Balancing Friendship as a Mental Health Professional

No one tells you how going to school for something like social work and then practicing as therapist impacts the private relationships you have with your friends.


Seriously!


Going through social work school, internships, and practicing as a therapist means you now have a unique knowledge base. A knowledgebase that others will sometimes want to tap into. (Especially friends, in my experience.)


So, it is easy to know how to keep proper boundaries with clients, but harder with friends especially when you are used to sharing information with your friends all of the time. In that sort of free-flowing way that texting has allowed us. Even harder when they ask for your opinion, as a professional not as you the friend, and don't end up taking that professional 'advice" or "suggestion" into account. With that being said, here are my 3 tips to balancing friendship as a mental health professional.



1. Create Personal Boundaries - Creating professional boundaries is easy, creating personal ones is harder. But it is key to being able to balance personal and professional without blurring to many lines. So creating the personal boundaries can look like stating that you aren't willing to talk, or not talking about certain topics like your friend's relationship that is covered in red flags.


2. Accept your friend's choices - Just like you learn to accept your client's choices. You have to learn to accept your friend's choices especially when they keep coming to you with the same problem over and over again. This can be especially tough when they are coming to you asking for your "professional advice" or "professional opinion" on the problem.


3. Know when to put on and take off the profession hat - Learn when to put on the professional hat and give out pieces of your knowledgebase and know when to take off that hat, and keep those pieces to yourself. An important part of this tip is gaining the ability to say "I can't do this right now." or something along those lines for those moments when you have to take the professional hat off.



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