, forget that they know a lot about you and your personal and private life. Do you really want them to mingle with your friends and family with everything they know? To be in the same room as your partner when they know intimate details about your sex life? To be face-to-face with your best friend when the therapist knows you’ve slept with her partner behind her back?
Do you think it’ll feel good when everything that makes therapy so special – the confidentiality, the safe space, the undivided attention on you, the privacy of sessions – is now no more and you start to share a space outside of the therapy room? What now, when your therapist has a right, as your friend, to comment on your life and life decisions? To offer advice based on their own life, as normal friends do? When they know far more about you than you do them?
And, obviously, there’s no going back either. If you allow a therapist into your private life (which is sometimes common within the coaching world) you can’t go back to having a one-sided, therapeutic relationship later and you’ll have to find a new therapist.
Thank you for reading. I hope you enjoyed this article. If you did, or didn't, or want to add something or have a question, feel free to comment below (but try and be kind about it - I'm a terribly sensitive soul).
Don't forget that this is just my opinion. You don't have to agree. These pieces of writing are just here to make you think and take from it what you like and find helpful and ignore the rest. At the end of the day, it's your life and, therefore, what you consume, what you believe, and what you think and feel is your choice.
Also, this article has been brought to you by a perfectly imperfect, flawsome dyslexic. I hope any potential spelling or grammar mistakes didn't take away from your enjoyment.
Meandering thoughts about life and the meaning of everything, from a know-it-not-all!