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Friendship and Therapy: Reflections on Friendship’s Therapeutic Power

Posted on Monday, March 13th at 10:01 pm

By Gary Borjesson, PhD

Friendship’s Therapeutic Power - Dragonfly Transitions for struggling young adults

Dragonfly students are well aware of the challenges and opportunities that life transitions bring. In the past few years, I’ve made some big transitions in my own life, one being a career change from philosophy professor to a therapist on Dragonfly’s Ashland campus.

I recently had the opportunity to bring my former and current lives together when I was invited to speak on the topic of friendship at an interdisciplinary academic conference held at the University of Dallas. I was invited partly because I had written a philosophic book for the general reader (titled Willing Dogs and Reluctant Masters: On Friendship and Dogs) that uses the human relationship with dogs to explore the nature of friendship generally. However, if the audience was hoping to hear about dogs, what they got was something else entirely!

I delivered a lecture titled “Friendship and Psychotherapy: Reflections on Friendship’s Therapeutic Power.” In it I explored how the therapeutic alliance between therapist and client is (or can be) like a friendship. I brought together contemporary psychology with the thinking of Plato and Aristotle to show how therapeutic alliances, in ways similar to friendship, can help improve the quality of people’s lives. I had a great time writing it, bringing my experiences as a therapist at Dragonfly together with my work in philosophy and reflecting on the importance of relationship in our therapeutic work with students.