According to a recent article on Healthline.com, 44 million adults in the U.S. grapple with mental health matters in a given year. Who do a lot of us “talk” to? Our social media accounts: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat. But do our “friends” provide good therapy for us? Not so, says the article. Here they list 8 reasons to talk to a professional rather than your followers:
1. A therapist won’t judge you
One of the biggest perks of having a therapist? You can talk to them about literally anything without needing to filter yourself for fear of being judged. It’s basically one of the key requirements of the job.
“My job is to give you 100 percent positive regard and unconditional support, and to be completely nonjudgmental,” Kate Cummins, licensed clinical psychologist, tells Healthline.
Friends and family might not have the extensive training to keep their judgement in check on whatever you’re going through.
2. Therapists aren’t pushing their own agenda
As an unbiased third party, your therapist should be there to give the best possible guidance to you — and you alone. “The problem with friends is that they care about you and their relationship with you, so they often just agree with you to make you feel better,” says psychiatrist Scott Carroll, MD.
“Family, on the other hand, tends to advise you in ways to ‘protect you’ and minimize your risk, or [to] fit their beliefs about morals and how they think life should be lived,” he says.
These are the best-case scenarios. The worst case is that your friend or family member may actually want to control you or keep you in a pathological state for their benefit, he adds.
With a therapist, you have someone who doesn’t have the same personal stake, so they can be completely honest and objective.
3. They’re required to keep your secrets
When you choose to make your friends your therapists, you can end up putting both of you in a tough spot. Especially if you’re venting about someone they also have a relationship with, says Martinez.
While it’s important to only confide in those who you have complete trust in, with a therapist, you don’t have to worry that something you said in confidence will be turned into gossip or repeated to the wrong person.
4. Therapists have years of training under their belt to help you address the problem
While your friend may have taken a Psych 101 class, without a degree, they simply don’t have the tools to help you take action. (And even if they did, they’d have bias). “Your friends and family can listen and provide support, but a clinician is trained to understand your psychological behaviors. They can help you uncover the why,” Cummins says.
And most importantly, they can also give you healthy coping strategies, so you can change your behaviors, or move past dysfunctional thoughts or difficult emotions, she adds.
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