What To Do If Your Friend Is Treating You Like Their Personal Therapist
It's virtually impossible to reject a friend in need when they come to you for advice.
Being there for one another is probably what brought you guys together in the first place, and the last thing you want to do is push the person away.
However, a friend who constantly piles their issues onto your lap isn't doing your friendship any justice.
Plus, if their problems are of a more serious nature (suicidal thoughts, abuse, etc.), it might be time to broach the subject of seeking professional help.
Here are a few ways to handle a friend who's treating you like a therapist.
1. Take time to make sense of your feelings before talking to them.
If your friend is treating you like you're their therapist, that means the two of you are probably spending a LOT of time together.
There's no need to ghost your friend, but you may want to gather your own thoughts about the situation before talking to your friend about maybe seeking the option of therapy.
If you've been to therapy yourself before, you may have some helpful insight to offer her about its benefits. If not, you can still stay supportive and nonjudgmental with whatever choice your friend makes; just make sure you clear your head before approaching her with the suggestion.
2. Help them find a real therapist.
You may not be a therapist, but you probably know how to find one.
First, talk to your friend about the realistic possibility of seeing a therapist.
If they're down to try it, help your friend figure out what type of health insurance they have, and if they have any therapists in their network.
If they don't have insurance, there are other viable options. Some clinics will allow patients to pay on a sliding scale, meaning the price will depend on the person's income.
Federally funded health centers can also be a great resource for those constrained by a limited budget.
3. If they agree to go therapy, offer to go to the first session with them.
As helpful as therapy can be, it can be an intimidating experience the first time you go. You have no idea what to expect, and it can be daunting to think about telling a complete stranger your innermost thoughts and struggles.
If your friend is freaked out about it, tell them you'll come along for the first session, and any session after, until they feel comfortable going alone.
A familiar face can't hurt, and they'll recognize the effort you're making to stay involved in their life.
4. Assure them you're looking out for their best interest.
At first, your friend might feel like you're distancing yourself from the relationship by admitting you can't always help them.
However, it's important to explain all of your actions are coming from a place of love, and you only want what's best for them.
It might even help to be a little self-deprecating during these conversations, too. Admit what you don't know.
But definitely tell them you do know just how much you love them and your friendship.
5. Above all, remind them you'll always be there for them, no matter what.
It's not going to be easy to admit to your friend you can't give them all the help they need.
But, that doesn't mean you're not still a confidante they can count on, or that you don't have an ear to lend when life gets especially tough.
Tell your friend all of this as straightforwardly as you can. Just because you've acknowledged you're not a professional, that doesn't mean you're no longer a friend.
If they love you and truly value the friendship, they'll understand where you're coming from.
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