Understanding support: Friends vs therapy

In our journey through life, we encounter various challenges and triumphs, and navigating these experiences often involves seeking support from others. While friends and therapy both offer avenues for support, they serve distinct roles in our lives. Understanding the differences between having friends and going to therapy can help individuals make informed decisions about their mental health and well-being.

Image

The role of friends

Friends are an integral part of our social network, providing companionship, empathy, and shared experiences. They are individuals we choose to spend time with, share our joys and sorrows, and rely on for support during difficult times. Friendships are built on mutual trust, understanding, and a shared history.

Emotional support

Friends offer emotional support through active listening, providing comfort, and offering perspective on our problems. They validate our feelings, offer advice, and help us see situations from different angles.

Social connection

Friendships provide a sense of belonging and connectedness, enriching our lives with shared activities, laughter, and camaraderie. Social interactions with friends can boost our mood, reduce stress, and contribute to overall well-being.

Informal guidance

Friends may offer guidance and advice based on their own experiences and perspectives. However, this advice may be biased or limited by their own knowledge and understanding.


The role of therapy

Therapy, on the other hand, is a professional relationship with a trained therapist aimed at addressing psychological issues, improving mental health, and promoting personal growth. It offers a structured, and confidential space to explore thoughts, feelings, and behaviours.

Professional expertise

Therapists are trained professionals with expertise in psychology and counselling techniques. They offer evidence-based interventions tailored to individual needs, drawing from various therapeutic approaches.

Objective perspective

Therapists provide an objective perspective, free from personal biases or judgments, helping clients gain insight into their thoughts and behaviours. They offer support while challenging unhelpful patterns and facilitating self-discovery.

Confidentiality and boundaries

Therapy sessions are confidential, creating a safe space for clients to express themselves without fear of judgment or repercussion. Therapists maintain clear boundaries, ensuring a professional relationship focused on the client's well-being.


Key differences

While both friendships and therapy offer support, there are key differences in their roles, dynamics, and outcomes.

Purpose

Friends offer informal support and companionship in daily life, whereas therapy is specifically focused on addressing psychological issues, improving mental health, and fostering personal growth.

Expertise

Therapists possess specialised training and expertise in mental health, offering professional guidance and interventions tailored to individual needs, whereas friends may provide support based on their own experiences and perspectives.

Objectivity

Therapists provide an objective perspective, helping clients gain insight into their thoughts and behaviours, while friends may be influenced by personal biases or limited understanding.

Confidentiality

Therapy sessions are confidential, ensuring privacy and trust, while conversations with friends may not always be kept confidential.


Both friendships and therapy play important roles in our lives, offering support, connection, and understanding. While friends provide valuable emotional support and companionship, therapy offers professional guidance, objective perspective, and specialised interventions for addressing psychological issues.

Understanding the differences between the two can help individuals make informed choices about seeking support for their mental health and well-being. Whether through the comfort of friends or the guidance of therapy, reaching out for support is a crucial step toward healing and growth.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Counselling Directory are reviewed by our editorial team.

Share this article with a friend
Image
Rochford SS4 & Southend-On-Sea SS2
Image
Written by Gosia Grabowska, MNCPS (Acc.) Parenting, Family Issues, LGBTQ+, Couples
Rochford SS4 & Southend-On-Sea SS2

Gosia is a bilingual therapist originally from Poland. She loves to travel by train and is curious about people's stories and experiences. She is passionate about navigating relationships, supporting parents, and addressing LGBTQ+ and cultural diversity issues. Her sessions are available both online and in person.

Show comments
Image

Find the right counsellor or therapist for you

All therapists are verified professionals

All therapists are verified professionals