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Counseling/Follow Up: Friend Issue


Hi Joel,
Please refer to the question below... here is what I am hoping to solve:  I want to be able to call Alisa a best friend, and not have to worry about Sarah taking over when she comes home.  I am having a good time, and I don't want somebody to take over, and end it for me.  I know Sarah can do that... I want to have an understanding with Alisa that I can still spend time with her when Sarah is back.  Since Sarah could talk Alisa into this, I want to start going for walks with her and to coffee regularly.  I know that at times life will get in the way, but the key word is try.  I'm afraid, though, if I mention this, I will seem displeased, and might not get anything.

Thanks, Suzette, for responding and taking the time to edit to the essentials.  I think that which we call a friendship happens simply when two or more people get mutual satisfaction from their interactions.  If those two people enjoy each other's company, that should be enough motivation to keep the relationship going.  If one or the other allows someone to interfere with the relationship, I would question how strong that connection was in the first place.  What we call the relationship is of less significance than the relationship itself.  My concern is that your worry about Sarah will drive you to demand more of Alisa than she might be willing to give and that you'll get yourself into a self-fulfilling prophecy: you become worried that you'll lose Alisa as a friend and Sarah will usurp you; you begin to push yourself onto Alisa which frustrates her and pulls her away from you; and you lose your friendship.  While there are no guarantees when it comes to human behavior, I think your best bet is to make sure that both you and Alisa enjoy your times together and that you let her know how much you enjoy her company.  Keep it simple, keep it natural and don't try too hard. There's a good chance if you follow that path, Sarah's involvement with Alisa will be irrelevant.  After all, Alisa could have more than one friend; we all need all the friends we can get.  I hope this helps, let me know if you have any follow-up questions.  Joel  


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Joel Simon


General questions about counseling, psychotherapy and mental health.


Over 30 years as a therapist, clinical supervisor and solution-focused trainer. I've worked in a variety of settings including adolescent day treatment, inpatient psychiatric hospitals, community mental health clinics, and hospice. Further information is available on my website:

A founding member of the Solution Focused Brief Therapy Association, Academy of Certified Social Workers, Board Certified Diplomate in Clinical Social Work, Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) in New York State.

Co-authored "Solution-Focused Brief Practice With Long-Term Clients in Mental Health Services: I'm More Than My Label." Authored: "Solution-Focused Practice in End-of-Life and Grief Counseling" Several articles published in professional journals including 2 with Insoo Kim Berg. Further details are available at

Masters of Social Work (Yeshiva University 1978). 5 years training in Transactional Analysis, certified in Advanced Ericksonian Psychotherapy and Hypnosis with the New York Society (NYSEPH), Advanced training and advanced supervision seminar in solution-focused brief therapy with the co-developers of the approach, Insoo Kim Berg and Steve de Shazer

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