You might be wondering why you would talk to a stranger about your problems, when you could talk to a friend instead. People ask me this question quite often, which is why I decided to address it in this post. There are a few reasons that I would recommend engaging the services of a counsellor instead of just using one of your mates as a sounding board, and I promise, I am not just saying these things because I am a counsellor. Hear me out.
1. Your friends are likely to only tell you what they think you want to hear.
You know what it is like. You don’t want to disagree with your friends and upset them. Supporting them in their actions is the right thing to do. Right? Well, not necessarily.
A common example of things going a little haywire, is when a relationship breaks down. A good friend will join forces with you, rally around and agree with you when you start one of your seemingly never-ending tirades. (You know those ones…)
- “He was such a useless boy/girlfriend!”
- “I never really liked him/her anyway…”
- “Don’t worry, there are plenty more fish in the sea.”
- ‘Oh my god, I cant believe he/she did that? What are you still doing with them?’
Have you ever heard your friends say something similar?
Perhaps you have used words like this when comforting a friend? If so, don’t panic. This doesn’t mean that you aren’t a good support person or that your friends don’t mean well. There is a time and a place for this type of thing and honestly, it can feel wonderful to know that the people around you have got your back.
Unfortunately, though, this can mean that the smaller, more vulnerable part of you that needs healing and nurturing can be overlooked. I commonly see this thing happening in a relationship where there has been a betrayal of trust. This is actually something that couples can work through and come out stringer from if they both want to, but not according to the vigilante friends who want to burn the guilty party at the stake! A separate impartial party like a counsellor, can help you sort out how you truly feel about a situation and which way you want to progress. Often, friends have too many of their own opinions that can get in the way of you finding your truth.
2. A counsellor is more equipped to help you than your friends.
A good counsellor is not only trained, but also has practice in holding space and providing support so that healing can occur. Think about it. You wouldn’t go to a veterinarian if you had a tooth-ache. You would seek out help from a dentist. An expert in their field. The same goes for counselling.
Counsellors use techniques to provide support, open discussion and seek out answers to your underlying problems, as well as those that are bubbling away on the surface. This means that if you are having relationship issues, for example, a counsellor can gently guide you to identify your part in a relationship dynamic so that the same problems don’t occur again in your next relationship.
3. A counsellor won’t tell you what to do, or disregard your feelings.
Have you noticed that sometimes your friends provide you with advice when you talk to them about what’s going on in your life? This is an incredibly common scenario, especially if the people in your inner circle are solutions-focused. Maybe you have also found that some of your friends disregard what you are going through because you don’t fit the profile, or even because they are going through something themselves?
- “Here’s what you should do. Throw all of his things on the front lawn.”
- “She doesn’t deserve you; you should totally send her a text and tell her it’s over”
- “Don’t be ridiculous; you’re not depressed! I’m depressed. Have I told you what happened last week?
Do any of these sound familiar?
Now, don’t get me wrong. I am not, in any way, suggesting that your friends are not helpful, or part of your support network. But like I have mentioned, sometimes friends just don’t know the right thing to say.
This is where your counsellor comes in. A counsellor is not there to tell you what to do. Nor will they ever disregard, diminish or invalidate your feelings. Instead, your counsellor will provide a safe space for you to talk about what is bothering you, and through careful questioning, they will help you to uncover what is really troubling you (sometimes all is not as it appears!). A counsellor may also provide you with coping strategies and techniques to manage your feelings and move forward in your situation in a more calm and deliberate manner. That is value that your friends simply cannot provide.
4. Your counsellor is a member of your team.
How would it feel to have a team of people to support you through whatever is holding you back? Well, your counsellor is an invaluable member of this team. As I’ve mentioned, I am in no way suggesting that you shouldn’t rally your friends around during times of trouble. Feel free to grab a cocktail (or a mocktail!) with your friends and engage in some cathartic moaning about your problems.
I am, however, suggesting that you work with a counsellor as well – use your counsellor’s support, encouragement, guidance and methods to get back on track and take control of your position. Remember, your counsellor is trained, experienced and contracted to support you through what you need to work through.
So, have I convinced you? Finding the right therapist for you can be incredibly beneficial. Whether you have tried counselling before or you are a total newbie, I can help. Click here to book your first appointment or get in touch if you have any questions!