JWhile the action of speaking is similar, the key difference is that we are having a very different type of conversation when we are talking to a psychologist as compared to a friend.
Here are five reasons why.
Safety first! We don’t have to come out if we don’t want to or are not ready to, or if it’s not safe for us to.
Being mindful of our own thoughts
A psychologist is bounded by a professional code of ethics to maintain confidentiality (except in certain cases of harm which would first be discussed and agreed on with the client).
This would allow you to speak about thoughts or fantasies that you might find rude, selfish or intolerable that you might be hesitant to discuss with a friend. Moreover, as the conversation ends at the end of each therapy session, you do not need to fear getting an opinion, comment, solution, advice or judgement at other times when you do not plan to speak about your issues.
2. Experience and Training
The journey to becoming a psychologist is around 10 years for a doctoral-level psychologist and 8 years for a masters-level psychologist. This includes a bachelors, psychology specific work experience, graduate school and years of supervised clinical training. Most psychologists also undergone therapy themselves to understand their own issues, and continue to seek supervision and further training after they graduate.
This allows a psychologist to be comfortable with using different techniques to work with you and choosing the most effective techniques for you.
Having being in therapy themselves and resolving their personal issues, a psychologist will be able to notice if they are getting influenced, refocus the attention on your issues, and maintain objectivity in your conversation.
Our past and present relationships often have a part in shaping how we approach issues. By not having ties to your friends or family, and no emotional stake in their relationships with you, a psychologist has the liberty to help you explore the impact of those relationships on your life, while remaining objective.
4. Safe space to explore
WThe reasons above come together to provide you with a safe space to explore your personal issues without the fear of judgement, or the need to appear coherent or logical. This is often helpful when you are having confused or mixed feelings about an issue. Your role in the conversation is to unload your thoughts from your cognitive backpack, and your psychologist’s role is to help me unpack, reorganise and make sense of your thoughts.
5. No need to worry or feel bad
Finally, as your conversation with your psychologist only lasts the duration of session, you do not need to be concerned about the contents of your conversation spilling over to other areas of your life.