Best Friend Therapy: Elizabeth Day and Emma Reed-Turrell talk the rules of friendship, boundaries and their new podcast

Best Friend Therapy: Elizabeth Day and Emma Reed Turrell talk the rules of friendship, boundaries and their new podcast

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Stylist sat down with Elizabeth Day and Emma Reed Turrell to talk about their new podcast Best Friend Therapy.

Many of us have grown up alongside the idea that to be a “good friend” we have to be available for every wine night, never say no and always make space for the people in our lives.

But in the first episode of Best Friend Therapy, released on 28 March, hosts Elizabeth Day and Emma Reed Turrell muse: “Boundaries are actually a point of connection.” 

 And as best friends of over 20 years, they know a thing or two about making it work. 

The podcast, billed as “Two best friends. One therapist. Zero filter”, takes a warm but honest look at the challenges of our everyday lives, offering understanding, compassion and practical wisdom.

Boundaries, what they are and why we need them is the topic on the table of the debut episode, as the pair discuss how they’ve learned to navigate a close and deep friendship without demanding too much of one another.

Stylist sat down with Day and Reed Turrell to talk about friendship secrets, the importance of open communication and what it’s really like to have a best friend as a therapist.

Stylist: Friendships do take work, so after many years of friendship, how do you tend to your relationship? Have you set any rules and boundaries?

Elizabeth Day: “I don’t think we have any rules, but we do have a deep understanding of who we both are. Even if I don’t think the best of myself, I know that Emma always will be thinking the best of me and that she accepts me unconditionally and there’s something really pure and special about that kind of love. Our boundaries come from that acceptance.

Now that we’ve started working together there’s an honesty and a clarity to our communication because we know it’s underpinned with that foundational love and acceptance.”

Emma Reed Turrell: “I think it’s really interesting when you said that friendships are sometimes not easy. I actually find Elizabeth really easy to be friends with because she takes responsibility for herself. I think we model each other’s permission to say what we want to. So if I send a whole stream of texts to her and she doesn’t reply, I don’t think, ‘What have I done?’ I think, ‘I wonder if she’s all right.’”

In the episode, Emma talks specifically about how you often hit your personal boundaries with people sooner than you expected to. How do you experience those situations when you know a friend wants more from you but you feel like you can’t give it?

ERT: “For me, it’s about responsibility. The first sign that I’ve hit my boundary is that I feel resentment towards them. When I start resenting someone, I know that I need to put in boundaries for that person, and that is my responsibility. I can’t be upset if people cross my invisible line because I didn’t communicate with them. Because that person has a need but that doesn’t mean I’m the one that has to fulfill it.

Friendship is not paracetamol, you’re not there to kind of take the edge off people’s pain. It’s important to recognise that sometimes we end up in friendships that aren’t right for us and ending a friendship really is a skill – there’s no socially and culturally accepted formats or rituals that you can go through.”

Elizabeth Day, co-host of Best Friend Therapy
Elizabeth Day, co-host of Best Friend Therapy

Elizabeth, are there any stand-out life lessons or mechanisms you’ve learned from having a therapist as a best friend?

ED: “Every single day I get a truth bomb from Emma, and I mean that in the most amazing way. I ask for them. But she’s not my therapist; I have a therapist, but I do get the value of this incredible combination of her love for me and how years of therapeutic practice lead to these incredible insights that she has.

When I was unhappily married but didn’t even realise I was unhappy about it, Emma was the one who first pointed out to me that maybe I wasn’t. She said that a lot of people use masking emotions in order not to have to deal with the more uncomfortable one that lies beneath. So I might have been saying to her, ‘I’m a bit sad about this,’ but I was actually really angry and I didn’t know how to express that. She gave me the safe space to do that and helped me through the darkest most difficult time in my life.”

Emma Reed-Turrell, co-host of Best Friend Therapy
Emma Reed-Turrell, co-host of Best Friend Therapy

Emma, what was a key moment for you when you’ve been grateful for Elizabeth’s friendship?

ERT: “The thing about Liz is, she is, I think for lots of people, but for me particularly, she is just the most amazing cheerleader and advocate. I can sometimes be a bit withdrawn and uncomfortable receiving praise but she has just hit me over the head with it for long enough that I’ve been able to open my mind to receive it. She offers it with such skill and such generosity that it’s really safe to receive what she offers. That’s her superpower: her emotional intelligence and her availability, and she does that for me every day. 

Episode 1 of Best Friend Therapy is available to listen now on both Spotify and Apple Podcasts.

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