Friend Vs Therapist: Who To Choose & When
Updated: Jan 24
If you had the option to talk to either a therapist or a friend, maybe most of us would choose to talk to a friend.
Friends are convenient. Most times they know us better than anyone else and they give us advice that we want to hear.
We are also under the impression that our friends care about us and want what's best for us.
Not mention that talking to a friend will cost almost nothing.
Maybe except for the fact you when they need you, you may have to return the favor.
What Is Therapy?
Therapy is a form of treatment, provided by a medical professional, whose aim is to help people understand their issues and help them remediate a problem.
People go to therapy for all kinds of reasons. Just to name a few, many people turn to therapy for (1):
Therapy can be a great thing and going to therapy should not be shameful. I am aware that most of us think that therapy means something is wrong with a person. Which is not necessarily true...
But I totally get it. Sometimes going to therapy can be “a hard pill to swallow”.
No pun intended.
Why People Don’t Go To Therapy
It can be expensive — Therapy is a service that involves you and licensed healthcare professionals. Unfortunately, the health care system in the United States (see my previous blog post “Going For Broke: The United Healthcare System of America” to learn more about it) is one of the most expensive services in the world. It’s soo expensive that people avoid accepting any form of health care services due to uphill costs.
It can be inconvenient — The process of getting started can be a hassle that most people don’t want to deal with. Such as finding a therapist in the first place. Having to book an appointment in advance. Needing help immediately. Driving to the destination. Waiting. Waiting. Waiting. It’s the little inconveniences that add up that turn people away from getting the help they need.
You don’t know your therapist — It’s almost like talking to a stranger whom you don’t know whether or not to trust (see blog post: What Is Trust? And Why Is Everyone Having Trust Issues?). No! I apologize. It is talking to a stranger. But you know what they say? “Everyone is a stranger until they aren’t.” Most people may not feel comfortable opening up to someone they don’t know.
It seems like just talking between two people. Why pay for it? — This makes total sense. Why talk to a therapist when you can find someone else to talk to for free?
Its easier to talk to a friend — In many instances, it is much easier to talk to a friend. After all, a friend already knows you.
Not having the time — Many of us feel like we don’t have enough time. We love to be busy-bees and so it can be difficult to schedule an appointment for the future. Integrating therapy into a jam-jam packed schedule can be more bothersome because it may feel like we are adding on to our list of to-dos. And trust me, I know some of you guys have a long list.
They don’t do much except listen to you and act as if they understand — This is what I see in the movies.
Why Talk To A Friend
Friendships are great and it is very important to keep and maintain our friendships throughout our lives.
In my previous blog “The Cure For Loneliness is Building Relationships”, I talk about how important meaningful relationships are to both our mental and physical health.
So if you have them, keep them. Just be aware that although friendships are great they do have their limitations when it comes to understanding your situation as well as addressing it.
Below are the pros and cons of talking to a friend.
The Pros of Talking To A Friend
It’s cheaper — Most of us like free, so definitely talking to a friend over a therapist can save you a lot.
They already know you — You can literally bypass a couple of steps that you wouldn’t want to omit at a therapy session.
They are reliable — They are friends after all.
Just a phone call away — Can be convenient. It depends on the friend though, but that’s just my experience.
They will listen to you and help you the best they can — A friend is a friend. We assume that they will have the best intentions for us.
The Cons of Talking To A Friend
You have to worry about reciprocating — If they help you, you may feel obligated to help them when they need you. If it doesn't follow through, this may cause strain in the relationship in the future.
It’s biased — The great thing about great friends is that they will always be there to uplift you when you are down. They can tell you what they think you may want to hear which can kind of be a problem. They may even protect you from hurt and avoid telling the truth because they are afraid of hurting you.
Most often friends try to solve your problem — The downside to this is that sometimes a problem doesn’t get addressed but rather it gets overlooked.
Why A Therapist?
A therapist is a licensed mental health professional who is trained to help their patient improve their lives, develop the necessary skills to cope with life challenges and situations.
It is very common to assume that therapy is not as beneficial as talking it out with a friend. After all, it’s just having a conversation with someone.
But it is actually quite more and there are some things you may get in a therapy session that you wouldn’t get in a friendship.
Below are the pros and cons of talking to a therapist.
The Pros of Talking To A Therapist
A therapist will have extensive training on how to care for you and to help you in your situation.
There are boundaries- One of the benefits of therapy is that boundaries are set in place in which a therapy session is focused on the client and their needs.
Confidentiality — Therapists are legally and ethically obligated to keep client information confidential through the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) (2). Because of this, everything you say in your therapy sessions remains confidential. If your therapist breaks it, they are at risk of losing their license. However, there are exceptions to this policy.
Therapists are non-judgemental — At least, being non-judgmental is what they practice most when listening to clients.
Less risk — Confinding in a friend about certain issues can be risky, that is if you don’t have enough trust in that person. With a therapist, the risk is significantly lower.
The Cons of Talking To a Therapist
Cost — It’s not free.
You don’t know them — You may feel uneasy about talking to someone you don’t know about your personal issues.
It is uncertain how your relationship will be with them — The relationship with your therapist is really important.
It takes time — There is really no set duration on how long it should take you to resolve issues or problems as a result of therapy. Everyone is different.
It’s a more formal setting — This could be a good or bad thing. But it also helps set boundaries.
Although it is great to be able to talk to a friend about your problems there are circumstances where a therapist may be worth the investment.
Anyways, I hope that you were able to take away from this list. Thank you for reading and let me know what you think.
When would you talk to a friend?
When would you talk to a therapist?