Should you be friends with your therapist, healer, shaman, mental health support person or coach?
Should you be friends with your Therapist, Healer, Shaman, Mental Health Support Person or Coach ?
No. It’s generally not advised for many reasons. Healthy Relationships between Therapist, Healers, and Coaches are not like a mutual two-way friendship. When leaning on a support person, the relationship should make you feel emotionally safe, supported, encouraged, built on respect, kindness and care. There should be honesty, transparency, no pushiness, and they should display healthy boundaries by letting you know how healing sessions and coaching sessions will proceed. There should be limits. They should show up on time and be punctual and always deliver what they promise. I have found while these relationships can be extremely helpful, they are not always the best for teaching you how to have the best friendships or relationship skills because these relationships are generally one sided. The support person not asking for mutual emotional support or advice from the client, but giving it. A healthy friendship is about give and take.
If there are boundary issues happening you may need to find another person to work with. A therapist, healer, and coach is generally just there for you. I have had this situation come up several times and once failed at this big time learning lessons as a new coach, but I painfully learned my lesson. I failed to be assertive enough with a very pushy client that would call, text, email, voice incessantly outside of our scheduled agreed upon times. I told her we were not friends many times, but this only aggravated her and made her more pushy and manipulative. I learned from this experience! And I no longer allow this to happen. Another boundary issue came up again last night, so I thought I would address it as many of the people following me or anyone new to their healing journey struggling to overcome an abusive childhood and a series of abusive relationships may struggle in understanding what a healthy boundary is or what a healthy relationship is. If you don’t know what a boundary is or don’t have healthy boundaries, you may find assertive people with healthy boundaries extremely rude or too direct. Not having boundaries can create all kinds of conflict in your life.
So what’s the difference in a relationship with a support person your paying for and a friendship? A support person is someone you have hired to provide you a service dedicated to your growth and needs, it’s one sided. A friendship is a two-way street built on mutual respect, mutual sharing, mutual interest, mutual give and take. It can only exist when there is healthy boundaries, clear communication, and trust is built over time and both people are able to lean on each other for mutual emotional support and sharing. At the heart of any healthy friendship is a mutual interest and respect. At the heart of a healthy relationship with someone your paying for is professionalism, you enjoy their service or product and feel its providing something of quality and value to your life. A good support person can change your life and help you grow heal and evolve tremendously, but your not there to provide the same service for them. Healthy direct communication should also be a key feature in both relationships.
Healthy friendship are built on mutual interest, commonality, desire, trust, a sense of safety, it should be fun and pleasurable, it should add to your quality of life. It should feel equal and you should be able to be your real self. I have learned the hard way that I cannot be friends with my clients for numerous reasons; mainly, because it is unprofessional and unhealthy because it becomes a one way relationship with major power differences. What you tell me in sessions is highly private and personal and may not be something we would necessarily discuss in a new friendship or even a long friendship. Highly traumatized people need to feel safe and may not want to talk about highly painful memories because it may be triggering. You should not bring up stories without permission out of the blue because it can re-traumatize a person. Sharing highly personal information; stories of fear, shame, and trauma are not always stories you tell to just anyone or bring up at any time of day. If I have been helping you or coaching you; I will know way more about you than you know about me. Because I blog about so many personal stories many people feel I am an open book, but thats not the case. I only share things I feel comfortable sharing. A good therapist, a good healer, a good coach is a one way relationship. We are your support team and it helps to have healthy boundaries around such a sacred relationship.
I’ve been on the other end of the spectrum as well.
I highly value my healers and therapist I work with. But I’ve also had some healers that were amazing, but very unprofessional! I had to part ways with them because they insisted on being friendly with me and displayed many inappropriate boundary violations. This particular person I loved going to for healing but I did not necessarily feel I had enough in common with him to be friends. Conversations were awkward and uncomfortable. He would never agree to specific times, he insisted on giving tons of free work and would call me stupid if I said no thank you. His giving didn’t always come with strings but sometimes they did. He had helped me open up emotionally in the places I was the most traumatized and helped me heal more sexual abuse trauma energy, but then would send me sexually inappropriate and weird jokes, make strange remarks, racist comments and mock my culture and our food. I confronted him numerous times on numerous occasions and gave him numerous chances but he didn’t understand why I was so uptight? After numerous incidents and tries, I decided to block him, and yet he still kept calling and messaging. Can you see why that’s a bit weird and inappropriate? It’s too bad, because he is such a talented energy healer I learned so much from and damb I miss his services, I was always very happy to pay for!! He was amazing and talented. It’s important to know that a person can be an amazing healer, coach, doctor, attorney and provide an amazing service for you, and be an amazing person but they not be friend material. Especially mental health professionals and healers!! Some other reasons you can like a persons services but not want to be their friend; their personality triggers you, you don’t have anything in common, you don’t share mutual interest, you may not agree with their values, Age, Culture, Political, Religious differences, Language Barriers. These are all very important things to have in common for deep and lasting relationships!
Another reason it can be harder to be close friends with someone that hasn’t done their deep inner work or that is new in their trauma recovery is:
Because you can only meet people as deeply as they have met themselves. I understand now why my first romantic relationship didn’t work out and why my ex boyfriend and I struggled to communicate. This took me so many years to understand. As I have done extensive healing on myself for 20 years and done so much inner work and made so many changes I now have a harder time getting emotionally close and being close friends with a trauma survivor that is at the beginning of their healing journey. I’m amazing at helping other trauma survivors with strict boundaries, but close friendships can be difficult! And let me tell you why. We may be at different places in our capacity for mutual intimacy and connection. Many traumatized people new on their journey may have massive trust issues, cannot be honest, have walls up, be non communicative, closed off and be very hard to get close too. I have worked so hard to be more securely attached!! I’m very open now to let love in, capable of intimacy, heart to hearts, I’m free with my feelings, honest, have healthy boundaries, I can give and take, I give hugs freely, I am assertive and direct, I am not an open book, but I don’t have massive walls up. I know how to let them down with people I want to be friends with. I have an immense amount of self love, self compassion, and respect for myself.
So how does that impact friendship? Well the way you treat yourself your level of self love and care you show yourself is also the level of love and care you will be able to show others.
An early trauma survivor new to their healing journey generally still has no clue who they are and may not feel worthy of love or be able to trust anyone. Which means there is no reciprocity. They either do all the taking or giving or don’t participate at all. While I see all of you as being absolutely worthy, beautiful, and deserving of love, You are !! You are !!!! You may still have a mean inner critic, be extremely harsh and cruel to yourself, be dissociated, numb, distant, closed off and emotionally unavailable. If your abusive to yourself you might have cruel and judgmental harsh opinions about others. If you have trust issues and think everyone is out to hurt you your going to have a harder time letting anyone in. You may see conflict when there is none. Or you could have the other survival adaptation style and have a non existent sense of self and be stuck in people pleasing patterns and totally deny yourself and not know how to lean on others or feel your worthy of love which means you don’t know how to give and take and may struggle with being honest and direct. Will be talking more about attachment styles as I have just learned this terminology but understand deeply because I have lived it and healed through. it. It can feel painful and lonely to try and get close to a person stuck in those early childhood survival patterns that doesn’t know how to let love in.
Do we both understand boundaries in the same way?
If you are new to the recovery process , you may also struggle, not have the best boundaries, may not know how to get your needs met in healthy ways and struggle with emotional maturity, manipulation, play games, hold grudges, have anger management skills, or not know how to be direct and assertive. I struggled with all of that immensely, so I do know how pervasive and deep early childhood trauma can impacts us. I can honestly say I was an emotionally exhausting person and was difficult to deal with in many of my romantic relationships for many years I have improved tremendously. I am sure I did tons of baffling and infuriating things. I drained people constantly with the huge unmet emotional needs, trauma, and unending list of issues you cannot blame me for having, so I get it. I’m so proud of the work I have done on myself. That’s why trauma specialist, healers, therapist, coached, and mental health specialist like me do this work. Because we have been there and know how much work and how difficult we can be to help and have been there!! The fact that I can openly see that and admit that is progress. I still have things that can traumatize me immensely and cause flashbacks, I still have symptoms I am working through even though I have healed extensively so that is why boundaries are so immensely important for me and the public that wants to interact with me and the clients that I work with. When we follow the guidelines and rules things go much smoother.
When I first began my healing journey in my 20’s, I was so shut down not even my boyfriends could get close to me mentally or emotionally. I had massive intimacy issues. Intimacy is IN TO ME I SEE, it’s not necessarily sexual. I had huge walls up and could not communicate!! I never asked for help, I never asked for anything so I know very well what that’s like and I can help you as a healer, guide, and coach to get to the other side of that. It was so hard to get close to people because of such severe interpersonal trauma. I think for CPTSD Survivors we struggle immensely with being unable to let anyone in or we let in the wrong people. As the years passed I’ve had to let go of a lot of old friendships because I had outgrown them. The more you evolve and grow the harder it will be to maintain friendships with people that have not been on the same journey of inner growth. I will be writing about that all in my book all the things I healed from.
So these are my thoughts, would love to hear what you have to say!