Why talk to a therapist instead of family and friends?
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People often consider that they can rely on their friends and family for support, and often they can. There are also times where an individual questions whether friends and family are the best people to be confiding in about personal concerns. Additionally, friends and family may also feel the need to suggest that the person seeks alternative resources for guidance. This is when a therapist would be an appropriate next step, but how does a person know that a therapist is going to be any more helpful than someone they know.
There are advantages to talking with friends and family:
- They are often people an individual has known for a long-time and feels safe and comfortable with to share their concerns
- Friends and family often have intimate knowledge of a person’s past, and how they have typically coped with situations. This may help remind a person about negative patterns in their behavior
- Friends and family may cheer us up by distracting us from our issues with humour, talking about similar experiences they have had or by simply agreeing with our perspective. This can be very helpful in the moment
There are also disadvantages to talking with friends and family:
- They may not be as trustworthy as we would like and may share our concerns with others because they didn’t know the issue was intended to be confidential
- If we use our friends and family for therapy too much, then they may resent us and feel taken advantage of. This could ultimately damage the relationship
- They may offer advice that may be biased because they don’t want to hurt our feelings, or they may not want us to change because they are benefitting from who we are currently
- We may hear advice from friends and family that hurts our feelings, and this could lead to problems in the relationship
- Friends and family will have only so much patience and time to listen to our issues
Therapists have years of training in dealing with a variety of issues and concerns. Some of the advantages of seeing a therapist are:
- We offer a safe and non-judgemental environment, offering unbiased guidance, while keeping the relationship professional.
- The hour is completely focused on you, so you don’t need to feel guilty for taking up our time
- Therapists may improve your relationships with friends and family because they can help you work through issues that you were leaning on them for
- We can help you identify unhealthy relationship dynamics or areas where stronger boundaries need to be set
- We can also help you increase your self-awareness, identify negative beliefs and patterns, and enhance your coping skills for dealing with difficulties in your life, ultimately leading to greater self-confidence and self-esteem
- We can also offer resources that you may not have been otherwise aware of
Therapy can be costly, but we can offer reduced rates for those who do not have insurance coverage and are struggling financially. The cost may easily outweigh the impact of stress, anxiety, depression, relationship conflict, and reduced self-worth and confidence that come from our past experiences and daily struggles. It will also decrease the pressure on friends and family to be our sole support systems.
Heather Nolin, MC, is experienced in the areas of anxiety and self-esteem, plus many more. For more information on Heather and her work, click here to link to her full bio page.