To think talking to good friends can be just as good as a trained counsellor?(40 Posts)
And I mean really solid good friends
Kind and thoughtful good listeners
YANBU. The best ones have your interests at heart, know the history and other people involved - and love you. I’d have been lost without mine, way back.
I think you get completely different things from talking to good friends or talking to a counsellor. A skilled counsellor can unlock very deep rooted problems or patterns of behaviour through careful, highly trained questioning and discussion.
Good friends can make you feel valued and loved and can provide an outlet for stress and worries or even solutions to current problems.
Both wonderful but very different.
I think it depends on your friends and the things you need to talk about.
I found it helpful to talk to a counsellor about my innermost feelings, because they don't know and have no personal angle on what you might say, and can be challenging when needed. They role is solely to help you and not get anything back from the relationship.
I have been badly let down in the past by people I considered to be good friends, when they have betrayed my trust. This is the last thing you need when feeling vulnerable.
The relationship you have with friends is different to the one you have with a counsellor.
It depends on the friend. They may have what they perceive as your best interests at heart, but they can often be be judgemental and impose conditions of worth upon you. You may limit exploration of your feelings because you want to shield them from your innermost thoughts.
They've done studies that have shown a really committed listener is as good in terms of happiness as a psychotherapist.
But people with trauma may not have healthy, non-partisan friends with time and inclination to do the listening.
I suppose it's all based on confidentiality and trust, both with the friends you choose and the counsellor. Friends can be amazing but depending on the circle might share what you have confided. A counsellor won't have the same preconceived opinion about where you are coming from as long-term friends might. A counsellor may take a long time to understand though in comparison to a good friend.
You're completely right and I do agree - but sometimes it's not fair on the friend to lay it all on them - I've seen friends who are great listeners develop deep problems themselves because they have had multiple people come to them so then they feel like it's their responsibility. Whereas I think councillors, as its their job, are better at separating the two.
*I think you get completely different things from talking to good friends or talking to a counsellor. A
skilled counsellor can unlock very deep rooted problems or patterns of behaviour through careful, highly trained questioning and discussion*
Agree with MakeItRain
When my dd died in tragic and upsetting circumstances I couldn't open up to family and friends, although they were great I couldn't do it.
Eventually I got counselling which I found painful, but it helped me in a way family and friends could never have done.
Yes, sometimes, but not always. It depends what the problem is, for one thing.
But there are counsellors who are fuckwits, or egotrippers, or those who are incapable of keeping their own opinions out of the consulting room or just tell you to practice mindful colouring-in or whatever (this is an interesting article about the limits of therapy).
There are also close friends who are very invested in making sure you don't disturb the social group (eg if your problem is that your partner is abusive), or who aren't smart enough to understand that what worked for them when they were sad isn't necessarily going to work for you.
I went to a psychotherapist when I was having a rough time last year and literally all she said the entire time was "and how did that make you feel?" It was the classic cliche.
Any good counsellor, psychiatrist or psychologist will tell you that a good support network (friends and/or family) is vital, however friends can sometimes be too close to the problem. Also specific therapies such as CBT or DBT need specialist knowledge and training. And there's no guarantee that the first counsellor you meet is the right one for you. It's horses for courses basically.
I think it depends on the subject and the friend and how often you do this.
If you’re having a bad time then a friend who is able to listen and support you does wonders and yes could be as effective as professional help.
But I think there are some subjects better left to the professionals.
Additionally if you get into the habit of regularly consulting a friend about your issues, they might start to feel they can’t give you the support you need. Or worse they might start to feel that your relationship is one sided and they’re only being used as a sympathetic ear, expected to be strong all the time. In this scenario a professional, who is paid, wouldn’t feel that resentment.
Also I think sometimes a third party can provide a unbiased overview in a way friends might not be able to.
I have CBT last year for a phobia and I felt I could say more to my therapist than my friends as they were removed enough that i wouldn’t feel judged, or guilty for banging on about it too much.
As good as a counsellor, yes. As good as a psychologist, no.
In my experience, clinical psychologists are the only people who actually treat MH illnesses. They explain patterns of behaviour and put in place a pathway for recovery.
Those who set themselves up as 'counsellors' and offer nothing other than 'How does that make you feel' or 'You must be very upset/confused/angry' are f'ing charlatans IMHO.
Sorry, pressed post too soon...
So, you Maya's we'll talk to a good friend as talk to a 'councellor'.
I think it depends on who you are, the life you've lived and what you want from the time spent with counselling/talking to friends.
I've had proper therapy and it was life-changing in how it helped me process many things. But my childhood was quite awful, so I doubt talking things through with friends would have helped to the same degree because my needs were quite deep and severe.
YANBU, though; a close friendship group can be the best sort of support anyone gets in life. They've seen me through the absolutely awful times as well as the fabulous times and the security and confidence of them having my back is a great asset towards 'good' mental health.
A counsellor will promote autonomy where a friend is likely to offer advice, depending on the advice it may be a good short term fix but long term you may become relient on the advice from other instead of being able to decide what's best for yourself.
I sort of agree. I’ve had a lot of counselling and also talked a huge amount to some extremely close friends. I think one of the differences is that the hour with your counsellor is all yours. No need to take turns, no need to worry about going over the same issues and being a moaney bore.
My friends undoubtedly know me better but I say stuff to my counsellor that I probably wouldn’t to friends.
I’m so lucky to have both.
I've had a couple of good friends who have tried to use me as a counsellor, and it's not pleasant. The thing about the therapeutic relationship is that it's quite one way, as in you offload and the counsellor listens/helps you, but it's not reciprocal. In the context of a friendship, it makes things unfair for one party, as those seeking a counselling type relationship cannot or will not reciprocate. Both people I experienced this from has serious issues, and had both been to counselling before.
One of the things I enjoy about going to counselling is that one way aspect - it's all about me! But healthy friendships don't work like that.
I do see what you mean though about supportive friends replacing counselling in some circumstances. A friend of mine is experiencing something life changingly awful at the moment and it's her friendships that are helping her through. But whilst we do talk about it, she doesn't seek to lean heavily on us and carry her burden, she is seeking support which we are more than willing to give her.
Yes, sometimes better. Like everything there are good and not so good counsellors. Some highly qualified and very experienced. Others really not.
I think a very important point made above is the value of the one-way aspect of the counselling relationship. It's your time, your space, you don't owe the counsellor a reciprocal relationship.
They are a stranger, so have no personal investment in your decisions or actions, only a professional one. They (if well trained) are non-judgemental and able to explore issues with you from a totally neutral point. It's the counselling relationship that can/should be therapeutic, and this is very different from the loving, intimate support of a friend who knows you well.
I think ideally the two would go hand in hand. Someone looking to vent or offload after a specific incident may well just need an attentive friend to be there and listen. But if you need something deeper, or to pursue a particular course of action, a counsellor would be better placed to help you through.
The following is an extract from a counselling book based upon Wind in the Willows. Toad is having counselling from Heron.
"Heron looked intensely at Toad and realised that, at that moment, Toad's voice and appearance exactly complemented his words. For he looked and sounded, and clearly felt, like a very sad child. This sadness affected the Heron deeply. He sat quietly and tried to share Toad's memories and to experience his sadness, in as far as one person can ever feel what another is feeling. This is called empathy. Toad felt this unspoken support and understanding and it strengthened him to his very soul."
I think they can be just as effective for every day problems, but not when it comes to serious mental health issues or problems. Part of what makes trained counsellors more effective imo is that things are confidential and they're not your friend, if they feel they need to push you to open up more they will even if they know it will be painful for you.
I don't think good friends, even the best ones, can offer the specialised support that a counsellor or a clinical psychologist would. Both are important, and a psychologist can't replace friends as friends can't replace professional support. So it really depends on the issue too.
Also, it's not fair to put that kind of pressure or expectations on friends. I have a friend who suffers from depression but refuses professional help. She wants to rely on her friends and relatives. We all try, but tbh sometimes it's too hard, too much to take and most of the time it leaves us feeling useless because no matter how much we try, she's still suffering.
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