Therapy FAQ

Should You Recommend Your Therapist to a Friend?

Have you ever wondered if it would be a good idea to recommend your current therapist to a close friend who is seeking mental health support? Read on to understand the benefits and the potential drawbacks of recommending your therapist to your friend.   

Tahara DeBarrows By Tahara DeBarrows, LMFT
Woman comforting another woman.

Updated on Jun 16, 2024

Have you ever wondered if it would be a good idea to recommend your current therapist to a close friend who is seeking mental health support? It may sound like a simple recommendation to make, but it also involves certain considerations and implications. Read on to understand the benefits and the potential drawbacks of recommending your therapist to your friend.

Benefits of Recommending a Therapist to a Friend

There are many benefits of sharing a therapist with a friend, including creating a shared positive experience, helping a friend with their entry into therapy for the first time, and bonding over taking strides toward bettering your mental health.

Shared Positive Experience

When you have a positive therapy relationship with your therapist, it’s natural to want to share that positivity with a friend in need. Sharing your therapist with a friend may help alleviate any awkwardness or anxiety they may experience when engaging with a new therapist for the first time.

Having confidence in your therapist’s methods and style can help decrease negative assumptions about starting therapy. When you share the positive results of therapy with a friend, you are providing a credible source of information that can help them make a decision about whether or not to start therapy.

Easier Transition for the Friend

Transitioning into therapy can be anxiety-provoking for some because a connection has not been established. When recommending your therapist, you are already familiar with their approach so you can help alleviate any fears or concerns your friend may have. Listening to a firsthand account of a successful therapy session can provide a sense of comfort.

Strengthened Social Support Network

Stronger social support networks can be fostered through a shared understanding of therapy experiences. This support network, which can include loved ones, can help reduce stigma, encourage dialogue, and normalize the therapy process. This supportive environment can enhance well-being and help individuals navigate their challenges collectively.

A social support network can provide encouragement and accountability for individuals seeking therapy, helping them attend sessions consistently, and work towards achieving their mental health objectives. Individuals who are familiar with engaging in therapy can provide emotional support during the therapeutic journey and help you with fostering your mental well-being.

Potential Drawbacks of Recommending Your Therapist

While there are many benefits of sharing a therapist with a friend, there can also be drawbacks. You may have different individual needs, there could be concerns surrounding confidentiality, or it could have a negative impact on your relationship with your friend.

Differences in Individual Needs

Recommending your therapist to a friend can be challenging because people’s needs and preferences for therapy vary greatly. Individuals engaged in therapy have specific mental health challenges with tailored interventions and treatment goals. Nonetheless, if the treatment approach does not align with the individual’s preferences, the treatment’s efficacy might be diminished. Such experiences may reinforce discouragement or reluctance to seek therapy.

There can be some tricky parts to making sure the therapist and the client are a good fit. The therapeutic relationship is based on mutual trust and respect, which forms the foundation for effective therapy and is a great predictor of therapeutic outcomes. Even a highly trained therapist may not connect with an individual. Clients are more receptive to a therapist’s advice when they like their style, trust their abilities, feel they hold their best interest at heart, and if their personalities “click.” A mismatch can affect the efficacy of therapy which may, in turn, lead the individual to feel uneasy and less willing to engage in the therapeutic process.

Confidentiality Concerns

When two individuals receive treatment from the same therapist, there may be unease with privacy and confidentiality. Individuals might be concerned with the therapist forgetting and sharing information unknowingly. Therapists are bound by ethical guidelines that require them to only share information during specific times such as when you threaten to self-harm or if you or family members report your intent to harm other another person.

When there is a potential for overlapping personal information, an individual might feel uncomfortable sharing their challenges. This can potentially negatively impact therapy and cause a client to feel uncomfortable venting about a friend because of confidentiality concerns.

Impact on Personal Relationship

Discussing friendship issues in therapy sessions might evoke emotions if both parties are experiencing difficulties in their friendship, which could potentially lead to further conflict. Also, if you feel like you can’t talk to your therapist about issues that are bothering you about your friendship, then this takes away from your therapy experience. Therapy is a space you should feel comfortable speaking about anything and everything.

It is also important to consider how your friend might feel if they see that your experience of therapy is different than theirs. Friends might begin to experience negative feelings such as jealousy or have a desire to compare their experience with therapy. They may feel resentful about your recommendation.

Receiving a Recommendation for a Therapist from a Friend

For individuals with no prior experience, finding a therapist can be a challenge. It can consist of navigating through numerous profiles and attending consultations to find the best fit. Receiving a recommendation for a therapist from a friend can help reduce search time and effort.

Advantages of Receiving a Recommendation

Chavon Blowe, a licensed professional counselor (LPC) with Grow Therapy, states, “In my experience, POC clients have disclosed the difficulty of finding a POC therapist in network with their insurance or with affordable out of pocket costs. Due to this difficulty, they are more likely to recommend me to their friends.”

By receiving a recommendation for a therapist you can be assured that they trust their own therapist’s capabilities and believe they can be of help to you. Knowing that a trusted friend has had a positive experience can give the individual confidence that they will receive optimal treatment.

In my experience, POC clients have disclosed the difficulty of finding a POC therapist in network with their insurance or with affordable out of pocket costs. Due to this difficulty, they are more likely to recommend me to their friends.

- Chavon Blowe, LPC

Gregorio Lozano III, a licensed professional counselor (LPC) with Grow Therapy, discusses how a recommendation can be an effective tool. He states, “…if you help treat a couple improve their relationship and they found this helpful, it would not be unreasonable for them to want to recommend you to other friends who are struggling in their relationship, too.”

Lozano goes on to say, “ In such a circumstance one simply reiterate the need for privacy and that no mention of that couple would be expected during that therapy setting and vice versa.”

Evaluating the Recommendation

Once you receive a recommendation to a therapist from a friend, you can begin evaluating the recommendation. Researching the therapist’s approach, style, and experience are ways they can assess whether your therapist fits their personal therapy needs and goals.

Managing Expectations

When considering therapy, individuals should understand its subjective nature. Individual experiences in therapy can vary greatly, and the success of one individual’s treatment does not necessarily indicate that another person will have a similar outcome.  By managing expectations, you understand that everyone’s mental health journey is different which means that certain techniques might be effective for you but not as effective for your friend.

Ethical and Professional Considerations

If you’re considering referring your friend to the same therapist you use, it’s important to take proper ethical considerations. You want to avoid situations where a therapist you share with a friend begins to blur the lines of privacy between individual sessions or where you yourself become too concerned with what takes place in a friend’s therapy sessions. It can also take a toll on the friendship, depending on cultural and social factors.

Therapist’s Perspective on Multiple Relationships

The American Psychological Association’s (APA) code of ethics discusses multiple relationships in the three facets. The definition applicable for this article is “when a psychologist is in a professional role with a person and at the same time is in a relationship with a person closely associated with or related to the person with whom the psychologist has the professional relationship.” It’s key to note that the same ethics apply to all therapists, including counselors, LMFTs and LCSWs.

Although multiple relationships can sometimes be seen as unethical, some therapists have their own perspectives on the issue. Blowe stated, “I do not discuss the friend’s or relative’s therapeutic involvement with my current client and vice versa.” Blowe goes on to say, “For me personally, I enter each session as if I did not know they have a relationship with each other as this helps me remain objective.”

Some therapists have established guidelines against working with people within the same social circle or family. For example, if a therapist discovers that they are seeing someone who may have been victimized by a current client, they may decide to refer one or both clients to another therapist. Once this is done, the therapist is bound by ethics to provide referrals.  A psychologist refrains from entering into a multiple relationship if the relationship could reasonably be expected to impair the psychologist’s objectivity, competence, or effectiveness in performing his or her functions as a psychologist, or otherwise risks exploitation or harm to the person with whom the professional relationship exists.

Client’s Responsibility

Although it is your therapist’s responsibility to maintain confidentiality and professional boundaries it’s also important to consider your responsibility as a client. This means refraining from inquiring about your friends progress or what they discuss during their sessions.

Having a multiple relationship can potentially undermine the therapeutic relationship. Boundaries can become blurred which can affect the therapist’s ability to be non-bias. It is possible that the client may perceive harm or exploitation, which could have repercussions on their well-being and overall experience.

Impact of Cultural and Social Factors

The most important work  for  every  counselor  and  mental  health  professional  is  to  become  more  culturally responsive. By being culturally responsive, a therapist understands how cultural backgrounds influence therapy experiences. Therefore, therapists who understand cultural context and can adapt their techniques to be more culturally responsive, will most likely have better outcomes for their clients.

Lozano states, “Cultural backgrounds and social dynamics have some influence on the decision to recommend a therapist.” Furthermore, client outcomes can be influenced by social dynamics.  Therapists must consider clients’ cultural backgrounds, family dynamics, social supports, and social context during treatment.

Alternatives to Direct Recommendations

You do not always have to directly refer your therapist to friends seeking therapy. There are alternative ways of connecting your friends with a helpful therapist.

General Referral Lists

Therapist Referral Networks can consist of medical providers, mental health professionals, psychotherapists, etc. who can provide referrals for individuals seeking therapy.

Furthermore, professional organizations can have healthcare databases filled with therapists of different educational backgrounds such as social workers, licensed marriage and family therapists, and licensed professional counselors.

Anonymous Reviews and Ratings

When referring a therapist to a friend, utilizing client reviews can be a valuable tool. Several online therapy platforms enable clients to share their experiences through reviews. However, it’s crucial to remember that there are other relevant factors to consider when evaluating therapist reviews. One such factor is the specific criteria on which the review was based.

Joining client support groups can be beneficial when seeking recommendations, as these groups offer a collective source of knowledge from various individuals on a shared platform. Potential clients can access valuable firsthand information from peers who’ve had similar experiences.

Ways Therapy May Help in Decision-Making

You can get professional advice from your therapist to help you to make a more informed decision on whether to provide a therapist recommendation. Asking your therapist for support can also be a safe space for you to address any concerns or reservations.

Therapist’s Role in Providing Guidance

By using a pros and cons list, you and your therapist can explore the possible advantages and disadvantages. Lozano states, “It is important to keep in mind that we cannot control what our clients wish to do, we can only control with our share of responsibility when it comes to confidentiality and informing clients about this.”

Enhancing Self-Awareness

Having self-awareness around your personal needs and preferences while engaged in psychotherapy helps with deciding the best fit for a therapist. Reflecting on what worked vs. what didn’t work during past therapeutic experiences can help your therapist. Thinking back on your previous therapeutic sessions and evaluating what was effective and what wasn’t can be beneficial for your therapist.

Grow Therapy possesses a diverse and well-equipped database of mental health professionals from varying backgrounds and training disciplines. Visit to learn more.


  • Offering therapy to a friend is considered unethical due to the potential conflict of interest that arises from the dual relationship. This dual relationship can cause a differential in power dynamics, possible confidentiality issues, and can cause potential harm.

  • If you’d like to recommend a therapist to someone, ensure that the person is open to the idea of engaging in therapy. If they are, you can share your experiences, or offer to help with navigating the process of finding a therapist.

  • While seeking a therapist recommendation from a friend can be helpful, there are crucial factors to assess before making your decision. Research the therapist's therapeutic style, be aware of possible confidentiality issues, and assess their ability to help with your specific challenges based on their professional qualifications.

About the author
Tahara DeBarrows Tahara DeBarrows, LMFT

Tahara DeBarrows is a licensed marriage and family therapist who specializes in writing on a diverse array of topics within the realm of mental health, with a particular focus on substance use, coping skills, and overall mental well-being. Her expertise extends to addressing the complexities of trauma, anxiety, attachment injuries, depression, and ADHD. Through her work, she aims to provide insightful, empathetic, and evidence-based perspectives to support individuals on their journeys to better mental health.

This article is not meant to be a replacement for medical advice. We recommend speaking with a therapist for personalized information about your mental health. If you don’t currently have a therapist, we can connect you with one who can offer support and address any questions or concerns. If you or your child is experiencing a medical emergency, is considering harming themselves or others, or is otherwise in imminent danger, you should dial 9-1-1 and/or go to the nearest emergency room.