First of all I congratulate you for sharing, especially when it comes to a sensitive issue like this.
There are many people who are confused about the difference between seeing a qualified therapist and having a conversation with a friend. But, in fact, they are very different -- one of the main points being that conversations with a therapist are not a one-time thing.
The meeting with the professional is a regular, weekly, set meeting, for which both participants have clear roles and the therapist takes time and effort to properly prepare for.
In addition, a professional has tools that they have acquired over many years of clinical experience under quality clinical guidance (see our article on supervision and training for therapists). The patient will not always feel these tools, and to some extent, it is better that he does not, in order that his treatment does not feel mechanical or rote.
A true professional will know how to listen, chart a course, and guide the patient for as long as it takes for them to reach their goals.
At the same time, friends have an important role to play, especially if they do not take the role of the service provider. It preserves their place as friends, for all that friendship means, and it frees them from feeling responsible for taking care of you.
Dr. Jean Pizante