I am in therapy for depression,ocd,anxiety,&ptsd. was abused by my mother as a child. I have been too embarrassed to ask my therapist about this. I have had imaginary friends my whole life, as a kid they were characters from tv shows like Fonzie, etc. As an adult they are real people like Tom Hanks etc. I know they aren’t really there, but I talk to them, “take them with me” places. what the heck is this?

A. It is not uncommon for children to have imaginary friends. They have active and unhindered imaginations. It’s also not uncommon for children who have been abused to develop an imaginary friend or an extensive fantasy world.

In the case of abused children, the imaginary world serves as a form of psychological protection. I suspect that your imaginary friends have served that function for you. The imaginary friends have helped to buffer significant psychological pain. It’s possible that the imaginary friends are the result of the abuse you have sustained.

It’s a mistake to withhold this important information from your therapist. You have nothing to be embarrassed about. Having an imaginary friend is a coping mechanism. As you grow, heal and recover from the abuse, the imaginary friends will likely disappear because they will no longer be needed.

By withholding information from your therapist, you are in essence handicapping his or her ability to fully assist you. The more information your therapist has, the better able he or she will be to help you. It’s difficult to properly treat your condition when important information is being withheld. Make it a priority, at your next session, to tell your therapist about your imaginary friends. Please take care.

Dr. Kristina Randle