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How Is Therapy Different Than Talking With Parents and Friends? Clinical Psychology Episode.

I know don’t need to tell psychology students and psychology professionals about the difference because we sort of just know them. However, if you work in clinical psychology or mental health then there may be times when 1) people challenge your work because they see therapy as pointless and people only need to talk to their friends and parents. 2) you might get a client that needs this to be explained to them. So this episode should be useful to you regardless.

This episode has been sponsored by Formulation In Psychotherapy. Available from all major eBook retailers and you can order the paperback and hardback copies from Amazon, your local bookstore and local library, if you request it.

How Is Therapy Different From Talking With Parents and Friends?

Most of the time when we experience a difficulty, talking to our parents and friends is all we need because they know us, they know how we think and they know our friendship groups so they are bound to know us very well.

Because of this, parents and friends are likely to do some helpful things:

· Take sides

· Add their opinions

· Comfort us

· Say comforting things to us. Like, everything will be okay and there are plenty more fish in the sea.

· Change the conversation to take our minds off our “troubles”

· Compare our story to others. Such as if you’re telling them about a break up, they might recall someone else telling them about theirs and compare the two.

Overall, this can be great for our mental health because sometimes all we need is to talk to someone and vent. Then the other person may just tell us their opinions, offer some lay advice and comfort us.

I think we can all think of various times when this is all we’ve needed. For me, this has been after traumatic events (but I would still unofficially recommend therapy for really traumatic events) as well as after bad results at universities.

However, this is all well and good but this isn’t enough sometimes and sometimes we need the extremely skilled touch of a therapist to help us.

Why Is Talking To A Therapist Different Than Parents and Friends?

Furthermore, if we build upon the last section, a therapist is very different than talking to parents and friends because they have different priorities and they have training your parents and friends don’t.

Granted as this podcast is mainly aimed at psychology people, our friends are likely to have trained. Ha!

Anyway, when a client talks to a therapist, a therapist can help the client to learn more about themselves, their difficulties and how to improve and they can provide more in-depth support than a friend or family member couldn’t.

Then depending on the therapeutic model the therapist uses, a number of things could happen afterwards. For example, if you have a Cognitive Therapist then they can help the client to change their faulty thinking patterns and improve their lives and mental health that way. Whereas a systemic therapist would focus on the family system.


Overall, the difference lies in parents and family members are mainly for comforting and tell you everything will be okay. Whereas therapists have two “simple” jobs, they’re there to alleviate psychological distress and improve lives.

With therapists mainly doing by the therapeutic alliance and using their psychological expertise in conjunction with the client. Of course depending on the model in question. I love this area of clinical psychology and that’s why I cannot recommend Formulation in Psychotherapy enough.

I want to finish this episode by saying that both friends and family and the therapists are needed by our clients. Since they need us (the psychology professionals) to apply our psychological expertise to their difficulties and themselves. Yet they still need the social support of their family and friends so what we do has long term benefits.

I really hope you enjoyed today’s clinical psychology episode.

If you want to learn more, please check out:

Formulation In Psychotherapy. Available from all major eBook retailers and you can order the paperback, large print and hardback copies from Amazon, your local bookstore and local library, if you request it.

Clinical Psychology Reference:

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