Your Questions Answered
How is therapy different from talking to a friend?
education, training, experience
A licensed clinical psychologist has spent years learning about human behavior, relational dynamics, and effective interventions in graduate school and through over 3,000 hours of closely supervised clinical training. To become licensed, one has to take and pass both a Board of Psychology exam and a state-issued exam after earning a doctorate in clinical psychology. Therapists are trained to listen in order to understand, encourage new ways of thinking and self-reflection, recognize and identify unhelpful patterns, highlight blind spots, recognize unique strengths and and help you build upon them - all in order to support lasting change and growth. Friends and family can provide incredible support, love, and empathy, however a therapist can provide objective expertise in helping you understand your symptoms or concerns and provide interventions to reduce your distress.
objective and always focused on you
Therapy is designed to help you discover and achieve what you truly desire, and not what anyone else wants for you. It is a space where you can explore, without fear of upsetting a loved one or being judged, how you are feeling and what you are thinking. Therapists will meet you with an objective response, different than someone in your life who may have a stake in choices that you do or do not make.
clear and defined boundaries
Your therapist will be there for you at a determined time and location, focused and ready to listen to you. Therapy is also not free, like talking to a friend. This investment in attending to your well-being on a weekly basis will likely increase your motivation and dedication to make the changes you are seeking.
Unlike friends and family, we do not expect anything from you emotionally other than your engagement in the therapy process. Your relationships with friends and family are important! They are "two-way streets," however - therapy is "one way only." Therefore, time is dedicated and limited to one person - you.
Therapists are ethically and legally bound by the rules of confidentiality. Not only are you permitted to share without fear or worry that what you say will be shared by your therapist, there may be experiences or feelings you are simply not comfortable talking at length about with the loved ones in your life. The confidential nature of therapy creates safety and security.
*While talking to a therapist is different from talking to friends and family, it is ideal to be using as many sources of support during our times of need as possible. Friends and family can provide us with love and support when we need it most