When to Talk to a Therapist vs. a Friend
A common reason people don’t seek the help of a therapist is because they think it’s just like talking to a good friend, only it costs a lot more money. However, seeing a therapist is so much more than having a heart-to-heart with a loved one. If you are caught between deciding when to talk to a therapist vs. a friend, it is important to know the benefits of speaking with a therapist.
To start, therapists are objective, confidential, and non-judgemental. This means you can get an unbiased opinion about whatever is going on in your life and you can be 100% honest about everything without the fear of tainting your friendships. Furthermore, a therapist is a trained professional equipped with the skills to identify personal behaviors and patterns that are no longer beneficial to you. Through therapy, you can learn tools to better cope and develop new, healthy behaviors, ultimately allowing you to grow as an individual. Continue reading as we discuss, in more depth, some of the major benefits of talking to a therapist vs. a friend.
Therapists Are Objective
Bottom line, friends cannot be objective or neutral when it comes to discussing an issue in your life. Due to the personal relationship you have developed with a close friend, they are inherently biased and may be overly critical of your actions or may not be fully truthful with you for fear of hurting your feelings. Even if it seems like they can give you an unbiased opinion, their unconscious bias and attachment to you as a friend are undoubtedly coloring their response.
On the other hand, therapists view your life and struggles through an outside lens. Your relationship with your therapist should be professional so they do not have an emotional stake in your situation. Therapists are also trained to recognize their own biases and reactions as well as how to work through them to provide an unbiased opinion. When trying to improve your life, it is important to get an honest opinion about what is going on and why you react the way you do. Then, you can work on correcting old, negative habits and have more control over your reactions and life in general.
You Can Be 100% Honest in Therapy
You get the best results from therapy if you are 100% honest. With a friend, you may leave out minor details to make yourself or the situation at hand look better than it is. A therapist’s job is to support you unconditionally, regardless of what you talk about during your sessions. Moreover, it is impossible for a therapist to work with you on solving your problems if you are not giving them the full scope of what is happening in your life. Your therapist should be actively working to create an environment that feels safe and comfortable for you to share. If you feel judgement from your therapist, you are in the wrong place. Being able to present yourself without any expectations can feel truly liberating. You just have to be open to the process and willing to speak freely.
Therapy Is Confidential
It is easier to be 100% honest when you know the information you are sharing is completely confidential. Therapists are bound to legal and ethical standards that require them to keep everything you share in therapy confidential. However, when there is intent to harm oneself or someone else or child/elder abuse is occurring, therapists are legally obligated to report. With friends, there is no guarantee that your secrets are safe. They may gossip or not even realize that the information you shared was meant to stay confidential. Having secrets spread amongst your social circle can cause you stress and potentially ruin relationships. Having a safe, empathetic, supportive space to explore things you would normally keep bottled up or you are afraid to share with many people can be extremely beneficial for your mental health. Therapy provides you with the tools to talk about your struggles and then release and grow from them.
Want to Try Therapy Out?
Now that you have a better understanding of when to talk to a therapist vs. a friend, perhaps therapy feels right for you. We cannot stress enough the importance of taking care of your mental health and how therapy can help improve your well-being. In fact, therapy may be one of the most important investments you can make for yourself. Chriselda Santos, licensed psychotherapist and certified life coach, helps her clients find the root cause of their struggles. If you are interested in learning more about Chriselda’s approach to therapy, or you want to book an appointment, visit her website.