There are many differences between sharing your problems with a friend and working with a therapist. Sure, talking to a buddy is free and convenient, and after all, they know you pretty well. However, they likely don’t have the expertise to help you like a clinical therapist can, particularly if your issues are complex and troublesome. Learn about reasons you should see a therapist instead of relying on discussions with friends to help manage your personal affairs.
What Is Psychotherapy?
Psychotherapy is also known as “talk therapy.” This umbrella term describes a variety of therapeutic techniques aimed at helping individuals identify and resolve emotions, thoughts, or behaviors that have become disruptive to normal functioning. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) are two of the most common forms of talk therapy for mental health and addiction treatment.
Psychotherapy can be achieved in one-on-one sessions between the client and their therapist or in a group setting with others seeking assistance.
Elements of Talk Therapy
There are several components of talk therapy, some of which you might encounter in your session depending on your area of focus. Some elements include:
- The therapist helps you realize the harmful thoughts and beliefs you have about yourself. They assist you in questioning and replacing them with more positive and accurate conceptions.
- They help you develop effective ways to cope with painful emotions like stress and life changes.
- The therapist teaches you cognitive and social skills such as problem-solving and interpersonal skills and follows up on your progress in applying them in the real world.
- They guide you through mindfulness and relaxation techniques, such as meditation, breathing exercises, and trauma release exercises.
Why Should You See a Therapist?
You may be wondering what’s the point of seeing a therapist anyway. Maybe your friend has given you some pretty useful advice in the past. A clinical therapist may be able to help you in ways you didn’t think of.
Differences Between a Therapist and a Friend
#1. Training and experience: Therapists go to school for many years and practice supervised training in a clinical environment before they can see clients. They must also pass difficult exams. These professionals have the technical skills and qualifications that your friends likely don’t. For example, a friend may give good advice, but their feedback may not be what’s needed to support your growth over the long run. They also may lack background on triggers, traumas, and past experiences deeply rooted in who you are today.
#2. Strong boundaries: Therapists are ethically obliged to maintain professional boundaries between themselves and their clients. This allows for a “safe connection based on the client’s needs.” Friends, of course, play a much different role. They have a personal stake in your well-being, and it can be difficult to artificially create a professional boundary.
#3. Objectivity: Since they maintain a level of distance, a therapist is able to see things that you miss. This objective viewpoint is critical to identifying underlying issues that friends are too involved to see or communicate. A friend may also have their own biases that they are unaware of. Therapists are trained to identify and resolve personal prejudices, so they don’t interfere with the clinical process.
#4. Confidential and trustworthy: Your therapist is required by law to keep your information to themselves, with the exception of self-harm or harm to others. Since they have such a deep understanding of the human psyche, the most disturbing conversations are safe with your therapist. On the other hand, a friend may not perceive your deepest secrets in the same way and judge you for them.
#5. Non-reciprocal: Loading up your friends with personal concerns can become a burden on them. Sometimes, you will need to listen to them in return; after all, friendship is a two-way street. However, this is not the case in therapy. Your therapist is there for you and you alone. They are not supposed to share their personal problems or information with you.
#6. Guilt-free: Therapists help you work through your problems for a living. You don’t have to feel guilty for always talking about yourself. This is your time to unravel the layers of your mind so you can better understand yourself.
Consider Getting Clinical Help Today
Therapy is a valuable tool in overcoming a drug or alcohol problem, as well as a mental health condition. In fact, psychotherapy is a hallmark of treatment programs for substance abuse and co-occurring disorders like depression and post-traumatic stress.
A licensed therapist can support your recovery through their objectivity and extensive toolbox of healthy coping strategies and life skills. Going to therapy doesn’t mean you have to give up those deep conversations with friends. Therapy is just another instrument to support your health and well-being.
Social support is a crucial ingredient for a happy and healthy life. Friends are like a safety net, catching you when times get rough. Good companions have your back and know all right the things to say…or do they? West Coast Recovery Centers is a California state-licensed outpatient treatment program for adults struggling with addiction and co-occurring disorders. We are proud to provide high-quality services through a clinical team with diverse certifications and life experience. As an organization, we believe that treatment must inspire and empower change through an individualized path to self-determined recovery. Therapy is an important medium through which we can help clients achieve this. In addition to traditional psychotherapies, we offer holistic methods such as mindfulness-based stress reduction and art therapy. Clients in our treatment programs have access to an assortment of services to aid their recovery. For more information, call (760) 492-6509.