anonymous asked:

How do you turn off the "therapist"! in you? I just started learning skills and I notice myself slipping into using them accidentally. Also my friends have been disclosing some concerning things to me and I feel so bad but there's nothing I can do?? Thank you! :)

Hi there! Whew I think every first year grad students asks themselves this question haha I know I did - so I will do my best to answer it! 

Honestly, your training will change how you interact with others - that’s just how it is! It just becomes a part of you.  You’ll especially find that you will be a better listener.  I can offer how I approach it, but honestly it’s going to have to be something that you navigate and figure out how you want to approach it!  

Let me ask you this - is it so bad to help out your friends? By providing them a safe place to talk to you about their problems and allowing them to feel listened to and truly heard, I’d say you are being a pretty good friend.  It sounds like what you are having a hard time with is making sure you aren’t going into therapy mode with them.  It’s true, you are not their therapist.  Ethically speaking, you are not licensed and are not qualified to be a therapist to your friends.  Plus, that’s definitely entering dual roles.  Whenever I talk to my friends and they’re disclosing tough things to me, I try to truly listen to them and provide them a safe, empathetic space to express themselves.  But I also make sure that I’m on their side (unless they are being harmful to themselves or others, in which case I’d probably express my concern) - “yeah, that does suck! I’m so sorry!” because a lot of the time, your friends are looking for someone on their team, not a therapist to challenge their maladaptive thoughts or cognitive distortions.  Make them feel heard and cared about, that’s what’s important.  When a friend tells you some pretty concerning things, you can offer resources or ideas, or things you would do, and offer your empathy, but ultimately they’re the ones that have to decide what to do about their situation.  

I don’t think it’s a bad thing to utilize some of the skills you are gaining.  After all, you’re learning how to communicate and interact with people in a better way! It’s just a matter of how you use it.  There’s also a huge difference between using your microskills - listening, reflection, etc - and like, trying a CBT technique on them lol. Recognizing that difference is really important.  You don’t want to alienate them.  Also doing real therapy is truly exhausting mentally because you are so tuned in to the person you are working with.  You don’t want to do that every time a friend talks to you.  

You’ll likely end up talking about this in your intervention classes and probably ethics as well - I know we did in our first year.  Bring it up in class!  I’m sure others are having that same internal struggle and it’s helpful to talk about it with your colleagues and professors.  I hope this was helpful and made sense! 

edit: whoops this ended up being way longer than i realized hahaha

  • Therapist:And why would you like to see a therapist? Anxiety or depression or...?
  • My brain:I am a manic person who has really high highs and really low lows. I have a fear of abandonment so I sabotage my relationships when I sense they are going to leave me. I ruin it or I leave before they can. I idealize people until they upset me then I hate them but I still don't want them to leave me. I am often repulsed by sex for periods of time and then other times I'm horny as fuck a while. Sometimes I feel all I am good for is sex. Sometimes I want to die. Sometimes I want to live. My identity changes daily or hourly. I need lots of attention. When I get upset I am self destructive as fuck.
  • Me:Haha, yeah, anxiety and depression works...see you Monday!