Astrology for Empaths: How to Support a Struggling Friend without Playing Therapist

In partnership with BetterHelp

If you consider yourself a good friend, this scenario may sound familiar. Someone in your crew is going through a painful time. Perhaps they just lost a parent or a pet. They’re in the throes of a messy breakup. Their dream job went south after new management came in. You listen actively, meeting their gaze. You offer soothing words. You try to shore them up. You recommend a book that really helped you when you were in a similar space.

Time goes on, but nothing seems to help. Your friend remains stuck in pain. Another brunch is monopolized by their big emotions. You start to feel invisible, frustrated, resentful even. After that, comes the guilt, because aren’t friends supposed to be there for each other through thick and thin?

Right? Well, maybe not.

As we learned from a recent chat with BetterHelp therapist Courtney Cope, being a “compassionate witness” to a friend’s struggles is not the same as joining in with their pain. Ideally, we can validate their feelings without taking them on as our own.

Trouble is, we’re human. We get attached. It’s extremely difficult to be objective when supporting a friend for longer than a few conversations, which is why brunch talk simply can’t replace the gift of objective listening that a therapist brings.

Here at Astrostyle, we’re about mental and emotional health a lot in 2023. Why? Because the planets have brought the world into a space of heightened sensitivity as of March 7, 2023. Particularly, Saturn, the planet of time-tested lessons, which is on a three-year journey through compassionate, empathic Pisces until February 13, 2026.

Many of our readers have been reporting a heavy emotional shift since March 7, and TBH, we’ve felt it ourselves. Our dreams (ruled by Pisces) have been vivid. We’ve woken up under an emo cloud many days, which took some serious journaling, sister pep talks—and yes, weekly therapy—to evaporate.

Whether you’ve found a great therapist, have never done therapy or are searching for one who’s the right fit, Tali’s conversation with Courtney Cope, LMFT for BetterHelp, is chock full of illuminating insights around some very Piscean topics: Boundaries, forgiveness. Courtney also shares a powerful exercise on self-validation and forgiveness.

Boundaries—something we all need to understand better during this three-year Saturn cycle—are one of Courtney’s favorite things to talk about. She calls them “the protectors of our peace and the protectors of our sanity.” If you’re wondering where yours may need adjustment, she recommends starting by asking yourself, “Where in my life do I currently feel resentful? Where do I feel drained? Where am I dreading doing certain things or interacting with certain people?”

The answers, according to Courtney, are “the clues to perhaps where your boundaries have become too permeable and need to be revisited and re-established.”

We touched on Pisces’ favorite f-word in this conversation: Forgiveness. To get to a place of forgiveness, according to Courtney is like “bringing main character energy to your life.”  

That way, you can say, “I’m not going to allow the upset of this thing that happened in the past to continue to define my present moment or my future. I am the main character of my life, not this thing. And I’m going to live my life on my terms.”

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The AstroTwins

Identical twin sisters Ophira and Tali Edut, known as The AstroTwins, are the founders of and the authors of multiple bestselling astrology books. Their horoscopes reach millions here and through their resident astrologer column at ELLE Magazine.