Although seeing a therapist is not a taboo for most of us anymore, many people hesitate to consult a professional mental health specialist. The fear of revealing your inner soul to a stranger may lead you to prefer speaking to a person close to you like a friend or a relative. But there are plenty of reasons your friends should not replace a mental health counselor.
1. A friend can’t be objective
When we talk about what concerns us, we mention other people involved into our lives like a husband, a sibling, etc. In case your friend is closer to you than the other person, they can only see things from your side. If they aren’t objective, their tips aren’t going to be helpful and this can make things worse. In general, when you need to solve a problem between you and someone else it is better not to use a third person as a referee.
2. Friends can give you bad advice
Being lucky to have a person to confide in is important. However, a non-qualified person can’t diagnose your condition and will give you their opinion based on what they have experienced themselves or according to what they have heard from others but with no medical background. Being mentally unwell makes it harder to distinguish good from bad advice. It is like when you are physically sick, you won’t ask an irrelevant person to tell you what medication to take.
3. You’ll have to help your friends with their problems as well
Having a lot of things in your head means you are not in the mood to listen to other complaining about their life. But don’t you think your friend is going to open up too and ask for your opinion on issues that concern them? It wouldn’t be fair to them to be the ones who offer help but have no response to their worries. Friendship is based on mutual feelings. So, if you seek for help, be willing to treat each other reciprocally.
4. You may not be friends forever
A trusted friend is a treasure, but nobody can guarantee that you will be friends forever. When a friendship ends you don’t know how the other person is going to react. If your relationship doesn’t end well, you may be afraid that your ex friend will reveal your secrets and in some cases it could lead to tarnishing your reputation or ruining your relationship with someone. A professional won’t betray your secrets.
5. Be aware that not everybody wants what’s best for you.
As mentioned above, you can’t trust everybody as you can’t be sure about the continuation of your friendship, but some friends can be dangerous even if you consider them as people who care about you. Be aware that not everybody wants what’s best for you. A narcissist wants to feel superior to you and tries to make you feel worse. Instead of helping you, they can spoil your mood and stress you out more.
6. You can confess everything to a counselor
Your best friends or family care about you and in their attempt to give you the right advice are very likely to become judgmental. Not only will this not help you but it can also destroy your bond with them. A counselor like the ones at BetterHelp counseling doesn’t have a personal relationship with you, it’s their job to hear you and you can confess anything without shame. For example, for a young person it is common to seek advice from their mother, but as we’re getting older the roles are reversed and kids are the ones who take care of their parents. An older person may not have the strength to hear that their child has a problem because for them they will always be their baby. Moreover, you can feel more comfortable to talk about your struggles to someone who will see you professionally.
7. It can adversely affect your friend’s psychology
When someone we love is in trouble, we tend to feel their problem as our own. Nevertheless, for someone who has mental issues it could affect their psychology in a negative way. Especially with the current situation with the pandemic your close ones may have problems of their own -that haven’t confessed to you or they haven’t even realized- and to burden them with your own issues should be avoided.
You should not take mental health for granted. Under no circumstances should you consider that you should not address your friends when you are not feeling well, but a professional counselor knows better how to help you ease your pain and ameliorate your life. Similarly, if you notice that someone close to you is suffering, you should give them a helping hand, but make sure to refer them to a specialist too who can help them feel healthy again.