do you consider your shrink a friend?

I hate making my first post something of this nature. But somehow, in this city of millions, I have absolutely no one to talk to. So here’s my post of angst:

I saw my shrink today. Well, my ex-shrink. Our sessions started this past fall, and over the course of five months, I grew very fond of her. After all, when there’s no one else, your shrink is your trusted friend and your closest confidant. In many ways, she was the only one who cared and listened, even if only for a hour a week. bitter smile But still, I became quite attached to her. With her being only 26, and we occasionally flirted, so I even entertained the idea of dating her for a while. (Of course, she was ruled by professional ethics, and I respected that. ) The therapies stoped about a month ago, even though we didn’t see each other again, it was very comforting to think that she cared, and if I ever needed to talk, I can always go to her. In my mind, she had became my closest friend.

I saw her while eating lunch today: her sweet smile, her blonde, curly locks, and that slightly peculiar denim jacket from The Gap. I walked over and said hi. Idle chit-chat followed. It felt ironic for her to ask me how I’ve been, when she knew the answer fully. Then, I asked her to join me at the table.

“Thank you for the offer, but I can’t, and I think you know why, Panmarblic.”

Like a million times before, I tilted my head to the right and gave her a puzzled look.

“Because of our relationship in therapy, we have to maintain a certain amount of distance. Still, it was nice seeing you.”

“Yeah, nice seeing you too.”

I thought she was my friend. I thought I could have a pleasant lunch with the one person in this city who understood me. But no. One hour a week; No more, no less. I was sick to my stomach. Having lost all appetites, I picked up my food and walked out. There’s a fountain outside the restaurant. I sat down in front of it, still chewing that last bite of a roast beef sandwich. Too much mustard… Across from me sat an Asian couple, probably freshman, judging from their innocent and slightly nauseating embrace. It was a perfect setting to contemplate my most recent “loss”.

I felt betrayed. Wait… maybe that’s not the right word. I mean, I had unreal expectations, and I should’ve known that she and I couldn’t be friends. But still, it still hurt to think that we weren’t close at all. In fact, it hurt a lot, because now I have no one. She seemed so different in therapy. She’s almost like a cruel reminder of what can be but what I’m forever denied. I cried for the first time in months. Then, like some third rate made-for-tv drama, it started to rain. It was a lovely afternoon to walk home…

Yup, that’s what happens with shrinks. Think about it this way though, if your shrink was your friend you wouldn’t listen to them. I mean do you pay your friends to listen to you? No, because they’re your friends and you wouldn’t listen to their advice anyway.

Hmm…Me thinks my brain needs to shut down for it’s daily 10 hour “blank” phase…

I just wanted to point out that I thought the title was:

"Do you consider shrinking friends?"

Sorry you have no one. At least keep posting to the boards.

Your relationship with your shrink was a professional one. That’s why you paid for it. She is specifically trained not to spend time with patients outside of work. It’s just the way it is.

Why did you stop therapy? I’m not trying to be rude - it just sounds as though you may still have some things to work on.

As to the OP, no a shrink is not your friend. They are someone that listens to you because you pay them - that doesn’t mean they don’t care - it just means that they are doing a job. Think of them like a hairdresser or mechanic - you pay them and they provide a service.

It has to be that way for the therapists own sanity. You shouldn’t consider this a slight against you as a person or your likeablity.

Anyhow, hang in there - I hope things get better for you.


They can’t be your friends. It’s a conflict of interest.

That doesn’t mean they don’t LIKE you, or care. My psychiatrist is always commenting how much time has gone by-gee, I can’t believe it-when you first started coming here you were only 18, now you’re almost out of college, etc.

But other than that, no, they can’t be your “friend.”

I never feel comfortable around my shrink. He’s just the guy who asks how my meds are doing, writes me a few 'scripts and I’m on my way. Pretty formulaic.

Have you considered maybe seeing a male therapist?

Then you wouldnt be likely to have a problem like this.
It’s easy to get a crush on a shrink, because they listen to you and act compassionately, but it really is a professional relationship.

Think about it- you know nothing about her outside of her life as Your Shrink.

It’s similar to having a crush on a rock star.

I’m sorry it had to hurt, though.


I’m sorry you hurt, panmarblic, but no, your shrink isn’t really your friend. As the others have said, they get paid to provide a service. Because of that, your shrink will really have to keep her distance from now on.

My shrink isn’t my friend. He’s nice, compassionate, concerned and caring, and I like him a lot. But no, I don’t consider him a friend. He’s a professional, trained to help me with my problems and find the drugs that will work best to alleviate my clinical depression. And, praise Deity, he’s doing the job *I hired him to do. * I didn’t hire him to be my friend. I hired him to help me deal with a chronic medical condition.


Hope you get to feeling better soon.

It’s easy to do, though. Mine was consistently comparing my troubles with how she handled it when it happened to her. We had similar likes, dislikes, hobbies, etc.

Makes for kind of a cosmic connection, no?

I’ve just finished therapy and can understand the “professional” relationship; however…

I felt it wasn’t really going any where. It’s nice to discover the root of my problems and all, but there wasn’t any way to fix anything. So I stopped. Also, it was free since she works for my school’s counseling center. She is a certified psychiatrist, because of the less formal nature of the counseling center, I thought there’d be a bit more “outside contact” between the counselors and the students. You are right that there has to be some distance, but what about the Patch Adams type, where there’s a VERY close relationship between the doctor and the patient? Oh well… I’ll keep drifting through life. btw, how much do psychiatrists usually cost?

Be very grateful to her. She did the exactly correct thing. I have a friend who’s therapist became her ‘friend’ and as a result, she spent thousands over a course of several years for her ‘therapy’, for naught.

THey’d have dinner together, exchange gifts, go to movies etc.

very, very bad. I tried to get her to file charges on the shrink (it bothers me to know that she’s still seeing patients).

As a result, my friends ‘therapy’ went no where, it cannot, if there’s a personal relationship as well.

My psychologist throughout my childhood through my early twenties was my friend. She would buy me birthday presents every year, sometimes she drove me home from our appointments (I took a bus from school to her office once a week, and sometimes my mom forgot to pick me up)

She even came to my wedding. She and another psychologist friend bought us a microwave together.

I think, however, that in the vast majority of cases, therapists do keep a distance. They have to. Don’t take it personally.

Well, I think child therapists would be different-mine was really nice and would take me for walks and we’d go get ice cream when I was there.

However, when you’re older, it’s like they have to remain a distance-other wise, a friendship would endanger things. They’d be involved on a PERSONAL level, and couldn’t be objective and unbiased.

Her mistake was not explaining to you what it meant to end your professional relationship. My therapist very specifically told me that we would NOT be able to be friends; we would NOT be able to have lunch together; I would NOT be able to call her up to chat, etc.

I felt annoyed and betrayed when she said it, but she made the rules and the reason for them very clear, so I was prepared to cut off all contact with her once therapy ended.

If you feel that you still have issues to work out, even though your therapy with this woman “wasn’t going anywhere”, maybe you need to try another therapist. Sometimes it can take a few tries to find one who is right for you. And remember, the point of therapy is not to “fix” things, it’s to learn to deal with them in a more constructive, healthier, happier way.

In the meantime, you need to let go of this particular therapist and your relationship with her. She was absolutely right to turn down your lunch invitation.

It’s not like panmarblic asked her on a date. He just asked to share a table with her. And he’s not her patient any more. Are professional ethics the same with psychiatrists as with professors? I once shared a food court table with a former professor (I was still a student). (In light of a current thread in the Pit, I should add that this was not any kind of dating situation.)

I once saw, or thought I saw, a therapist of mine (I’ve had several) in an arcade. (Not a video arcade; a stores/offices arcade.) This person walked past me without acknowledging me. Thinking I’d been snubbed, I decided to dog him (logical, since I was in therapy for anger issues), and finally intercepted him at the newsstand, only to find it was a totally different person, with the same hairstyle and a similar coat.

Also, another therapist sent me a congratulatory note when I had a story published in the local freebie.


She may not have known panmarblic felt as he does. I’m not sure she was “right” to turn panmarblic away from her table, but she did explain herself, when the subject came up.

If I remember Introduction to Clinical Psychology correctly, ethics proscribe any nonprofessional contact between a therapist and client after their therapeautic relationship ends. The figure the professor mentioned was five years, though I don’t know if that is universal or if it varies across situations. His example was “If a woman comes to me for help in quitting smoking and she’s someone I would want to date, we can’t for five years.”

I was an undergrad research assistant this semester and we were trained to give structured clinical interviews. The project (which was never carried out and is a rant for elsewhere) involved asking volunteer intro to psych students about their drug use, depression and anxiety. The grad student in charge told us we might want to let participants know that if we saw them on campus, we wouldn’t acknowledge them unless they acknowledged us. The purpose is to avoid situations that would make them, or in real life a patient, uncomfortable. For example, if a participant was sitting around with friends and an interviewer waved and said hello, the participant’s friends would then ask “Who’s that person?” If the person wants to tell their friends about their clinical interview, it should be their business.

Nope, he’s not my friend.

Then again, I only see him for half an hour every couple of months, while he asks me how classes are going, and if my OCD is still under control.

Fionn is right. Our ACA code of ethics has strict proscriptions on relationships with clients. Two to five years after conclusion of therapy is the acceptable time period. That, of course, is for therapists who actually have a desire to hang out with/date their clients. Frankly, the thought of dating any of my clients makes me a bit wiggy, though I suppose it would depend on the diagnosis.

Both Mr. Kitty and I have a standard disclaimer. I am not your friend. I am not your buddy, your pal, or any such thing. I am your pit bull in your fight against mental illness. I will not acknowledge you outside of therapy unless you approach me first. There is no gift exchange, I can’t come to your kid’s birthday party, and please don’t ask me to dinner.

I have a therapist now who I envision as me in about 30 years. It’s creepy how alike we are. And although she has openly admitted that she likes me and looks forward to our sessions, I don’t see us hanging out after I’m finished. She’s a tool. A nice tool, with a great perspective, but a tool nonetheless.


Got to jump in here.

I’m lucky enough to have found a gay shrink. (And even luckier that in Canada, psychiatric care is covered by Medicare - I mean, he is an MD, so why not?)

Anyway, he’s pretty cool, and being gay (like me) he doesn’t try to make the gay thing into some issue like some shrinks might. In fact, he understands me even more because we share being gay. What’s more, he can suggest places I can go, and often keeps me abreast of gay bars closing and opening. (LOL)

However, I happen to know what bar he hangs out at (it’s actually a leather place - who would’ve thunk it?), and were I ever to run into him there (me in a leather bar? HA!) or in the Village, I don’t know what I’d do or say. It would just be weird.

Besides, he knows way too much about me. :wink:

  • s.e.