‘Luckily I’ve got a friend that I can talk to, I don’t need Counselling!’ I have thought this myself at times and it might be true for certain situations. There are however clearly challenges where you cannot expect your friend to take the place of a therapist or you will jeopardise your friendship.
I can talk to my friend
We all hopefully do have a special someone, either a friend, family member or your partner, that you can talk to no matter what. These are the true gems in our circles, those who have the gift of active listening mastered without necessarily being a therapist. Some of them might just listen, some might give you support, some might even give you suggestions on what to do. Depending on what it is you need, you will feel very comfortable and feel supported by this person.
So why would I need to see a therapist?
Friendship is based on an interchange that is somewhat balanced. You will rarely feel comfortable for long with a friend who talks non-stop or who gives you advice when you’re not ready to hear it. You might even feel quite the opposite of friendship if that person curses the boyfriend who just left you but you still dearly love.
A therapist is someone you pay to fully attend to you, to actively listen with compassion to your troubles. Usually, he or she doesn’t share his or her opinions about your recent boyfriend or give you advice but help and support for you to find out what you need and want to do next.
But my friend understands me
How fantastic – keep talking to them and sharing the beautiful journey of your friendship. Seeing a therapist doesn’t mean that you suddenly have to stop this mutual understanding with your friend. A therapist is always something additional, a support person outside your system, someone who doesn’t know the boyfriend or the boss, or whoever you have a challenge with. This means that the therapist and your session will be on neutral ground and therefore allows exploration as opposed to finding who is right or wrong or applying judgement.
You’re still talking about that?
In general, people often need to talk about a serious challenge for a longer time than their friends are capable of hearing. Imagine meeting your friend for coffee and for years they complain and moan about the same thing.
Giving your issue the time and space it needs with a person dedicated to assisting you in moving beyond is the biggest difference in the relationship with a friend or with a therapist. Your friend might like you to move on, but is rarely equipped to help you and neither is it the purpose of the relationship.
A skilled therapist will feel like a friend and you will know whether he or she is a good fit for you once you have given it a chance. Have a phone or email conversation with them, get a feel for how they speak to you, what experience they have, how well they listen to you and address your questions. In the end, only you will know, when and whom you want to trust with helping you overcome your problems.