We all struggle with life’s problems: relationship problems, money problems, job problems, car problems. Bottom line is we all have problems.
Many of us have friends or family who do their best to help. Sometime, even a stranger has advice to help with our problem. This is especially true in today’s world of social media. Post a problem to your page or feed and see how many people tell you how to solve your problem. Or not.
Because we all have problems, we are often too quick to offer our help when someone has a problem. We may be the ones commenting on the post or sending a personal message or maybe, just maybe, sitting down over a cup of coffee to talk.
Whether you are receiving or giving help for a problem, one must be careful to understand that helping someone with a life problem is not the same as providing therapy. Offering assistance or advice is being a friend or a colleague, but it is not therapy. After all, you have probably taken aspirin to relieve a headache but did not begin to view yourself as a medical doctor
People often minimize the value of training received by behavioral health providers because they have helped other people. Helping someone does not make you a therapist, any more than picking up cold medicine for a sick friend makes you a doctor.
There is value in the training that counselors, social workers, psychologists, and psychiatrists receive, otherwise they would not receive training. Just like physicians, behavioral health providers are trained to recognize and evaluate problems. They are also trained to provide assistance that causes no harm. Behavioral health providers have expertise in this area. It is important to trust that expertise in treatment just as you would with a medical provider.