9 Myths About Therapy
- My problems aren’t serious enough for therapy/Therapy is only for people who are crazy or weak.
Therapy is actually for anyone wanting feedback and support for whatever they might be going through. “Crazy” doesn’t really have a specific meaning and can downplay emotional experiences, which we all have as human beings and are actually very normal. Therapy works well for both everyday problems and as well as more serious mental health issues. Sometimes going to therapy actually takes more courage and strength than not going!
- A therapist will force me to discuss things I don’t want to talk about.
Therapists are there to help you work through your problems, and will respect your wishes. They’re not mind-readers, so you may need to clearly communicate what you do and don’t want to talk about. Expressing these wishes, even in the first session, will help your therapist tailor services to your wants and needs. Sometimes your therapist may tell you that they think it would be beneficial to discuss things you don’t want to – be open to their reasoning but respect your own boundaries too.
- I can fix my problems on my own.
Sometimes we think we’re a failure if we can’t resolve mental or emotional problems on our own. But we wouldn’t think twice about calling on a professional to help with a plumbing problem, or a broken down car. Try reminding yourself that getting a professional often means the problem gets fixed more efficiently.
- Therapy is too expensive.
Therapy can be expensive depending on your health insurance coverage (or lack of) and financial situation. Try applying for Medicaid or an insurance plan with better behavioral health coverage. You can speak directly to the agency asking if there’s a sliding fee scale or an intern you could see. Many counseling education programs offer a way for you to work with counseling students being supervised for free.
- I don’t need therapy – My friends/family are my therapists.
Friends and family, support systems in general, are fantastic. They offer support and advice, and a safe space to share struggles. But sometimes our friends don’t feel capable of handling our problems. Or they have problems of their own they’re trying to figure out. Or, let’s be honest, they get tired of hearing about the same problem over and over again. Therapists have extensive training that your friends and family don’t and may help you resolve those problems more effectively.
- Couples therapy is only for those heading for a divorce.
Couples therapy can be helpful for a couple considering divorce, by giving them a way to get clear about their wants and needs in the relationship. It can also help a divorcing couple separate in a healthy way and effectively sort through issues that come up in the divorce process. But couples counseling can also create more open communication, help you better understand your partner, and improve your happiness in the relationship.
- Is therapy really confidential?
Yes. With a few important exceptions. Therapists are required to break confidentiality when there is a safety concern. For example, if your therapist has reason to think you are a danger to yourself or others. Child/elder neglect or abuse is also something your therapist will report to outside agencies. Different states have different confidentiality laws about minors in treatment so check for specific details related to your state. Remember to ask about this in your first session with your therapist until you feel that you have a good understanding of the times that your confidentiality might be broken.
- Psychotherapists make clients feel immediately better after each session/Therapy will make you feel bad.
There are parts of the therapeutic process that can sometimes make you feel sad, embarrassed or vulnerable which sometimes we label as “bad” feelings. There are other parts of the process that can help you feel empowered, happy, relieved, successful, etc – we often label these as “good” feelings. It’s kind of like a child with a skinned knee. The cut needs to be cleaned for it to heal, and sometimes the cleaning process hurts! Exploring “negative” feelings can create positive results in the bigger picture.
- All therapists are the same.
Just like a doctor, therapists all have different training and areas of specialty. And just like doctors, they all have a different bedside manner. It’s important that you and your therapist are a good fit, so shop around for someone with training in the areas you need and whose personality fits with the experience you’re looking for. Some questions you can ask to help decide if you want to work with a therapist are:
– What training have you had?
– How long have you been a therapist?
– Have you worked with people who have problems similar to mine?
– What should I do if therapy doesn’t seem to be helping me?
– What kind of therapy do you think would help me and how long will it take?