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Why Your Friends (and Facebook) Can Never Replace Therapy

    In the past year alone, mental health awareness has greatly increased. The media, as well as social media, has played a huge part in this. More people are now opening up about their mental struggles online, and mental health is being widely discussed in workplaces as well as dinner tables. 

    Why your friends and social media can never replace professional therapy

    This is not surprising as recent data from Mental Health America (MHA) shows that over 44 million Americans—which includes those living with limb loss—have a mental health condition. More importantly, the data also shows that more Americans in 2019 are insured and have access to the proper care channels.

    Today, younger generations increasingly view therapy as a crucial part of maintaining a balanced and healthy life. Because of the existing health insurance model in the US, some people still see mental health as tertiary care. In light of the number of struggles we face in life, going to a therapist should be considered as “preventative medicine,” no different than having your sugar or cholesterol levels checked every year. 

    Despite the increased awareness, seeking help from a therapist still carries a public stigma, which is why people who need professional help choose to turn to friends, family, and even social media. 

    If you think you can benefit from professional help, yet hesitate to see a professional, take the time to understand what's holding you back. Are you embarrassed to ask for help beyond what your family or friends can provide? Or maybe you don’t see the value in paying a licensed therapist to help you work through your issues. 

    These eight reasons may help change your mind and seek therapy from a professional instead of your Facebook community.

    1. Therapists don’t judge you.

    One of the perks of talking to a therapist instead of someone close to you is that they won’t judge you. It’s a critical job requirement. Talking to friends or family won’t be the same as they don’t have the extensive training to keep their judgment in check. 

    2. They don’t have a personal agenda.

    A therapist doesn’t have the same personal stake in your life as a friend or a family member so you can count on them to be completely honest and objective. They are an unbiased third party that can view your situation with stark objectivity—a valuable quality for when you need unfiltered guidance.

    3. Therapists have years of training to help you address your issues.

    Therapists are equipped with the knowledge and experience required to help you manage stressful issues surrounding your amputation. They can help you manage any depression or move past difficult thoughts and emotions. While talking to a friend may bring some initial relief, they don’t have the tools needed to offer actionable insights.

    4. Your secrets are safe with them.

    Choosing to unburden your stress to someone you’re close to can put them in a tight spot, especially when you’re venting about someone in your circle of friends or family. With a therapist, you don’t have to worry about stressing someone out or finding out that your problems are being spread like gossip.

    5. You won’t have to worry about appearing “needy.”

    Personal relationships often require give and take. Toxic relationships develop when one party feels that they are continually supporting the other without getting any in return. With a therapist, there’s no such expectation, which allows you to get the help you need without holding back. After all, you (or your insurance) are paying them for their time and expertise.

    6. There is no such thing as a problem that’s “too small.”

    You may have encountered this situation before: You talk to your friend or family member about something that has been bugging you, but they tell you to “just move on.” This is referred to in the therapy world as “minimizing problems.”

    While they may think that they are helping you by minimizing your problems, that is often not the case. Therapists understand that different people experience and process life events differently—a skill set that is helpful when it comes to helping you cope with limb loss. Therapists know that each person functions according to their own timeline. Furthermore, therapists are trained to spot signs of other serious mental wellness issues such as depression or anxiety. They would know how to handle it and not brush it off like some of your friends may.

    7. Talking to people you’re close with might make you feel guilty. 

    You may have people in your life who are great listeners, and you gravitate towards them. However, they may tend to internalize your issues which can lead them to become depressed. This dynamic is common in parent-child relationships. By talking to a therapist, you're not burdening a close friend or family member with your wellness issues and possibly adding stress to their lives.

    8. Therapists can help you grow as a person.

    Because of their extensive training, therapists are uniquely equipped to give valuable insight into your behaviors that can help you grow in ways that might not be possible on your own.

    The Bottom Line

    Everyone processes problems and issues in different ways, and each one of us operates on our own timeline. Therapists are trained to recognize and respect these unique differences. Talking to a therapist is your best bet when it comes to preventing wellness issues from escalating into more serious mental health problems. Best of all, they have valuable insights that can help you grow as a person and maximize your potential.

    While talking to family and friends (or venting on social media) may seem like the path of least resistance for managing wellness issues, these avenues may not be the ideal for you. When you do decide to seek professional help, here’s how you can find a therapist that’s right for you.