Friendship Ruined Therapy

The therapist I have been working with for over five years has been amazing, we’ve dealt with some extremely emotional issues including PTSD sexual abuse and maternal narcissism.  She validated my feelings and showed the kind of empathy that I’d never received as a child, therefore, I’ve often craved her as a friend.  I soon understood boundaries, and realized it just wouldn’t work; therapy isn’t friendship

A friend told me of an occurrence where friendship ruined the relationship with her and her therapist.  She had been meeting X every 3 weeks for roughly 2 years, drudging through many agonizing, uncomfortable, personal issues and trusted X entirely with what she disclosed, more than with any other therapist.

When she was pregnant with her second child, also experiencing difficulties with her spouse, X was there to convey her thoughts to.  By the time the baby was to arrive, they worked through marital issues, which alleviated the situation at home and for her.

After the baby was born, she didn’t see X for several months, however, she did phone her to shout with joy that it was a baby girl, and X exclaimed “hooray!”  She was ‘on the fence’ about sending baby pictures, yet she did send a few via e-mail in the end and X asked to see more.

She called X, asked if she could drop them off at her office, but X suggested they meet for coffee, view the pictures and just have a chat the following week.  She became excited and this is where the client-therapist relationship started falling apart.

They only met for coffee a couple of times, but they kept a conversation going via e-mail frequently and she began sharing the day to day problems of her marriage, kids and family woes.  Surprisingly, X started sharing a wee bit of her personal life also, which had never been shared during their sessions, so she was beginning to feel a closeness to her more than ever.

A few months passed before she was in contact with X again, keeping her active with returning to work, a new baby, her other child, yet she knew she needed to revisit therapy once again.

The next appointment with X was just a chit-chat session, similar to a catch-up, and from there on, therapy just wasn’t therapy and realizing it couldn’t remain as therapy, she unfortunately, terminated what was a wonderful therapeutic relationship.

In my opinion, it was the fault of the therapist that ruined this therapy relationship.  Boundary issues.

(reposted with edits)

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I am a Mental Health Advocate for mental illness Stigma. In 2007, I created the "Living in Stigma" blog, with the purpose and anticipation of educating people about mental illness. Depression is part of this illness, which intertwines with those struggling with PTSD, chronic pain, and other invisible illnesses. I am a chronic migraine sufferer myself, and a sexual and emotional abuse survivor. My passions are writing, poetry, and art. All abuse Survivors are also Warriors.

8 thoughts on “Friendship Ruined Therapy”

  1. I agree. It’s important to keep remembering that a therapist is not your friend. This has pros and cons. For example: a therapist won’t cuddle you at night when you have terrible nightmares, even though you might need that. But there are people you can’t share ‘everything’ with and some people can do that with a therapist, because the therapist has a distance from your life and usually doesn’t get offended when you talk about your feelings. I think there are still things you “can’t” share with a therapist as well and can with friends or with your partner in life. Both friends and therapists can be very useful in your life, but this depends on you as an individual and them as individuals too.


    1. It’s difficult on both ends; you become close but you have to be smart and realize it just isn’t a friendship (one sided) and would never work out. Difficult not to crave it though if you’ve been treated like crap all of your life, but it’s a must for therapy to work.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Indeed, there can be a fine line between therapy and friendship. If your therapist becomes your friend (it does happen) you may be able to keep your new friend, but it’s time to seek a new therapist! Therapy and friendship don’t mix!


    1. Couldn’t agree more. It’s difficult to finally receive the validation and empathy that was missing from your parents, then all of a sudden it’s there and now feels wonderful. But, the therapeutic relationship as a friendship would be a disaster and would therefore end. Thanks for commenting.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I agree. I would be weirded out (though definitely flattered) if my therapist wanted a friendship with me. Transference can be powerful. I am going to be writing a post about transference maybe tonight or tomorrow, it might be on my other blog though, or I might post it to both. I haven’t decided yet.


  3. Makes sense to me. Part of the reason you want to see a therapist is to get a perspective where the emotion (but not empathy) is removed from the conversation. I think once you cross into that friendship boundary the objectivity is removed.

    Good post.


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