How Counselling Is Different From Talking to a Friend
You’re not just getting another opinion. Everyone has an opinion. You’re probably tired of hearing opinions. Sometimes they help, sometimes they just muddy the water. There’s an old saying: opinions are like farts, everyone else’s stinks. Talking to a friend can be a great way to get more opinions, but opinions don’t solve problems on their own. In therapy, you’re not just hearing another opinion. You’re learning how to figure things out for yourself.
There is nothing you can say that will make me think less of you. As the playwright Terence once wrote “I am human, I consider nothing human alien to me.” I’ve never met someone who I didn’t like after getting to know them deeply. That’s not necessarily the case with talking to a friend. Friends aren’t taught to withhold judgment and they are far more prone to gossip. In therapy, the whole relationship is built around confidentiality and withholding judgment. This allows a space where people can feel free to talk about their innermost thoughts without fearing my reaction or that other people will find out.
You will learn proven strategies. Therapy isn’t just about venting, it’s about learning proven strategies to address issues in your life before they get worse or become a pattern. A good therapist will be up to date on the most recent research literature to ensure you are learning the most effective and proven strategies available.
Counselling is a process, not a one-time conversation. A good therapist knows that change is a process and we need to be patient and follow the process if we want to see results. Counselling sessions build on one another, they’re not usually as simple as a one-time conversation. During that change process, your therapist often has a vision of the change that is possible for you, even when you can’t see it yourself.
Counselling is about what’s best for YOU. The therapy relationship is different from a friendship in that it’s entirely focused on maximizing YOUR well-being. While it may seem selfish to talk about yourself for an hour with a friend, in therapy it’s expected. This takes a lot of the pressure off of people who feel awkward talking about themselves too much, or those who are worried about burdening others.
Counselling provides an outside perspective. Lastly, one of the biggest advantages of a therapeutic relationship is having an outside perspective. Friends often say what they know you want to hear. A therapist isn’t as concerned with saying what you want to hear, they’re more concerned with what is actually helpful.