By: Quique Autrey, LPC Intern
Many people choose not to see a therapist because they believe they can receive the same benefits from talking to a good friend. Since therapy can be a financial and time commitment, some reason that talking to a friend about their issues is the smartest option. Talking to a trusted friend may be what one needs in a specific situation, and therapy may not be for you. However, before you opt out of therapy consider some of the reasons why therapy is different than merely talking to a friend.
Therapists are Trained Professionals
Therapists in Texas undergo years of rigorous schooling, training and supervision before they can practice. A licensed therapist in Texas needs to complete a Master’s degree that includes courses on psychological development, family dynamics, addiction, human sexuality and many other relevant subjects. You may have friends who are familiar with these topics, but it is unlikely they have graduate level training in these fields.
Therapists are also trained to listen and have expertise around the process of encouraging self-awareness and personal growth. Your friend may be a good listener, but odds are he/she is used to giving advice.
Therapists do not give advice; they guide the client through a process of gaining insight and making decisions for themselves.
Therapists Strive to Be Neutral
Your friends are rarely objective or neutral about important personal matters. They are not supposed to be. An ideal friend is one who is deeply invested in the shape of your life. They have beliefs, opinions and a significant stake in your decisions. An objective or neutral friend would not be a very good friend at all.
Therapists care deeply about their clients, but they are not invested in their lives like a friend would be. Therapists promote the physical and emotional well-being of clients at all times; they do not impose their values on clients or suggest specific courses of action. Therapists listen, provide feedback and encourage clients to pursue their own chosen goals.
Even the best of friends can be judgmental or enabling of unhealthy patterns. Therapists seek to be nonjudgmental of a client while helping them return to their professed values.
Therapists are Confidential
Therapists work hard to foster a safe, confidential space where clients can reveal and explore the parts of themselves they would hesitate to share with anyone else. When a client experiences an identity crisis or marital struggles, he/she may not feel comfortable sharing those realities with anyone they interact with in daily life. Most of us have revealed an intimate part of our life and then heard about it from someone we did not originally share it with.
Therapists are legally and ethically bound to protect their client’s confidentiality. Sometimes we need a person, outside our usual circle of friends, to empathize with us and help us process our struggles. If you are looking for a competent and objective individual who will protect your privacy at all costs, you might consider reaching out to a therapist.
Quique Autrey is available to help you. He specializes in men’s issues, adolescent males on the Autism Spectrum and OCD. Please contact his office to discuss your therapy needs or arrange an initial consultation.
Check out Quique’s Blog here! http://tellmeaboutit.quiqueautrey.com