Tatsuya Arakawa LMFT > BLOG > Q&A > The difference between therapist listening and friends/significant others listening

The difference between therapist listening and friends/significant others listening

Hello, thank you so much for reading this blog.

Here, I would love to present correct information as there is so much misinformation out there especially on the internet.

In this blog, I would like to clarify the difference between therapist listening to clients and friends/significant others listening as people get confused often.

As discussed on this blog, clients can talk about anything they want to talk about. Therapist is there to listen.

However, contrary to your experiences where your friends and significant others took time to listen to you, being heard by professional like therapist is a whole different story.

Usually, when your friends or significant others take time to listen to you, here is how it works:


You talk→They listen→they give you advice based on their experiences.


However, most of the time, you do not take actions based on their advice because most of the time, people talk about their concerns and what is bothering them not because they want advice but because they want to be heard and understood.


Well, that is what therapy is for.

Here is how therapy works:


Clients talk→therapist listens→clients talk→therapist asks questions, therapist helps you understand deeper about yourself, therapist points out some behaviors that are not aligned with clients desired behaviors, or therapist compliments you for something you deserve to be complimented about etc…


With this process, clients can

  • Gain New understanding about self
  • Have More hope to do something about their issues
  • Trust therapist more, which can help clients trust people outside of therapy more
  • Practice skills to enhance better relationships with others etc...

So, contrary to how people assume where they believe therapist is there to give the best advice, because we therapists know that giving advice is not helpful most of the time, we are trained not to give advice (unless we believe at certain times that giving advice is what is best for clients).

Moreover, therapists do not talk about themselves at all because therapy time is for clients not for therapists!


I hope this helps you understand more about what exactly therapy is.


Thank you for reading my blog.

Tatsuya Arakawa,

Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (#82425)