Did you know that Friendship can ruin Therapy?

The therapist I worked with for seven years was amazing, we 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 often craved her as a friend while in therapy.  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.

Her 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.

Written and copyrighted by Deb McCarthy

Boundary setting tips. Modification to 6 - set the boundary where your gut tells you, tight or loose is ok as long as it feels ok to you:

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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.

5 thoughts on “Did you know that Friendship can ruin Therapy?”

    1. Me too. I’m one of those people who finds something interesting, and I will dig and dig to find enough info that I understand what the topic is about. If I don’t understand it, how can I write a post about it (unless it’s a research article in medical jargon)? Re: The boundary issue I was searching for as much info as I could during therapy and was confused by the whole thing frankly, but I understand it now and it helped reading articles and mainly other blogger’s experiences until I got it through my thick skull! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s a sensitive issue for both the therapist and the client. With regards to PTSD, being traumatized and abused during childhood, you’re uncertain how you will react when someone you’ve been working with even attempts to give you a hug. I know with me, my mother rarely gave me a hug, so the odd time my therapist would hug me after a tough session, it felt wonderful. I didn’t trust anyone for many years, yet I felt comfortable enough to open my life up to this stranger and she felt trustworthy. She didn’t make a habit of it, so looking back I’m glad we set boundaries. Thanks for commenting and sharing. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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