Going to see a therapist is sometimes necessary in life when things just aren’t going as planned. Whether you’re going through an emotional battle or have just hit a spot where you feel stuck, getting a fresh perspective from a therapist can serve you well. However, while a therapist is a great benefit, there is a chance that you can become too dependent on him or her over time. Often, this happens due to the extreme importance the therapist takes on in your life.
If you are not sure if you’re depending too much on your therapist, here are three things to keep an eye out for in order to ensure a healthy balance.
1. An Inability to Move Forward
The biggest problem with being too dependent on your therapist is that it can prevent you from taking control of your life. If you find yourself putting off making your own decisions until you see your therapist, you may have become too dependent. Sure, your therapist can guide you, but he or she shouldn’t be making decisions for you. The goal of therapy is to learn tools and methods that can help you eventually take care of your own needs.
As your therapy progresses in the right direction, you should feel like you have the ability and the mindset to move on without the help of your therapist. Typically, the patient sees a therapist frequently in the beginning of therapy but over time, the frequency of meetings decreases. Eventually, you should reach the point where you no longer need to see your therapist.
2. An Unhealthy Attachment
When you have an issue or event pop up in life that you aren’t sure about, what is the first thing you do? Do you automatically try to contact your therapist for advice? Do you feel paralyzed with fear by making decisions yourself? If your therapist is the first person you want to talk to about it and you hesitate to take action before talking to her, you may have become too dependent. If you feel like you cannot live your life without your therapist’s involvement, you may have an unhealthy attachment.
If you do recognize this pattern going on, let your therapist know. This can be something you both can work on in therapy, as she may help you to identify moments when you should be making decisions on your own without consulting her. You may just need a bit of encouragement to gain confidence in doing things on your own.
3. Crossing of Professional Boundaries
Clients sometimes develop powerful feelings for their therapist. If you feel that you have developed feelings that are beyond your professional relationship, it is necessary for you to address them. You can be upfront and ask him or her to refer you to another doctor, if need be. You may be able to work those feelings out in therapy, but if you are uncomfortable, it may benefit you to see a different therapist.
Therapy dependence is more common than you might think, but it is possible to get past it with a little bit of work and honesty. Be honest with your therapist if you think you have become too dependent on him or her. At the same time, do your part by continuing to invest in yourself, your growth and building a solid social foundation outside of therapy through friends and family members. As you do, you will become more confident when it comes to making decisions and tackling life’s issues on your own.