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Misconceptions About Therapy

Updated: Sep 7, 2020

Author: Morgan Viessman, CIT

It can be scary and even intimidating going to therapy. Some might say that you are “weak” or can’t handle your problems on your own. Others might think it’s a great thing to do because you are caring for yourself. Everybody has something they need to talk through, and therapy is the perfect place to do this. Sometimes a particular situation brings out the worst in you, and you need to work through that during therapy; which is actually a normal thing.

One thing that we have to remember is: it’s okay to not be okay.

Sometimes talking about a problem can feel very overwhelming and mentally draining. It’s important to remember why you came to therapy and why it’s so important to you. Therapy is a process, and does take time; remember to be patient through this process.

Some common misconceptions about therapy are:

1. Thinking it’s a one-way conversation

2. Only for people with a mental illness

3. Only makes the presenting problem worse

4. Selfishness

5. I don’t want anyone “telling me what to do.”

6. Couples therapy is for people getting a divorce

7. I can’t always rely on family and friends.

Therapy is about a therapist and client talking through things and finding the best solutions for client. It may be intimidating when therapists don’t always respond immediately, but this might also be a good thing. Some therapists, myself in particular, think through things in their head and start to process it there before bringing it up to clients. Doing this allows me to really think about what’s best for my clients. Yes, it still might seem like therapy is a one-way conversation, but your therapist doesn’t see it this way.

Some people might even consider therapy to be selfish because you are taking time to work on yourself. Working on yourself is a healthy process. It can be scary doing this, and you might think you don’t even have time to worry about yourself; make that time. It’s okay to be selfish sometimes and worry about healing yourself.

Asking your therapist, “what should I do?” is an understandable question to ask because sometimes it can be tough to see the right answer. Although we might be wanting answers and solutions immediately, we soon find that talking it out with a therapist and going over those options it often becomes clear what the best solution/answer are. It’s also important to understand that therapists won’t always give answers but rather have clients find the best solution for themselves. There isn’t going to be a fix right away; therapy is a process and takes time. Remember to be patient.

I get a lot of questions regarding couples’ therapy and who it is meant for. Couples can come to therapy for a multitude of reasons, yes some being divorce but sometimes not. Sometimes couples want to work on how to communicate better and really work through their issues that they might have. It’s okay to see a couple’s therapist and work through those issues because it’s healthy and can even improve your relationship with your partner. Sometimes couples can wait too long to get help from a couple’s therapist, but if they are willing to work and change,then that change might happen.

Lastly, I wanted to mention family and friends. While it is very important to have a social support system outside of therapy, sometimes it’s not the best option to always talk to them. Our family and friends aren’t licensed professionals and might not know exactly how to help when its needed. It can be kind of intimidating for a loved one to have the reputation of “family doctor” even though they aren’t properly trained. Some clients can also feel like a burden to their loved ones and don’t want to constantly bother them with their “problems.”  As therapists, it is our job and also our pleasure to be there for our clients, it’s what we love to do. While it is okay to talk to our loved ones and have that support system, remember that they aren’t trained to help in the proper manner.

With all of these misconceptions about therapy, it can still be a scary process talking to a stranger, but this might even be comfortable because ultimately, there are no biases in the room. It’s okay to be selfish sometimes and heal yourself because your mental health is an important thing no matter the misconceptions. Therapy is made for everybody, no matter the situation you are in. Therapists are here to help, and we are always learning and improving ourselves to be better for our clients. It’s okay to make that leap and reach out to a therapist.

Remember that the reason that we are here is because:

It’s okay to not be okay.

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