Why can't I just talk to my friend? Why go to a therapist?

Why can’t I just talk to my friend (or mom, or sister, or partner)? Why go to a therapist?

Great question!  Talking to a friend, sister, or partner sometimes is enough.  But sometimes it just doesn’t cut it. When things are really challenging and the struggle has been going on for a long time, leaning on friends and family may not be the best way to work through your problems.    So why can’t you just talk to your friend, partner, sister?

First, your friend, sister, partner, mom can’t be impartial.  These are people in your life who know you very well. When you talk to them about your stress, your depression, your anxiety, it is impossible for them to be impartial.  A therapist can provide you with a safe space to explore your feelings, gain insight into what is going on, why it is going on, and can help you to identify a clear path towards feeling better.  Coming to therapy is not just about venting your problems, it’s about experiencing those feelings, learning to understand them, and working through them so that you can move on and put them in the past.  

Second, more than likely your friends and family will want to fix the problem for you.  That is wonderful, kind, and totally understandable. If I saw my friend or daughter hurting, I’d want to fix it too.  But if the problem was an easily fixed problem, you would have already done it. Going to therapy allows you space to really explore patterns in your relationships, in your moods and feelings.  Therapy helps you to gain clear insight into how some of your choices and actions are impacting your mood and feelings. Once patterns are identified and goals for feeling better are set, then the process of learning how to change some of those patterns starts.  There is never any guarantee with therapy, sometimes you feel worse before you feel better. A therapist can not promise you that you will feel better but most people that go to therapy report gaining some value from it.

Lastly, your pain may be too much for them to manage.  Think about it. When we witness someone we love struggling, it’s like a dagger to the heart.  Their pain becomes our pain. This is the same for your mom, your sister, your partner. It’s one thing to have a bad couple of days and to struggle.  But when a big problem comes up, a really tough one that you’ve maybe struggled with for a long time, a problem that brings you some deep pain, it may be a lot for your friends or family to keep holding that pain for you and with you.  A therapist is a person that is there to sit with you when you are going through tough situations and feelings. A therapist is a trained professional that knows how to walk with you into those dark places and have those tough conversations.  A therapist can hold space for you, hold your emotions and struggles, so that when you are with your partner or your family or your friends, you can really be present with them and enjoy them.

I’m not saying don’t talk to your friends and family.  In fact for many things friends and family are just the right amount of support, but sometimes people need a little more support.  

I offer a free 15 minute phone consultation and would be happy to talk with you about how I might be able to help.  Because I work online I am able to meet with clients all over California and Missouri. If you are located in California or Missouri and have been considering therapy call (619) 383-1900 or email gwendolyn@gwendolynnelsonterry.com to schedule your free 15 minute consultation.