How is Therapy Different to Talk to a Friend

How therapy differs from just talking to a friend

When you speak to a therapist, you are speaking to someone who is trained to listen and to help you deal with your problems in a constructive way.

This means that they will help you to understand your problems and find ways to overcome them. Mental health professionals will also provide support and guidance to you as you work through your issues.

How Talking to a Therapist is Different From Talking to a Friend

Personal Relationships

Your friends care about you and want to help you, but they may not be equipped to help you in the same way that a therapist can. A good therapist can provide you with professional help and guidance that your friends may not be able to provide. They can help you explore your problems and find solutions that work for you. 


When you confide in a therapist, you can be sure that they are listening to you with unbiased and objective ears. Your friends, on the other hand, may have their own opinions and biases that could color their advice. This is not to say that your friends’ advice is always bad, but simply that it may not be as objective as a therapist’s advice. You also may feel comfortable talking with your good friends, but must be aware of biases. 

Duties of Confidentiality

Therapists are mental health professionals and therefore legally bound to keep anything you tell them confidential. This means that they are not allowed to share any information you tell them with anyone else. Your friends are not bound by this same confidentiality, which means they can share what you tell them with other people.

Tools and Resources

Therapists have undertaken extensive training and professional qualifications. With this education and experience they are well equipped provide you with tools and resources to help you cope with your problems, whereas your friends may not know where to find or how to provide such help. By talking to a therapist, you can learn coping mechanisms, how to develop a support system, and get access to resources to help you manage your problems. Your friends can be a great source of support and comfort, but they may not be able to provide you with the same level of support or resources as a therapist might.

Understanding Yourself

Talking to a therapist can help you to understand yourself and your behaviors in a way that your friends cannot. Therapists can help you to explore your thoughts and feelings, and to understand why you act the way you do.. Therapists can also provide you with support and guidance as you work through difficult life experiences. Friends can also do this but it’s a lot of emotional labor and a lot to expect on an on going basis – especially for free.

Negative Thoughts

Therapists can help you to identify and change negative thought patterns, whereas your friends may not be equipped to fully understand such patterns or know how to help you change them. Therapists can help you to understand how your thoughts are affecting your mood and behavior, and can teach you techniques to change negative thought patterns. Your friends may provide support and encouragement but may not be aware of your thought patterns or how to help you change them.

Support and Encouragement

Talking to a trained mental health professional can provide support and encouragement to help people through difficult times. Your friends may not always be available, may not know what to say to be supportive or might be going through their own issues. A therapist can help you talk through your problems and offer coping strategies.

Building a Therapeutic Relationship

Over time you’ll build up a strong therapeutic relationship, where you feel comfortable and confident in fully sharing. This is where you’ll make most of your gains. You can of course always talk to your friends for extra support. But, the level of support sometimes isn’t enough to help you through a difficult time or situation or to help you make long term changes to your thoughts and behaviors. It’s at these times where a therapist can really help make a positive impact on your life.