Sometimes, it’s easier to find a good friend than a good therapist.
There have certainly been instances where clients can feel the lines between friendship and profession blur with their therapist. Therapy has many similarities to a friendship, where your therapist will exude positivity and a general regard for your well-being. It’s easy to believe that you’ve developed a close relationship with your therapist when you spend all your time with them, exclusively talking about personal subjects. The nature of this relationship, however, is imbalanced by the fact that it is one-sided.
Friendship on the other hand, is two-sided. It’s built of shared experiences and personal topics that extend beyond what would be limited to within a room with a therapist. When it comes to whether therapists are allowed to be friends with their clients, the answer is technically yes. The question that needs to be asked is, should therapists be friends with their clients?
The answers vary with every person who is asked, prompting ethical debates and personal opinions that leaves the issue at a crossroads, till this date.
Therapists tend to not develop a dual relationship so that a composite discussion and exploration of the clients troubles can properly take place. This avoids personal conflicts between them and the possibility of transference and countertransference. The primary focus must always entail the client’s interests. Personal obligations can derail the objective nature of the help that therapy provides.
Traditional therapy is generally meant to have a beginning, a middle and an end. Marking the end of the therapy will give you a sense of fulfillment, along with the confidence and self-esteem you’ll need to move on to the next step of your life. When your therapy ends, so does your relationship with your therapist.
RTT is similar in this sense. The friendly nature of your therapist is certainly an added bonus when you’re going to open yourself up vulnerably to hypnosis.
Former therapists may be friendly, but they hardly cross the boundaries into full-blown friendship. With time, you’ll come to learn that it’s better that way. The safety you feel when you open up to a therapist can easily be misconstrued as a bond of friendship.
Being friends with someone who has helped you out that way can make you feel overly obligated to them - in a way that you owe them a favour, cannot say “no” to them or give them your honest unbiased opinion. The roles will blur and lead to conflict within yourself, which can deter your healing process.
Since mental and emotional well-being can ebb and flow, you may need your therapist later. Outside of therapy, wouldn’t you feel conflicted to be yourself truly to your therapist? Think of it this way - you’ve shared your deepest secrets and fears and given a lot of power over yourself to them. That can tend to be a giant elephant in the room.
All you need to think about is what will be the best for your overall healing and choose wisely.
Another question you can ask yourself is “Do I need to be friends with my therapist?”. You can have friends and therapists separately, but do you really want to take on the burden of derailing your healing process? There is no requirement that requires therapists not to befriend their clients, so ultimately - the decision is in your hands.