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Why a Psychotherapist is Different from a Best Friend: Understanding the Benefits of Psychotherapy.

It's true that everyone needs a BFF to confide in, laugh with, and be there for us during tough times. However, when it comes to dealing with deeper emotional issues, a psychotherapist is often the best choice. There are significant differences between the two.


One of the key differences between a friend and a therapist is objectivity. A therapist is unbiased and impartial, free from any personal agenda, and has no prior relationship with you like a friend. A therapist focuses solely on your emotional growth and therapeutic goals, providing an objective perspective that can help you see things in a new light. Unlike friends, therapists are trained to be non-judgmental and to validate your feelings.


Another important difference is education and clinical experience. While a friend may offer advice, a therapist provides options and insight, drawing on their extensive training and expertise to guide you in the right direction. A good therapist won't tell you what to do but will ask the right questions to help you find your own path. They'll see your strengths and help you utilize them for good, even when you can't.


Accountability is also an essential aspect of therapy. A therapist is an accountability partner, providing structure and containment for overwhelming thoughts and feelings. Knowing that you have a set time to meet with your therapist, paying for a service, and having homework to do between sessions creates accountability. This can give you a sense of control and relieve the stress of unresolved emotional issues.


Finally, boundaries play a critical role in therapy. A therapist has a professional relationship with you that enables them to confront non-growth behaviors and encourage you to grow in ways that a personal friend cannot. They are trained to recognize and respect boundaries, allowing a safe space to explore difficult emotions. Unlike friends, therapists clearly separate their personal and professional lives.


In summary, while best friends are invaluable, psychotherapy is about reclaiming the narrative of your life, embracing new ways of thinking, doing, and being, and giving voice to difficult thoughts. A good therapist can help you see things clearly, embrace new ways of thinking, find your strengths, and move forward confidently. With a therapist, you have a safe and confidential space to work through challenges, better understand yourself, and create lasting change.

Take care,

Norma McCarthy, LPC

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