(Closed) Being supportive vs being someone's therapist

posted 3 years ago in Emotional
Post # 2
Member
446 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: June 2018

I’m going to school for counseling… I’ve always been a friend to give advice when asked and just a listening ear, but I feel like it’s a 2-way street.  it doesn’t feel like I am the therapist and they are the client.  If it started to feel that way, I’d start setting some boundaries!

Where is the line?  I think it depends… do you feel more as a therapist than a friend?  I think that’s where the line is.  If you feel the friendship is becoming solely therapy sessions, then I’d say a line is crossed.  If that’s ALL you’re talking about is someone else’s problems and trying to help.

With friend #2, if this keeps happening, set up the boundary.  Tell the friend you do not feel it’s a friendship because you are giving all the time and feel emotionally exhausted.  That you want to be a friend, but feel like you’re being taken advantage of.

This is why most counseling associations’ ethics codes say don’t have dual relationships (counsel friends/family/etc).

Good luck!

Post # 3
Member
2600 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: October 2010

I couldn’t deal with friend #2, personally. 

I’ll give you the answer to both questions by answering #2: the line is where YOU draw it based on what your comfort level is as the listener/supportive friend. 

If you decide that the relationship is too difficult or too much of a drain on you, then draw the line. There is a great scene in SATC when Carrie is obsessing over a break-up and finally, her friends just sort of collectively say, “Yeah…We’re done. We’ve reached our limit with this. You need a therapist at this point because we can’t take it.” They’re not bad friends for doing so; nor are they unsympathetic people, it’s just there IS a point when the relationship causes resentment in another person and when that happens, you have to put up your boundaries. 

It’s probably nice to feel as though you are the one that everyone comes to for help, but it does get tiring, in the same way that it probably gets a little old if you’re the friend that everyone just wants to party with or you’re the friend that everyone just wants to shop with or whatever. But anyone who treats you JUST as a support structure isn’t really a true friend of yours. True friends are invested in YOU and they will understand if you tell them that the character of your friendship is exhausting and making you resentful. 

Post # 4
Member
2554 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: August 2014

modernboho:  I’m an MSW and I get this sometimes.  Honestly for those people who wish to use me for free counseling I’m intentionally not such a good listener.  When I’m talking to a client my questions are open ended and intentional, I draw out valuable information and guide the conversation in a therapeutic direction.  If you do that to a friend they might enjoy the attention but next thing you know it’s all you’re doing.  Don’t let it be all about them.  Focus the conversation on yourself at least a decent chunk of the time, and they’ll understand that you’re not only there to listen to them, they’re there to listen to you too.  You can still be there for them, but that can’t be all you do, or it’s only a matter of time before you find yourself avoiding them.  Counseling is exhausting, there’s a reason we get paid for it, I wouldn’t call it fun.  Hope that helps!

Post # 5
Member
1580 posts
Bumble bee

My personal line is whenever someone tries to put something on me solely, or asks me to not tell so and so etc.  I’ll just say oh you know I love you but I have to be clear I can’t offer that to you.  Darling Husband and I are happy to be supportive but thats’s our agreement.

Post # 6
Member
191 posts
Blushing bee
  • Wedding: August 2014

modernboho:  I think you have been more than supportive honestly.  I had relatives who always depended on me to listen but wouldn’t do the same for me. I’m talking calling at 3am in the morning over and over until I answered. Texting help and pretending they were in trouble but when I called they would say they were just bored. I finally told them I had to work on myself and then stopped answering their calls. I was confused, burnt out, felt guilty for not being there for them all the time but I couldnt. Finally a therapist/ good friend of mine told me I needed to set my boundaries with people like that. Although it may have seen mean at the time, our relationship is much better now. It also made them realize that they needed professional help. 

 

Good luck!!

Post # 7
Member
881 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: October 2006

modernboho:  

It’s harmful when the relationship is codependent and toxic. 

Helping others is wonderful but not to the detriment of your happiness. 

I know that I started to feel better when I let go of people who were constantly negative or complaining about problems which they created themselves. 

Be honest yet gentle when setting boundaries with the people you have mentioned. Let them know how much you care but you would rather have more fun together rather than talking about problems all the time. 

Post # 8
Member
881 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: October 2006

BothCoasts: 

I remember that episode! Carrie needed a counselor yesterday and not just because of Big. 

Post # 9
Member
928 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: May 2011

I have no suggestions other than to start sending them bills for your time. I’ll bet that would solve the problem super fast. 😉

Post # 10
Member
2600 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: October 2010

mrswhitecat:  Don’t get me started on Big. Too many nights shouting, “Why Carrie, WHY??”

(I know it’s a show and they have to drum up the drama, but can you imagine what the bees would say if someone posted to the “waiting” board about an SO who did all the things that Big did to Carrie? We’d be like, “Nope. Run. Run away–and preferably in the direction of a therapist”!)

Post # 11
Member
112 posts
Blushing bee

Agree with jennmariee, focusing the conversation back to you gives them a subtle nudge that it’s not all about them, and helps keep the relationship in a give-and-take patten. Or – I know this is hard – ignore complaining you don’t want to hear by either redirecting the conversation or ending the conversation. You mentioned wanting to be supportive but not burn yourself out. I get that but I also think most serial complainers don’t really want support, they just want someone to rehash all their thoughts to who will make vaguely affirmative noises – you think they’re complaining, they think they’re just telling you the state of the world; you think they’re your close friend because you hear about all their problems, they think you’re like the random waitress but on speed dial. Sure, a meaningful relationship would allow ranting and raving – but it has to be ranting and raving from both parties. Or say if ranting and raving is not one person’s style – they should still feel like they are allowed their ranting and raving moments if they ever decide to channel their frustrations in that manner. Ask yourself this: what am I getting out of these friendships? And it’s not wrong to enjoy being the “counselor”, I think it is natural to enjoy feeling like you are needed. But if these friendships are causing you more stress than what they’re worth, then it’s OK to let go.

Post # 12
Member
881 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: October 2006

BothCoasts:  

I loved Charlotte the most. She’s the one I had the most in common with. I thought that Trey would have been a perfect fit if it wasn’t for Bunny and changing his mind about having kids. I never liked Charlotte with Harry as I thought he was too crass and Charlotte took a huge risk in converting to Judaism. What if he didn’t end up marrying her after all of that? 

Carrie was foolish and selfish. I was so mad when she cheated on Aidan with Big. 

Samantha was a bit too wild and irresponsible for my taste. I also thought it was terrible of her to dump Smith when he stayed with her through cancer. 

Miranda was overly harsh and bitter. She softened after she had Brady and married Steve. I always thought that if Miranda married, it would be to a doctor or maybe another lawyer. 

I know SATC was a show but I loved the characters and the archetypes they represented.

I hated both films. 

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