A common misconception which confuses public awareness is that talking things over with friends is the same as going to therapy. While it is true that the empathy and support one receives while talking honestly with a good friend is therapeutic, psychotherapy involves more than just having a sympathetic ear.
First, a therapist is one who listens without bias or personal involvement. A counselor is a neutral resource who does not have a personal investment in the choices you make.
Second, a therapist gathers information about you in order to make a clinical diagnosis, that is, to understand the underlying issues which are causing the unpleasant symptoms you experience.
Third, a therapist and client agree to a therapeutic plan which includes specific steps to resolve the problem you’re having. The goals of therapeutic talk is not simply to understand or support the client but also to enable and assist them in making important changes.
Finally, the therapeutic relationship differs from a social friendships in that it deals exclusively with your problem and is time limited. When the problem is resolved, therapy ends. Having good friends along with a therapist is a great combination that can lead to satisfying change and growth.