Unfortunately, therapy still remains a shrouded subject, and many myths persist. The problem? These misunderstandings can prevent people from seeking help and getting better.
Below, Tim Gunner, reveals the realities behind nine myths about therapy and therapists that just won’t go away.
Psychotherapy - Myths and Facts
Myth: Therapy is for people with serious issues.
Fact: There’s no shame in wanting a better life and if you leave things thinking they aren’t serious enough for therapy chances are that they will become more serious.
Myth: People who go to therapy are weak.
Fact: We all experience emotional and mental issues at times. Having emotional or mental health concerns is often seen by some as a negative thing. Many people have issues and not fixing your own problems could be viewed as weak. Seeking help for your problems means you’re taking action and often requires more strength than staying stuck or in denial where you are not addressing your issues.
Myth: Therapists are all warm and fuzzy,
Fact: Most therapists are encouraging and empathic, and some therapy models emphasise this warmth of support more than others, but certainly not all therapy works this way. Some therapists challenge their clients in order to raise awareness.
Myth: Therapists are only in it for the money.
Fact: If therapists were really in it for the money, they would’ve picked better careers. Therapists who thrive in this work have an inbuilt respect for humanity and aren’t primarily driven by the money
Myth: Therapy is common sense.
Fact: You often hear the argument that therapy is pointless because all therapists do is use common sense and knowledge. Common sense is wisdom that applies to everyone; however, therapy is individual and gives wisdom and insight which is unique to you.
Myth: Therapy is unnecessary when you can just talk to good friends and family.
Fact: There’s a common belief in our culture that simply the support of a good friend can substitute for therapy. Social support is important for everyone, especially when you’re super stressed. Friends give love, support and wisdom that can be invaluable but therapy is very different from relationships with friends and family. We are highly trained professionals who've spent years learning and practicing how to provide interventions and work with cognitive, emotional, behavioural and relational issues. Also, in therapy each session is private and confidential, you don’t have to worry about what you say, you can talk about things you may not dare to with friends and family.
Myth: Therapy is too expensive.
Fact: Price prohibits many people from seeking therapy; our fees vary using a sliding fee scale based on income and other factors.
Myth: Therapists can help only if they've been through and experienced the same thing.
Fact: Everyone's experiences are unique; there’s a common belief that in order to truly help someone, you must have experienced and overcome the same struggles, if you haven’t been there, you won’t be able to understand. Some therapists will have a personal history of therapy, however, experience, knowledge, professionalism, focus, empathetic and facilitative listening is far more beneficial to the client
Myth: Therapists choose this field to fix their own problems.
Fact: Most therapists have a personal reason for picking this as their profession whether it’s a good experience in our own recovery and therapy, a deep curiosity about human behaviour and people’s issues or a passion for helping those in need. Whatever the initial reason the goal of helping people have happier lives is most common. Most of us have spent a very long time exploring and resolving our own issues in order for us to be fully present and useful to our clients. If a therapist isn't able to make their client’s issues their top priority, they probably won’t succeed at being a therapist.
In general, remember that every therapist is different. If you don’t feel comfortable with one practitioner, find another one. Shopping around is a smart way to find a good therapist that is perfect for you.
About the Author - Tim Gunner