We have all become familiar with psychotherapists being dubbed ‘expensive friends’ and friends ‘inexpensive therapists’ in recent years. The suggestion that psychotherapy is nothing more than high- quality friendships often provokes heated debate. Does the debate contain a ring of truth or is it far more deep-seated? What exactly do high-quality friendship and therapy have in common? Quite simply, good communication.
Good communication makes for good relationships and is synonymous with high-quality friendship. The features of genuine friendship and therapy almost completely overlap. They include listening, empathising, sincere interest, respect, understanding, acceptance and a non-judgmental and non-critical attitude. In some respects, they sound like old-fashioned values and manners of a bygone age, which certainly can feel in short supply in the modern world.
Images of friends offloading over hedges or half-doors in some rural idyll spring to mind. Old sayings abound with the benefits of friendship: ‘A shared joy is a double joy; a shared sorrow is half a sorrow.’ The rarity of genuine friendship was summed up by 18th-century English physician Thomas Fuller, ‘If you have one true friend you have more than your share’, and equally so by American writer Sarah Orne Jewett in the character of Mrs Todd from The Country of the Pointed Firs: ‘Yes’m old friends is always best, ‘less you can catch a new one that’s fit to make an old one out of.’ Click here to read the full article
Michael Fitzgerald was the Henry Marsh Professor of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at Trinity College, Dublin. He is the first professor of child and adolescent psychiatry in Ireland. He was the first Professor of Child Psychiatry in Ireland in 1996. A Clinical and Research Consultant to the Irish Society for Autism and an Honorary member of the Northern Ireland Institute of Human Relations. He has a doctorate in the area of autism and has been a researcher in this area since 1973. He trained at St. Patrick’s Hospital Dublin, Chicago Medical School, and The Maudsley Hospital and the National Hospital for Nervous Diseases in London. He has clinically diagnosed over 2600 individuals with Autism and Asperger’s syndrome and has served on the Government Task Force on Autism and the family as well as similar task forces for the Department of Health in Northern Ireland. He has contributed to National and International Journals on autism another relevant topics. He has written, co –written, edited or co-edited over 24 books.. Read more