Counselors are not your friends. That relationship is a dynamic relationship unlike any other. It's not like talking to a friend, family member, bartender, or hair stylist.
Therapists will NOT give you advice, judge your feelings, talk about you behind your back, post about you on social media, get offended by something you say, or share their problems with you. Instead, therapy uses evidence-based techniques to diagnose and treat mental and emotional problems. There's a method to the therapeutic process that requires specialized education, training, and skill development.
Ethical therapists uphold boundaries to protect this unique relationship out of respect for you:
Therapist First - We do not provide services to family, friends, coworkers, neighbors, etc. In order to provide objective treatment, we cannot have a personal connection with our clients outside therapy.
Social Media - We will never look you up on social media. We trust you to tell us what you need us to know in order to help you. We will not connect with you on social media to maintain a professional relationship.
Socializing - As much as we may like our clients, we choose not to get drinks, meals, or attend parties with you. We prefer to uphold your confidentiality by not putting you in positions where you may need to explain who we are to other people. When we see you in public places, we leave it up to you whether you want to acknowledge us.
Dual Relationships - Things get messy when roles overlap. We will not hire you to provide services (e.g., mechanic, landscaper, cleaning, child care) even if we think your work is amazing.
Gifts - I cannot accept gifts from clients. It's sad because I love gifts, but often this can blur lines across boundaries, so we keep it simple and just don't accept gifts.
I really like my clients. I enjoy spending our time together and helping people with their problems. In order for me to be most helpful, it's my responsibility to maintain these boundaries. If you ever wonder about these boundaries or have concerns, you can always ask your therapist. We are not your friends, but your helper who is rooting for you to overcome your problems.