I can’t remember how many times I have been asked this question… Before I begin, let me introduce myself! My name is Eva and I’m one of the greatest fans when it comes to friendship and the power of it! I strongly believe that friendship forms one of the most important relationships in people’s lives, and often when this is not the case, it inevitably becomes part of the therapeutic discource I have with my clients.
For the purpose of this post, I take for granted friends’ intentions in helping us out, their true empathic stance together with their undivided attention! I sincerely believe that they are here to help us out, in every way they can, especially when the person facing the problem has decided to reach out and be open about it.
One of the most important ideas that everyone should bear in mind is the idea of the duration and the impact of the problem on people’s lives and relationships with other important people. So one should always be thoughtful whether there is a need to consult with a professional or whether there is a need to put a label/ diagnosis on each presenting issue.
Let’s assume that by listening to our friends, we have managed to feel better and balanced again… however what happens in the instance when a friend’s suggestion might not be enough to enable us to appreciate and understand the nature and the cause of the problem? What happens then?
What happens when you get confused by having to decide among various friends’ suggestions? Who is right and who is wrong?
First of all, the most important thing that you need to remember is the fact that everyone has been influenced by his own experiences/culture/ belief system/ coping system which determine the end result for everyone…. What that means is that not everyone is “equipped” or ready to have an opinion on everything; or on the contrary they may feel ready to express their opinion bearing in mind their own prejudices, their own ideas, without necessarily having realised the “bigger picture”, etc…
However, the therapist’s job involves having the skills (after having completed several degrees and having most of the times undergone personal therapy) to listen carefully to what clients would like to say; get a very detailed account, make hypotheses, and together with the client decide which is the best way forward. It is the therapist’s responsibility to discuss ideas that have emerged from scientific research and relevant references and make the connection with the presenting problem. Of course there is always present the idea of the self of the therapist and his own influence on the therapeutic relationship and progress; this is something that it can always be safeguarded by the use of supervision (talking about cases with other professionals).
Last but not least is the fact that the therapist is there to facilitate the client to appreciate, understand and make his own decision about the best way forward and not the other way around…
Eva Lychrou is a psychotherapist based in London and in Athens, helping people deal with family issues, relationship difficulties and self development in general.
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