By Carissa Weber, MA, LPC, CSAC
Let’s be real. Mental health therapy has been stigmatized for a very long time. There are so many myths, lies, and secrecy shrouding this awesome resource. I think it is time to break those beliefs down.
You guys have asked for it, so I’m giving it to you. This post is all about why people don’t go to therapy.
Myth #1: you have to be “crazy” or “weak” to go to therapy.
This isn’t accurate at all.
Think about a problem you have faced in the past. Did you struggle through it, or did you find a way to solve it?
Therapy is a powerful resource that helps you:
- process life stressors you are facing
- create a healthy work/life balance
- improve self-esteem
- increase your ability to effectively communicate
- tackle roadblocks in your path that keeps you from living the life you want
Going to therapy doesn’t mean you’re “screwed up.” In reality, it means you are a resourceful person ready to problem-solve.
Myth #2: therapists are just friends you pay to listen to you.
This simply isn’t true.
If you consider your therapist to be one of your closest friends, you most likely have something called a dual relationship. What’s that? A dual relationship is where two people engage in two different types of relationships at the same time. This unethical relationship can form between therapists and clients as clients share some pretty vulnerable information with their therapists.
Therapists spend years of education and training to ensure that:
- they are unbiased
- they are not judgmental
- they can recognize the need and enforce boundaries to help you stay on track with your progress to your therapy goals
- to support you in a healthy way
It is easy to consider your therapist your friend as you spend a lot of time with them, talking about your struggles. Remember, therapists are here to help you conquer your mental health struggles. We are caring individuals that want to see you succeed and will help you get the tools you need to succeed.
Myth #3: therapy is just a place to vent and rant
Mental health counseling is so much more than that! Yes, there is a certain degree of sharing frustrations and concerns, but therapy offers you a way to create a resolution.
Therapy is a place to:
- learn about yourself
- gain helpful ways to navigate conflict
- increase your self-confidence
- decrease feeling alone
- improve how you cope with stress
- and much, much more
Myth #4: Therapy doesn’t work!
When you want to feel better, like, now, it really can seem like mental health therapy isn’t working.
Let me let you in on a secret….
Therapy works in more than one way.
1. your healing is not going to look like your friend’s healing process. Your brain is unique to you, which is why your therapist may suggest different things than your friend is doing.
2. A therapist may be able to help you find relief in some fast-acting coping skills. To help them work even faster, you have to practice them outside of the therapy session to have the progress you want (and need)
3. mental health counseling is tough work! It requires a commitment to change that seems so darn messy and complicated. Therapy is one of those things you get what you put into it.
I get that therapy can feel anything but warm and fuzzy. That doesn’t mean it isn’t working. It means you are healing!
Myth #5: There has to be something wrong with you to go to therapy
Therapy is not just a great way help you get healthy and understand your mental health, but also stay healthy. For many, therapy gives you a place to:
- process things happening in your life (including changes and stressful situations)
- receive a new perspective on a current situation or thought
- learning to communicate your needs with friends or at work
- check-in on any potential concerns before they become problematic
- practice self-care and self-love
- identify where you need to set boundaries in your life to stay healthy
You don’t need to have a diagnosis in order to be in therapy (although insurance companies often require therapists diagnose you with something in order to use the benefit. Another reason why I currently do not accept insurance). All you need in order to go to therapy is the desire to improve your life.
Remember, therapy is tailored and individualized to what your needs are. Some days, that means taking time to vent about recent frustrations. Other days, it is about actively learning (and practicing) new and healthy coping skills. Some days are all about processing those tough feelings. These are all needs you have and are part of the therapy journey.
Myth #6: Therapy just offers distractions and doesn’t solve the problems
Therapists train for years to use science-based skills that help you:
- decrease your mental health symptoms
- manage stress levels better
- rewire your brain to be less stressed
It’s true. Although some therapists do not explain the science behind why they are telling you to do certain skills, there is evidence behind each skill we teach.
Who would have thought all of these myths could be debunked? Thank you so much for reading today’s post and understanding more about not just how therapy can help you, but about the different ways therapy works. Know of a therapy myth you want debunked? Comment below!