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Why talking to a therapist is different from talking to a friend

If you are going through a challenging time, your first thought might be to seek support from a close friend. While there are benefits to getting support from a friend, speaking to a therapist provides a different type of value than talking to a friend. So, how is talking to a therapist different from talking to a friend and what makes it so therapeutic?

Here are some differences between the support that you get from a friend and the therapeutic relationship.


First of all, therapists are legally and ethically obligated to keep your secrets, thoughts and feelings confidential. When speaking with a therapist, you don’t have to worry about what you speak about getting back to someone else. Also, because therapists are obligated to keep your secrets confidential, you are offered a safe setting where you are not being judged and where you can be free to explore your emotions.

Unbiased Support

There’s a reason why your best friend is your best friend - they always have your back. But this can also be a setback. When speaking with a friend, they might not always be honest with you for fear of hurting your feelings. Due to the personal relationship that they have with you, they might not always see things clearly and might miss the opportunity to truly help, which can make it hard to move forward and make any positive changes. When you speak to a therapist, you have someone who is looking through an outside lens. Since they have a therapeutic relationship with you, and not a personal one, they can provide unbiased guidance which can help you change your life in a positive and meaningful way.


Friends may provide great insight and provide experiences that you can learn from, but therapists have the training, experience and knowledge that is grounded in research, clinical awareness and education to help you truly create the outcome that you are looking for. More than often, friends might not even know how to respond to your issue or react to your emotion, and this is due to a lack of experience and knowledge. Therapists do more than just provide a listening ear, they can also help you process and explore your thoughts and feelings, establish the root cause of your problem, identify unhealthy thinking patterns and behaviours, and help to identify coping strategies in order to find healthier ways of being.

Our friends can be a wonderful support system, however, talking to a therapist allows us the opportunity to truly be heard and to explore our innermost thoughts and feelings in a safe setting without being judged or getting biased opinions. Talking to a therapist also allows us the space to truly get a better understanding of ourselves, which can be empowering and life-changing.

If you would like to speak to a therapist, contact Mia Tamlin. Mia Tamlin is a Canadian Certified Counsellor who is trained to help clients with a variety of concerns including anxiety, depression, relationship struggles, self esteem issues, stress, and managing life's transitions. She can help you problem solve your challenges and come up with ways to improve your relationships, overall well-being and mental health. Contact her to learn more!

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