Q: What is the difference between talking to a friend and talking to a therapist?
A: You might wonder what is the difference between talking to your friends and talking to me. With me, you can talk freely without worrying about how I will react or how I might be affected. The session time is your time and the focus is on you. As I learn more about you, I will listen to your situations more through your values, cultural lenses, and worldview. You will feel that you are being heard and understood. Another difference is that I can keep you safe, when you decide to share your difficult stories with me. I know when to slow you down or which tools to offer you, so that you will not become overwhelmed.
It makes sense that our fear of judgment or feelings of shame could get in a way of seeing a therapist. Dr. Brene Brown, who studies shame and vulnerability, explains beautifully how to eliminate shame in her Ted Talk. She says, “If you put shame in a Petri dish, it needs three things to grow exponentially: secrecy, silence and judgment. If you put the same amount in a Petri dish and douse it with empathy, it can’t survive because empathy’s the antidote to shame.” I create an empathetic space where you feel safe to freely talk and you comfortably take your time to decide what to share with me.
The one additional and very important difference in talking to me versus your friends and family is that the information shared with me will be protected by strict confidentiality rules.