Sometimes my clients turn out to be people I really like. I think things like, "Man, it would be fun to go out for a beer with you..." or "You would be such a great babysitter for my kids..." or "If only we'd met at a different time in life…"
BUT (and that's a big BUT), actually connecting with clients on a friend level is big no-no. Not that it wouldn't be fun for me and them. But the risks of harming the therapeutic relationship are huge.
They would no longer get the 100% devotion of my attention (that's something you can only maintain in short bursts… like measured fifty minute sessions). They would suddenly become responsible for caring about me in a taking-turns kind of way (as friends do). My opinion of them could suddenly impact their day-to-day life. Shoot, if they babysat my kids part of their income would then become dependent on how much I continued to like them—all things that destroy the safety of raw vulnerability.
Raw vulnerability (the place you have to get to in therapy) is sometimes messy and ugly and not likable. Sometimes it's even offensive. But that's why y'all pay me—there's no risk of rejection. In those moments I'm in it for the money and for what it does for you, not for how it makes me feel.
I CAN'T be friends with clients. No matter how much I might feel I could. They may be great people, but they have to stay out of the friend zone.
Unsplash photo cred: Gregorie Bertaud