Close your eyes for a moment and imagine yourself in the following scenario…

It’s 9AM on a Monday. You just booted up your computer and are looking over your schedule for the week. From taking just a brief glance at the screen you see that your week is packed. You have at least 5 individual sessions each day, plus you’re leading a few groups this week. You take three slow breaths and jump in.

Fast-forward to 6PM that Friday, when you look up from your computer screen and realize your work week is (technically) done. You head home from your office (or maybe just into the living room, if you work remotely) and crash. You spend your weekend sleeping, making a few tweaks to your website, binge watching  your favorite show, handling your non-work responsibilities, and updating your business plan for the next quarter.

Before you know it, it’s Monday and time for you to start the work week all over again.

As time goes on, you begin to long for human interaction outside of work and wish you had more time and energy to spend with friends and family.

If you relate to the hypothetical(?) scenario above in any way, know that you’re not alone. Forming and maintaining friendships as a therapist is no easy task. As a fellow therapist that’s been in your shoes, I’m here today to talk about why forming and maintaining friendships when we do what we do can be so hard- and how to satisfy your need for connection with friends.

The Struggle is Real

As I’m sure you’re aware, it can be tough to make and spend time with friends whether you’re a therapist or not. Because of the nature of the work you do as a therapist, you face unique challenges in navigating your social life.

To help you better understand as well as normalize the challenges you experience, here’s the scoop on three major challenges therapists face when it comes to socializing:

You never seem to have enough time

Most therapists have pretty stacked schedules. A typical day may consist of seeing several clients, responding to emails and phone calls from clients and colleagues, catching up on documentation, and making sure your billing is up to date, among other things. By the time your work day is over, you most likely find that there’s not much time left for you to spend taking care of yourself and your family. That being said, odds are that it may seem nearly impossible for you to set aside time to spend with friends.

The answer to this dilemma of lacking time is not as simple as taking time off from work, especially if you work in private practice or hold a fee-for-service position. In this line of work, your income depends on seeing clients, which can make it challenging to take time off or decrease your working hours while also making ends meet.

You’re too tired

Because you dedicate the majority of your time to your duties as a therapist, it’s likely that you’re physically and emotionally exhausted in addition to being short on time. The majority of your work day consists of interacting with other people. You may find yourself devoid of social energy by the end of the day, keeping you from being able to muster up enough pep to spend time with others. If you identify as an empath or highly sensitive person (HSP), you may feel especially socially drained outside of work, as you are especially attuned to others’ energies and moods.

Being alone may be how you recharge in your downtime. Being with others, even in intimate settings, may seem counterintuitive when you’re trying to replenish your energy. In all likelihood, you just want to recharge by sleeping and lounging around your home.

You worry that other people just won’t understand

You may find that you seem to attract friends, partners, and other people into your life that treat you like their own personal therapist when what you’re looking for is honest-to-goodness companionship. If this is you, it may be hard for you to try to form new friendships as you’re afraid that you’ll end up becoming their therapist as well.

On another note, you may fear that people that are not therapists will not understand your life experiences, or that you won’t have anything to talk about with them. If you’re limited on time to socialize, you may find it hard to relate to others on typical topics of conversation, or may fear that you won’t be able to find common ground with others.

These are just a few of the challenges that therapists may face when it comes to making and keeping friends. It can be really hard to put yourself out there socially- and that’s okay. It’s totally normal to struggle to have a satisfying social life as a therapist. Thankfully there are some strategies that you can implement in your life to help you make and maintain social connections.

A Basic Blueprint for Making and Keeping Friends

While forming and maintaining friendships can seem daunting or even impossible at times, know that you are capable of overcoming barriers to socializing comfortably. Here are three straightforward strategies you can try to help you maintain friendships as well as your well-being:

Set firm boundaries with work

You know the saying “leave work at work and home at home?” It’s much easier said than done, but working only during the hours you set for yourself (or that are set for you) will free up more of your personal time and allow you to rest and recharge. Having an adequate amount of downtime will make spending time with friends so much easier and more enjoyable.

“Keeping work at work” means not seeing clients outside of your availability, not checking your work email all hours of the night, and being fully present when spending time with friends and family. Having a consistent mindfulness practice can help make staying present easier.

Learn to Protect Your Energy at Work and at Home

In order to be fully present in any sort of relationship, you need to have adequate physical, social, emotional, and spiritual energy. As a therapist, you probably find yourself expending a lot of energy in all of these dimensions on a daily basis. If you identify as an empath or a highly sensitive person you may find yourself feeling especially drained of your energy. Thankfully, there are a few different methods you can use to maintain and protect your beautiful energy.

Cleansing rituals are a great way to purify your energy, to cleanse your mind, body, and spirit. You can do these rituals in-between clients, after leaving work, on a weekly basis, or whenever you feel that you need them. These rituals don’t need to be complex or elaborate. A cleansing ritual may be as simple as reciting a mantra (“I am strong, I am safe, I am present”) or rubbing an essential oil on your wrist.

At the end of your work day, employing a transitional ritual can help you get out of a working mindset and shift your focus to your home life. You may find it helpful to shower right after work to “wash the day away.” Or perhaps you have a song you listen to or meditation you practice at the end of each work day.

Implementing these types of rituals regularly can help you to create a sense of separation between your work and personal life, making it easier for you to protect your energy so that you can be fully present and engaged in your personal relationships.


As you probably already know, you cannot go through this journey called life alone- especially as a therapist. Having a support group that you regularly reach out to and identify with is vital. Peer support groups, consultation groups, and supervision groups allow therapists to engage with, support, and relate to one another. Being involved in one of these types of groups will help you to feel less alone as a therapist and give you the opportunity to practice reaching out to others.

In addition to joining a group of other therapists, you can find connection with others by joining a group of people that does something you enjoy. Maybe you join a group of people that runs, or plays tennis, or writes, or speaks, or volunteers. You can find these sorts of groups through Facebook, or on sites like

No matter how you do it, make sure you are setting aside time each week to dedicate to your bonds with others. Sometimes it feels like it’s easier to stay to yourself and avoid others, but in the long run being around others will allow you to feel more fulfilled, joyous, and in tune with yourself and the world around you.

Remember, You are Alone Together

Each and every one of you that is reading this is a unique individual. Each of you has walked a different path of life, had different experiences from those around you. What is universal amongst each and every one of you (and me, too!) is your humanity– the fact that you all experience common human emotions. You can all connect in some way, shape, or form based on our humanity. The relationships that you form can help uplift you, support you, help you feel less alone, and give you the opportunity to do the same for others.

Forming and maintaining relationships can be challenging for a multitude of reasons, and it is also indescribably fulfilling. You can have healthy, satisfying relationships that you nurture regularly by using some of the simple strategies suggested- or your own! Just make sure you stay connected to others, and know you are not alone!

Sincerely Yours,


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About the Author: Elena Simonsen
Elena is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker Supervisor who specializes in working with people in recovery from substance use, codependency, and other addictive patterns of behavior. She graduated from Florida State University with a Master of Social Work (MSW) and has experience working in inpatient, outpatient, and private practice settings. Elena has a strong love for writing, and hopes to use her writing to inspire and inform other while also sharing her personal experience.

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