“Am I too dependent on my counselor?”
I was out with some friends last week, and someone in our group asked me a question about counseling that I’ve heard before, and I think it is probably a common question that’s not often answered. So, I thought I would talk about it here.
The question is this: “If I’m in counseling, is it possible that I could become dependent on my therapist?”
Let me try to demystify it:
1) If you’re in counseling, or thinking about counseling, you probably want some amount of guidance or support from your therapist. Hence, it’s true that you might rely somewhat on your therapist and coach. This is not necessarily bad—and reliance isn’t dependence. You might rely on your therapist similar to the way that a student relies on their teacher, or an apprentice on a mentor.
2) It’s normal to have some attachment to your counselor, because when counseling (or coaching) is going well, it’s a real relationship. This too is ok, because not all attachment is unhealthy—there is also healthy attachment. In fact, without some amount of attachment, the relationship might lack trust or understanding—two crucial things in counseling!
3) If you are in counseling and are worried about your level of dependency on your counselor—talk to him or her about it. If you have a good and ethical therapist, he or she is going to work to make sure the relationship is a healthy one—and your counselor should let you know if they think you are being too dependent or reliant on them.
4) Also, ask yourself if the counseling is helping you make progress in your life. Are you able to make independent choices better than when you first started counseling? If the answer is yes—it seems counseling is helping you become more independent, not less.
By the way, having the thought, “what would my counselor or coach think about this” when you’re making a decision, isn’t necessarily bad…
5) Lastly, if you’re worried that your relationship with your counselor is unbalanced (and I might get some feedback from other counselors out there on this tip) present your concerns to another professional in the field. Another therapist should be able to provide you feedback for your specific situation, and act as an impartial third party to help you determine is you are indeed becoming overly dependent on your therapist.