Friends, family and partners can be a fantastic resource, but they are not counsellors or therapists (unless of course they are qualified as therapists but even then they're not your therapist!). We've previously looked at the myths around counselling, one of which is that counselling is 'just having a conversation' and while I would never deny that having a chat with a friend can be therapeutic, it's not therapy.
So what is the difference? Counselling takes place with a trained, professional therapist and as their client you will be their focus, they won't give advice, tell you what to do, try to make you feel better or interrupt you.
Counsellors are members of a professional body (if you are seeing a counsellor who is not this is a red flag- blog post on those coming soon), these professional bodies have ethical guidelines and strict rules about confidentiality, a counsellor isn't going to take what you've said and then go and tell their friends.
As previously mentioned therapists go through years of training, part of that is learning to pay close attention to body language and changes in your posture or vocal tone. They also learn skills to reflect, pick up on themes and patterns to help you help yourself to change and grow
A friend or family member may not respond how you need them to to your emotional responses, a therapist will hold that space for you, they will give you the time to feel your feelings and when you're ready or want to, to explore them. In therapy there is no pressure to keep your composure, or present in a certain way, or to hide how you feel!
All relationships have power dynamics and sometimes people benefit from you staying as you are, a counsellor can help you to become who you want to be.
Friends, family and partners can be excellent sources of support and sometimes they can be the reason you're thinking about accessing therapy! There are many benefits to having a support system in place and this can help to facilitate the changes made in therapy but one is not a replacement for the other! Counselling can provide a space just for you, to say and feel whatever it is that you're feeling knowing that you will be supported and encouraged
If you think that you could benefit from talking with a therapist then please do feel free to reach out for a free 20 minute, no obligation, conversation to see if we could work together