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8 Reasons Why a Professional Therapist Is Better Than Your Friends

7 minute read


We’ve come to a unique place in society where we’re finally destigmatizing mental health issues. People are not only willing to admit they’re having some problems, they’re more apt to seek professional health.

The bad news is some people are replacing qualified mental health care with conversations and the internet. Rather than seeking the care they need, people are turning to their friends and relying on advice from the internet and social media.

While there is definitely something to be said about having a solid support group that can guide you and help you in times of trouble, you certainly don’t want them replacing actual medical treatments.

Personal Support, Professional Treatment

The internet and social media are similar in that they can provide invaluable information and connect you with support groups. Support groups are a phenomenal way to connect with other people who have had similar diagnoses or symptoms. It helps remove feelings of isolation and that fear that you’re alone with your suffering.

| Related: How to Help a Depressed Loved One Without Harming Yourself |

But, while a support group can provide important insight on possible medical advances and treatments based on their individual experience, they should never be used to replace a therapist or doctor. Each person is unique and while symptoms may be similar, treatments may not.

The following eight reasons give you more insight into why you shouldn’t trust your mental health and well-being to your friends, family, and people on the internet.

1. Confidentiality Is the Law: Medical health professionals are legally required to protect your confidentiality. You can trust that anything you say to them in confidence will be kept just between the two of you.

2. Years of Training: There’s no doubt that some people are just blessed with a great ability to listen and provide empathy and support. But there’s no replacement for actual mental health training and professional expertise.

| Related: What Happens in the Brain When You Have Depression? |

Listening is part of the equation, but knowing what to do with that information is a vital ingredient in the recipe for success.

3. Judgement-Free Zone: We don’t want to undervalue those closest to you, but sometimes they can’t help but pass judgement when you unload your deepest, darkest fears and mental burdens. It’s actually because your life intertwines with theirs that they feel this way; how you feel affects them.

4. No Agenda: Your mental health professional is working to do what’s best for you. Just by the very nature of your relationship (their unbiased point-of-view) they are closer to helping you than your friends and family.

It’s often difficult for people close to you to accept and understand that you have situational mental illness or an ongoing concern. Without even trying to, they can be minimizing your experience just to fit their mold of how you should react and what’s happening.

5. You Come First: No matter how much your friends love you, there are going to be times when they just don’t have the time to give you what you need. The modern world is a hectic one, and even your closest friend with the very best intentions will have days where they need to focus on their own lives.

| Related: Do Antidepressants Cause Withdrawal? Symptoms & Side Effects |

With a therapist or mental health professional, you are their top priority during your visits. This is your time, and you should never feel guilty about making these moments all about you.

6. There’s No Rush: Have you ever heard someone tell you to get over it already? Maybe you’ve even felt that way about someone else who is constantly rehashing an event or a feeling.

| Related: Why Weekly Volunteering Helps Fight Loneliness and Depression |

This may be a typical reaction for lay people, but it will never be the reaction of a professional. They understand that each person is different and dealing with mental health issues takes time, especially if there are underlying causes and complications.

7. Avoid Bad Advice: Whether good intentioned or not, there’s simply a lot of bad advice out there.

This is one of the greatest advantages of speaking with a therapist, they take the time to understand the entire situation, they’re armed with an arsenal of information regarding current diagnoses and treatments, and they are removed from the situation, so they can put the pieces together to provide the best support and treatment.

8. Get More Out of It: While chatting with your best pal about a break-up might feel incredibly cathartic and may help you get over it, it might not be the best thing for you. Rather than simply getting over the break-up, you could use this event to grow as a person.

Imagine all that you could learn from this situation, given the right insight and guidance. Whether you need to be a better partner or learn to pick better potential mates, a therapist can help you see all sides of the issue.

The Bottom Line

While we are currently in a better era than before in terms of acceptance of mental health, we’re still not finished. A qualified therapist is more than a friend and offers more benefits that talking to your friends, as you can see from the above list.

Building your own circle of support is essential to a healthy and happy life. Adding a therapist to the mix can only help you in the long run.

Friends are a vital part of a happy and full life. They add joy, understanding, and can be your strength and support when you need it. But friends should never be used as a replacement for trained mental health professionals when needed.

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