1. During therapy the professional therapist will usually recognize cues from your unconscious words and actions, so that these cues can be examined during the session. The therapist has been trained to guide clients in a way that maximizes the mental health benefits received and that promotes healing and positive mental health. Friends are not trained to do this.
2. Talking to friends can lead to fear of judgment by those you care about. A therapist is a stranger, someone you only see in counseling, so any stigma or shame that may be associated with mental problems or other issues may be lessened.
3. Therapy involves one or more sessions each week, allowing you to discuss things that are important or that you want to change during in depth sessions that last for an extended period of time. How many of your friends are willing to spend an hour or more at least once a week just to listen to you talk about your life and your issues? For most of us this number is 0.
4. Professional therapy involves having any negative or damaging thoughts and ideas challenged in a way that is positive and productive. The therapist is trained on how to recognize patterns that work against the outcome that you are hoping to achieve, and knows how to direct your energy in a way that will help you achieve the goals that you want to reach. Talking to friends can help you vent but this will not provide the professional feedback that you need to make positive changes in your life.