I suppose that this next section could be attributed its own import or could be grouped with the them of "core rules," about which I have previously written. At this moment, I wish to afford it its own accord for no real reason other than not, at this time, interesting myself in the subject or theme previously mentioned.
It is worth speaking about the difference between the station of the therapist and of friend or confidant. It is useful to have close characters whose opinion is trusted and whose advice sets future paths and current hearts more true. Were this enough for an outside element to not be needed, such factors and close friendship-based or familial relationships would prove enough for most people. Indeed, for some, this is true. Somehow, some lucky or clever people find a group of friend or are born into a circle of kin who so enrich them that someone like me is unneeded. I do think that this is not altogether normal (perhaps better said: usual), though I do have my own envy when I meet such a person.
Allow me to put the question more plainly: What is it that requires a profession like mine to exist? What can I offer that a mother, father, sibling, or friend cannot? Why is it that these people cannot practice this ideal? Is this a thing that they can learn? Is it the core of "good therapy"? I hope to answer these questions and any others that enter my head during this scratching.
I posit that the main difference between the two stations is willingness. Frequently, a family member or a friend will only go so far in digging down on a topic (possibly due to self-preservation, personal guilt (especially if that topic is perceived as having something to do with them), or even disinterest, depending on the definition/foundation of that relationship). A therapist's willingness can be based on any number of things, including worry or concern, monetary gain (their paycheck), academic curiosity, or even banking on the fact that they are the therapist and are therefore allowed to be more nosy than the normal person.
It is important to note that the training of the therapist increases the usefulness of this willingness. Sure, parents can be just as willing to help their children, but do they have the specific psychotherapeutic experience that can make a deeper delve truly worthwhile (or even possible)? Therapists are trained (to some degree or another) to engage a client in such a way that encourages change or insight. A parent might, through sheer connection or willingness to discuss, pursue a problem right up to the door or portal of a good interpretation, but they most likely do not have the prowess to interpret (or perhaps their station disallows such a transaction). Does a friend understand the nuances of Freud, the clarity of Rogers, or the direct ideas of Ellis?
We as therapists must be willing to engage a client in such a way that anything that is thrown at us is fair game. We have to be able to not say "no" to any request for insight or skill-building. Others stop; we do not. We want clients to reach resolution and following their paths to an end that requires mere analysis or concludes treatment. We follow them with a smile and encouragement. We are also the people who take hold of the shovel when the client is tired and dig deeper, hoping to retrieve more. Our title gives us the permission to do this.