Interested in therapy, but not sure what to expect? Maybe you’ve heard some therapy horror stories, or seen some memes online that have deterred you from seeking services? As somebody who has seen a number of different therapists, I’ve learned that a lot of the societal beliefs of therapy and stigmas against therapy are entirely unfounded and untrue. Most importantly, therapy is not at all as scary as it may seem.
Here are some common myths about therapy, and the realities that I’ve learned by experience:
Myth #1: Going to therapy means you’re crazy or your issues are really serious.
Reality: The status of your mental health and the presence of or severity of any diagnoses is not a predictor of how much therapy can benefit you. I’ve been in therapy when my diagnoses were severe, but I’ve also been (and currently am) in therapy without any diagnoses at all. The only difference are the goals that you have for your therapy outcomes. When I was severely depressed and suicidal, the goal was simply to reach a state of health and comfort. Now I work on maintenance of said health and how I can avoid unhealthy habits and paths that I was once familiar with.
Myth #2: Paying for therapy is just like paying for a friend to listen to you.
Reality: Yes, therapy can be expensive, depending on your insurance and the therapist that you see. However, while a therapist is primarily there to listen to you, the relationship between the two of you is absolutely different from a friendship. One of the most important attributes of a good therapist is maintaining professional boundaries, and your contact should be restricted to therapy services only. Additionally, my therapist doesn’t just listen to me unconditionally as my friends do – she points out things about myself and things that I’ve said that I don’t necessarily notice or understand straight away.
Myth #3: Therapists are always happy-go-lucky and make you focus on positive things.
Reality: My therapist is far from happy-go-lucky, and I don’t even think that I would want a therapist who is. I believe in positivity in the context of realism, which I think my therapist embraces perfectly. When I feel like everything around me is falling apart, she acknowledges the adversities that I am facing while helping me pinpoint and focus on the actions that are feasible. She also focuses on the things I can do to alleviate my stresses and anxieties, which is not necessarily always just looking on the bright side of things.
I truly believe that everybody can benefit from therapy from time to time, no matter the state of your mental health. If you are hesitant about starting therapy, what are some things that are concerning you, or are holding you back from beginning? If you have, what are some of the things that surprised you?