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Do I Need A Friend? Or A Counselor?


Many times the question of needing a friend versus a counselor comes up in the counseling office. At what point does our need of support transition from one to the other? And is a counselor just someone that you are paying to be your friend (don’t tell me you haven’t thought that, we all have)? This line is often tricky to differentiate, so here are some helpful tips and tools to help understand the difference and build understanding for when a counseling referral may be needed.


First, let me say that friendships are of the UTMOST importance. If the last 1.5 years has taught us anything—we were built to be in community and we need each other. We do not do well on our own. A healthy friendship brings with it a myriad of important benefits and I am not here to devalue that gift. A friend can provide a listening ear and an empathic response. A friend can be angry, sad, frustrated, or joy filled with us. Furthermore, we benefit from the encouragement and advisement of those who see our hearts and know our situations well. A friendship can be the most soothing salve to a weary soul. As a clinician, I cannot begin to communicate how grateful I am for the people in my life who fill this role. However, there are several indicators for when a different kind of support or help is needed.


A counselor exists to help when someone feels immobilized by their scenario in some way. Counselors, unlike friends, can provide an objective lens to the situation. Counselors can also apply their countless hours of experience with other individuals. Through their experience and training they have the capacity to discern patterns in both thinking and behaviors. Counselors push past what is being said in their office while also dissecting what is not being said as well. Clinicians are trained to equip clients to make different choices, rather than tell clients what choices to make. This will help clients as they change their thinking patterns through skills such as cognitive reframing and addressing their past maladaptive decisions and consequences. Thinking patterns change as they learn new information about themselves understood now through the counseling process.


Another distinguisher in the friendship versus counseling relationship pursuit is found in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual aka, the encyclopedia of diagnoses. Throughout nearly all diagnoses there is a common qualifier—behavior “inhibits previous/normal functioning.” While this specifier may seem subjective, a friend or family member can help with the discernment. Questions to ask would be similar to “Has your level of functioning changed significantly from the past? Are you unable to go to work or engage with your family? Are you overwhelmed at even the thought of change? Were you able to do these things previously—and how long ago?” If the answer to any of these questions is yes, it might be time to call a clinician.


Do you want to make change? Do you feel stuck? Countless times people come to the counseling office to dump their feelings but they don’t have a desire for change. Additionally, some clients are unaware they are clients until they are driven up to the office—being surprised into a counseling appointment is not something I recommend. An intervention is far different from a counseling appointment, and if a client is not interested in making change, all parties will be frustrated and work will not be accomplished. If you are feeling stuck and want help because your efforts don’t seem to be working or you easily fall into old patterns and hope feels lost, counseling could be a great help. If you notice that your friends and family are less and less interested in supporting you, or you have lots of ideas and conflicting ideas of which to pursue—a clinician can help sort those things out with you.


Counselors are here to help when someone feels stuck and is struggling to move out of their stuck spot. Counselors can provide tools, direction, and insight from an objective lens. Build a healthy support system, but work to know when your support system needs a new team member in the form of a counselor for a time. It can be a great help.





Our 5th Annual Golf Classic, presented by Metcalf Auto Plaza, is quickly approaching at Adams Pointe Golf Club in Blue Springs.


We still need a few more things to make this our biggest event yet, and you can help! Here is what we need:

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For questions or silent auction item drop off, please contact Athena Brattin at athena@peacecounseling.org or call 816-272-0653.




We want to thank each of you for the part you play in allowing us to provide high-quality, affordable counseling services for at-risk children and families. We couldn’t do it without you and the life change you help provide through your giving is making a generational impact!

  • Thank you, Wise Women, for your generous donation that will help those in need. We are honored to be selected as your 1st quarter non-profit donation recipient.

  • A special thanks to Children’s Services Fund of Kansas City for your 2nd quarter grant support.

  • Thank you, StoneAmp SEO and Friends of Rick Brattin for your golf tournament premium hole sponsorships.

  • We are grateful to Main Event, Zarda Foods, Third Street Social, Main Slice, Fun Services of Kansas City and Lee’s Summit Symphony for their silent auction donations.

  • Thank you to Zak Hill, Porky Products and Central Bank Midwest for your golf team registrations.

A special Thank You to our faithful monthly supporters: Brandon & Vanessa Blanchard, Cory Young, Jenny Glasgow, Craig & Samantha Compton, Roger & Jennifer Madsen, John & Vicki Hefner, Tamara Stroud, Church at Coffee Creek, Stone Amp SEO, John & Keshia Otradovec, Zane & Melissa Morerod, Matt & Kristy Newton, Jondy & Heather Britton, Rick & Jan Britton, Diane Smith, Rick & Kathy Daulton, Scott & Lydia Hurley, Kevin Quinn, Dan & Gigi Rippee, Mark & Cathy McGaughey, Mike & Tracy Pruitt, Linda Hartman, Lone Jack Baptist Church, Brent & Amanda Miller, Clayton & Pam Wooldridge, Demi Raveill, Jeff & Lacey Cherry, Andre & Rose Fantasma, Jon & Naomi Thompson, Jon Brody, Dave & Rosie Bourland, and Greg & Jennifer Spears.


We appreciate you!


If you would like to become a partner, please visit our Donate page or contact Athena Brattin at athena@peacecounseling.org or call 816.272.0653.






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