Do I need a therapist or a friend?

In my own life, I’ve had times when I’ve contemplated, “Is this really something I need to see a therapist for or should I just talk to a friend?”  Sometimes friends are the answer.  But sometimes you may find that a friend just may not be able to provide you with the support or confidentiality that you need. 

Friendship connections are key to a healthy emotional life.  Therapists provide a slightly different role in your life. 

  • Your therapist doesn’t share a social network with you the way your friends do.  As a result, a therapist is able to provide you with an unbiased and nonjudgmental space.  
  • Therapists are clinically trained with empirically-validated methods and tools to help you be your best self. 
  • Your therapist is there to help you be your best self and overcome limitations from your past. Friends sometimes have expectations about who you are which may limit becoming the person you want to be.  
  • Friends often don’t have the emotional bandwidth to walk through big, life transitions.  For example, deciding whether or not to stay in a relationship is often not a one time conversation and has a lot of complicated and emotional components to it. 
  • Your friends may not challenge you because they are concerned about damaging your relationship. 

You always need your friends.  But sometimes you also need a therapist.

Written by: Jackie Dunagan