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What’s the Difference between Talking with a Shrink and Talking with a Friend?

What’s the Difference between Talking with a Shrink and Talking with a Friend?

Atlantic Monthly reporter Olga Khazan reached out last month to discuss what it is like to practice therapy in Washington, DC. She was curious about what it means to work in a city where so many professionals have top secret security clearance or work in fields like politics and reporting where it can be complicated to speak openly with colleagues and friends. How might this shape the catalysts for engaging in therapy?

The gist of the article explored how DC dwellers might seek therapy not just to address a presenting problem. Instead, they might simply want to have a safe, confidential place to gossip or vent. But it is important to make the distinction between what it means to talk with a therapist rather than a friend. Therapy is hard work. It’s about figuring out how you operate in the world and what parts of your approach to relationships are strengths and what parts need to change. Sometimes therapy sessions feel a bit like friendship, but indeed they are quite different. Therapists should push clients to work on themselves and ask pointed questions to illuminate patterns that are not serving the client well.

I was pleased that Ms. Khazan included this perspective in her piece even if she saved it for the final paragraphs. Talking with friends should be fun, and talking with a therapist is hard work!

Elisabeth LaMotte

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