I am not a therapist

This is inspired in part by something going on in real life, that I will not talk in detail about here, because it’s not my thing to talk about, though it is affecting me in a way. It will be vague – but unless you know me in meatspace, it is certainly not about you. It is vague out of a desire to respect someone’s privacy, not out of any desire for passive-aggressive sniping.

I am not a therapist. Or a counselor. Or a mental health professional.

I am not trained in how to help someone through a crisis. I am not trained in how to help someone deal with addiction, or mental illness. I am not trained in teaching other people life skills.

I am fine with being a supportive friend. With being a sympathetic ear, with offering advice from my life experience when asked, and with offering my perspective on a situation if it’s desired.

But, to be responsible, I have to draw a line. I am not a therapist. I am not a counselor. I am not a mental health professional.

I cannot let people treat me as a substitute for one. It is not good for me: I am not trained in how to maintain my own mental health when someone else is relying on me to support them through a crisis on a regular basis, it interferes with my work and my life, and it is severely draining to me in particular because I am an emotion sponge and I pick it all up and then have to work to squeeze it all out again.

It is also not good for the other person: I am not a therapist, or a counselor, or a mental health professional. My thoughts, perspectives and advice are not coming with a professional’s depth of knowledge and experience. I could, for all I know, be giving counter-productive advice.

For both my sake and the sake of others having a hard time, I need to formally establish a boundary: I will be a good friend and comfort you if you’re in hard times. I will make food if you need it. I will help out with chores, or by offering distraction, or in a million other small ways if that’s welcome. But I will not be your therapist. I am not a therapist. Don’t try to turn me into one. It’s bad for both of us.

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One thought on “I am not a therapist

  1. psychtld says:

    Excellent.

    I’m trained in two kinds of counselling and even I won’t be anybody’s therapist in the sense you mean it in this post.

    Not many people are as responsible as you evidently are.

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