I just posted a question on a Facebook forum that asks other therapists how they handle the phenomenon of having other people (non-clients) ask if we are analyzing them or telling us mid-conversation, “Oh, you’re doing XYZ because you’re a therapist.” This can feel particularly daunting when we therapists are just getting to know someone. How do we convince our friends, family, dates that our therapist hats are checked at the door?
When this happens to me, it makes me feel like the other person imagines I have SO much of my own stuff figured out that I somehow retain the bandwidth to figure out his/hers as well. Clients pay for that bandwidth. Friends, family – dates?! Do not.
Non-clients – rest assured! We therapists are still figuring it out, just like you. It takes energy to do the work we do well – staying aware of OUR stuff, while paying attention to and being curious about our clients’ stuff. I’m lucky to have had amazing therapists and teachers and mentors who remind me – there IS an art and a SKILL to what we do, and we can’t do it, 24/7. We certainly aren’t aiming to do it when we’re unwinding at happy hour or going on a date with you. I personally relish the time I spend with the non-clients I choose to bring into my life. I look more forward to what they can teach me about themselves and ME, than what I might be able to analyze about them.