Counselling Vs. Talking to a Friend
Counsellors often hear clients saying that they didn’t seek therapy prior because they typically talk about their feelings with other friends. Some counsellors might have even heard their clients saying that talking to their friends is free!
However, talking to a counsellor is drastically different from having a conversation with a loved one. If you are deciding on whether counselling is for you, particularly because you already have a sound support network, consider these factors:
- Counsellors are trained professionals. Although the questions you hear your counsellor asking you might seem casual, counsellors typically have a purpose behind each and every question they ask. These questions are intended to (a) process your thoughts and feelings, (b) facilitate the uncovering of meaning and reflection on your life experiences, and (c) seeking an understanding on how they might have an impact on your life. So as you can see, a good friend might demonstrate support and show that they care for you, but a counsellor will assist in developing insight that may ultimately guide your present and future behaviours.
- Counsellors are objective. Unlike friends that have a stake in your life, counsellors don’t. Counsellors are trained in being aware of their biases, and ensure that their own values, beliefs and biases don’t influence their work.
- Focus is ONLY on you. Both you and your friends might share each other’s struggles and tribulations, but a counsellor will always focus on YOU! There might be times where a counsellor shares information about his or her own life, referred to as self-disclosure, but even in those times, the counsellor’s primary aim is to use that information for your own benefit, i.e. to assist with the goals that you have set out for counselling.
- Counselling is confidential. One cannot deny that some friends will take your secrets to their grave; but it is also true that almost everyone have some things that they will never disclose to friends. It is these things that therapy gives a safe environment to explore. Therapy can be a safe place to dig deeper into those aspects of yourself that you might not feel comfortable sharing with other friends.
- No judgements. A therapist is required to take a non-judgemental stance in their approach, which might help you in exploring aspects of your life in a safe environment. This is not to say that friends are judgemental, but in therapy you will never have to leave the office wondering whether your trust will ever be violated, or that the therapist might use the information you provided to them against you.
These are merely some elements that you might want to consider when exploring the relevance and impact of counselling. In order to learn and explore more, feel free to contact any of the counsellors and arrange a free 20-minute phone consultation.
Farah Premji, MSc., is a trained EMDR therapist and is experienced in many other areas. For more information on Farah and her work, click here to link to her full bio page.