A year ago, I was referred to my therapist by a friend, Anna, who had been seeing her for years. So far, the therapist has been helpful in encouraging me to speak up about things that are bothering me, and she’s the first person I’ve spoken to about several intense traumas. Working with her for the past year has been a life-changing experience, and seeing her is one of the best parts of my week. I wasn’t terribly close with Anna, but I am starting to get very close with a former friend of hers, Sammy. Sammy sometimes complains about Anna: She thinks Anna is selfish, and demands too much of people, and often blames the therapist for Anna’s behavior.
My therapist often says that I can ask more out of the people in my life and encourages me to be more open with my friends about my feelings, which seems like a good thing. But now I’m worried that I may start becoming selfish or too demanding if I keep seeing her. I’ll admit that I have gotten more distant from a few people in my life in the last year—including some family members—in part because of conversations with my therapist that revealed they haven’t been supportive in the ways that I want them to be. While my therapist frames this as evidence that I’m standing up for my needs, I’m now worried this is evidence that I’m doing the same thing Anna did to her friends. I don’t agree she was as selfish as Sammy makes her out to be, but I can see that Sammy was deeply hurt her actions, and I hate the idea that I would do the same thing to the people in my life. I have access to other therapists, but I really don’t want to start over. Plus, the idea that a person who I’ve always seen as extremely helpful could actually be doing harm brings up a lot of anxiety for me. Is Sammy right to blame Anna’s behavior on this therapist? Should I be wary about whether this therapist is really going to be all that helpful in the end? Or should I trust the experience I’ve had with her so far?