There are so many misconceptions about what therapy or counseling is all about.
Oftentimes, a therapist is portrayed as a silent man, sitting behind a desk, stroking his beard and mumbling, “I see,” or “How does that make you feel?” Either that, or it’s Dr. Phil’s confrontational style of advice-giving, criticizing, and raising his voice to get his point across.
Therapy is wildly different from these portrayals. It’s a powerful tool that helps people live better lives.
Here are some of the most common myths about therapy...
Myth #1: If I go to therapy, I must be broken.
Rather than being broken, it’s about being self-aware. Counseling is a tool to explore struggles, strengths, and personal beliefs so you can realize and act on your true potential.
Myth #2: Nothing traumatic has happened in my life, so I don't need therapy.
Of course, therapy can address past traumas. But counseling also helps with difficult life transitions, managing stress, anxiety, depression, relationship issues, and building self-esteem and confidence. Having had major trauma in your life isn’t a qualifier to begin therapy.
Myth #3: Therapy is just paying for an expensive friend.
The therapeutic relationship is different from a friendship. You’re paying for your counselor’s time and expertise, but the meaningful support and care you receive is the benefit.
Myth #4 A therapist will just tell me what I already know anyway.
You may feel like you already know what you need to do about a problem that is affecting your life. At times, though, you may not be able to take action. Therapy can help you get to that point.
Myth #5: A therapist is just a good listener.
The keen ability to listen is an important skill that a counselor must possess, but that’s not all! Therapists hold at least a master’s level degree, along with a clinical license. Their training and years of experience have equipped them with the knowledge, empathy, and skills to help you get through the most difficult parts of your life.
Myth #6: Therapists are critical and will tell me what to do.
Therapy is not advice-giving. Your counselor will help guide you in the direction you seek to go. Therapists see clients as individuals and don’t place clients in boxes based on what they “should” be doing. Counselors have the ability to see things from many different angles and respect and understand different perspectives.
Myth #7: Therapy is only for those with a mental illness.
People seek therapy for a wide variety of reasons, from stress to life transitions to severe mental illness. No problem is too small to see a counselor if it’s having an affect on your life.
Myth #8: Therapists think their clients are“crazy.”
Many people are fearful of the stigma associated with seeking therapy. And we get it! There’s a huge stigma about counseling in our culture. Therapists understand that all people will experience unique struggles or challenges with their mental health at some point in their lives. They are nonjudgmental. Most counselors actually go to therapy themselves.
Myth #9: I’m taking medication, so there’s no need for therapy too.
Commonly prescribed mental health medications can help reduce symptoms. They are often used in tandem with therapy to promote stability. Drugs can help alleviate symptoms, whereas talk therapy can help you work through and process issues to produce lasting change.
Myth #10: Once I start going to therapy, I will be in it forever.
How long therapy lasts is always up to you. You have the right to begin and end counseling at anytime. Some people only need a few sessions, while others choose to participate in long-term therapy. In your first encounter with a therapist, you can voice any concerns you may have about the length. Together, you and your counselor can determine what’s best for you.