Can I Be Counseled by A Friend Or Do I Need Therapy?

When it comes to seeking mental health treatment, it’s good to have a counselor you trust. But it’s not always easy to find someone who fits your needs. Here are some things to think about when you’re choosing a counselor.

The friend or family member you think may be ready to enter therapy may instead need a skilled counselor’s help before they’re able to move forward. It can be hard to tell someone you’re seeking help with personal problems—and that can be hard for anyone—but it’s even harder for your friend. Sometimes, your friend may be too embarrassed or ashamed to ask for help, or they may be in denial and not even realize it. Either way, your friend needs a counselor to help them get through this difficult and challenging time.

Why Therapy for Friends is Beneficial

Friends are constantly asking for advice, seeking direction, or simply seeking someone to talk to over their problems. Sometimes, though, friends need a little extra help. Therapy can be the perfect outlet for venting, processing, and working through difficult times when a friend needs support. Therapy is confidential so that friends can talk openly about their concerns without fear of judgment or stigma.

  1. May prevent the weakening of the relationship – Often, it’s helpful to have a friend talk to you about what’s going on with your life. When your friend is having a hard time, it can be frustrating to feel like you’re stuck in a one-sided conversation. You may feel like you have nothing to offer your friend, or you’re worried about how much information you’re giving or how the conversation will end. So, to help ease the discomfort, therapy can be a path to opt for.
  2. Builds a better understanding of mutual needs – When a friend seeks counseling, it can become awkward or uncomfortable. You’re not a therapist, and you’re certainly not in their shoes. But you can still lend a helping hand and lend an ear. Many people feel awkward or uncomfortable when they’re in counseling but you should try to be open-minded as far as possible. Counseling often consists of sharing uncomfortable aspects of your life in a one-on-one setting, and that can feel vulnerable. But by listening and offering support, you’re helping your friend gain a better understanding of mutual needs, build a stronger relationship with you, and get to the root of their issues.
  3. Develops better listening skills – It can be overwhelming getting advice from people you know, especially when it’s unsolicited. But when a friend or loved one is struggling with addiction, clarifying your expectations for the conversation is the first step to building a strong relationship. As hard as it may be, don’t avoid talking to a loved one because they don’t know how to discuss the topic. Help them learn how to be better listeners and develop better communication skills by teaching them how to speak about their needs and handle conflict.
  4. Facilitates connection and closeness – Friends are one of the most precious gifts life has to offer. To the degree friends feel seen and heard by one another, they thrive and support each other. Conversely, when we feel unsupported or unheard, we are more likely to feel depressed and anxious and cope with life’s challenges in isolation.
  5. Creates space to address concerns – If you’re in an emotional or health crisis, a friend can be a safe, judgment-free place to address your concerns. A friend will hear your concerns and questions, help you navigate your emotions, and support you in working toward your goals. A friend will help you determine your values, clarify what you want out of life, set goals, and come up with a plan for reaching those goals. Whether you decide to see your friend once or twice or just for advice, they can help you get to the root of the problem and guide you toward a happier life.
  6. Helps with unresolved conflict – Having an unresolved conflict with a friend, lover, or spouse can be one of the hardest things to live with. It’s bad enough that you don’t have a solution, but how do you get help in resolving this conflict? Try asking a friend for advice. While your friend may be able to offer some solid suggestions, remember, they can only offer you their own ideas. What you need to do is get your own answers. And oftentimes, therapy can help with that.

We’ve all had moments where we’ve felt lost in a crisis. Whether it’s trying to talk to a parent about things, facing an embarrassing situation, or struggling with intellectual depression, we’ve all felt lonely at some point in our lives. Other times, it can seem as if your friend is the only person we can talk to. But, does your friend have the professional expertise you need to solve your problems truly? Or are there other options that you should consider apart from some friendly advice?

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