• Relationships

Girl Talk: To Friend Or Not To Friend My Therapist?

With the movie “The Social Network” debuting last week amid much hype, I find myself with an interesting Facebook-induced dilemma: whether or not to “friend” my therapist. We’ve never met in person, yet her perky face keeps popping up on my computer screen.

I study her small, smiling photo, shiny brown long hair, fair skin and straight white teeth and appreciate the irony. Here is someone I share some of the intimate details of my life with over the phone once a week, yet behind the safety of that telephone receiver, she has no idea what I look like or details about my life beyond what I tell her.

As an Irish Catholic woman who has called New York City home for 13 years, I found myself in the market for a therapist last pring, after an extremely bad breakup.

I “met” my new counselor via phone. After picking up her top-selling self-help book in Barnes & Nobles, I tracked her down through her website. The title of her book happened to be the name of “our song” — my ex-boyfriend and I.  I immediately took this as a sign from above: She was meant to save me from myself.

She lived outside the city so she didn’t have office hours, but she had phone sessions. As I worked more than 60 hours a week and rarely had time to leave the office, I felt grateful for getting access to help in any way I could.

Now, every time I log onto my Facebook account, it recommends my therapist as someone I should “friend.”  I contemplate the consequences of this. Does Facebook somehow know the nature of our relationship? If so, how?

I study her small, smiling photo, shiny, long brown hair, fair skin and straight white teeth and appreciate the irony. Here is someone I share some of the intimate details of my life with over the phone once a week, yet behind the safety of that telephone receiver, she has no idea what I look like or details about my life beyond what I tell her. My phone conversations with her are filtered. My issues presented in a way that is designed to elicit maximum empathy, positive feedback and no judgment.  

I don’t know if I really want to share all of my secrets with my therapist, or give her access to my status updates, photos and comments on people’s walls (e.g. an exchange with an ex-boyfriend or two that I am better off not talking to). Are the lines so blurred or are there none left to be crossed?  If I hit click on the “friend” button, would it save me time in explaining the back story of certain actions? Would she use my newsfeed in preparation for our calls?

Some small part of me wants to reveal my Facebook profile to her. My deepest fear, however strange for someone in therapy, is allowing her to see all of me. I revel in the anonymity of being a voice, not a person she can read through body language. I appreciate the fact that we’ll never meet; it’s easier to believe her words over the phone when she says, “Confidence is what matters and not your insecurities.”  If she saw me tagged in photos, I question if she’d have the same advice.  

Maybe that’s an issue to tackle during our next phone session. Until then, I am planning to ignore the friend recommendation.

Photo: iStockphoto

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