There are so many outdated misconceptions about what therapy is. Don’t believe these 9 myths about therapy.
There are about 200,000 drug-abuse related deaths annually worldwide. Suicide takes the lives of nearly 30,000 people in the US each year. What can be done about these tragedies? Mental illness prevails in almost all cases. Although it’s not always an option and it’s not flawless, therapy has enhanced and saved many lives. Yet myths and stigmas about therapy inhibit many others in need from ever seeking support. It’s time to address these damaging misconceptions so that more individuals feel safe enough to receive help.
1. Going to therapy means I’m crazy and weak.
This toxic myth is a symptom of a society that values discipline and progress over self-expression. It could not be further from the truth. Let’s break down the two suspect words here:
Crazy. Is there such a thing as crazy? Crazy implies that there’s such a thing as normal. We’re blessed with so much wonderful diversity on this planet that normal simply cannot exist. There are chemical imbalances, disorders and traumatic events that create an infinite mental spectrum. That’s not crazy, it’s life and science.
Weak. It takes strength and determination to attend sessions, open up and be willing to grow. It’s so courageous to take action and refuse to stagnate. Consider a therapist an emotional coach. It’s a team effort. You would never consider an Olympic star to be weak for taking guidance from their coach.
2. The therapist will only focus on my childhood and past.
The health of a tree can be determined by its roots, but the bark and leaves are just as essential. You are the sum of all of your parts. That’s why the right therapist will seek to understand your past while respecting your present and striving towards your future.
3. The therapist will be horribly shocked by my problems and will make me feel more guilty.
Your therapist has witnessed plenty and will keep an open mind. Many grief counselors have suffered personal loss, and many addiction therapists are recovering addicts themselves. They want to listen, offer guidance, and support you on your road to recovery.
4. The therapist will take notes and offer little feedback as I talk the entire time.
TV therapists may run their sessions this way, but most therapists encourage open dialogue. This builds a safe, honest flow of feedback and growth. They may need to jot details down on occasion, but it’s often so they can think on it beyond the session. That being said, verbally expressing your emotions is powerful; it offers perspective, helps untangle thoughts, and weakens the grip of pain. To process our feelings into words puts them in a language we better understand.
5. The therapist won’t be realistic or will think ‘one-size-fits-all’.
My colleagues and I have undergone extensive training; we’re passionate and knowledgeable about addiction and mental health. We also know that each addict is different. Your addiction, circumstances, goals and life journey are unique. We’d never slap a label on you or assume we know instantly what’s best for you. We strive to help you become a healthy, happy human being. Your therapist will get to know you before exploring a realistic and workable treatment plan.
6. The therapist only cares about making money rather than helping me.
I know it’s tempting to run away from therapy because of the cost, but many insurance plans cover some treatment options, and some therapists offer sliding fees based on income. Addiction is cruelly expensive; it devastates your emotional, social and financial health and may even cost your life. There is nothing more valuable than your happiness. As for therapists, the opportunities we have to enrich or even save lives are priceless. For those of us that have grappled with addiction and mental illness ourselves, we seek to alleviate that pain in others because we don’t want anyone else to go through it.
7. I’ll be stuck sitting on a boring and uncomfortable sofa during therapy sessions.
You can meet your therapist in an office, but your therapist might suggest group, play, pet, or adventure therapy. These activities put new recovery and relaxation techniques into practice. Safe, enclosed settings can be very therapeutic too, so please experiment with your therapist to discover what best suits you.
8. I don’t need therapy because I have friends.
Friends are wonderful but they aren’t trained professionals and they’re often too “close” to you. They may not be able to offer you the honest, impartial insight a therapist can. In some situations, certain friends can also be toxic to your recovery and mental health. A therapist will help you identity this and help you take steps to a healthy lifestyle.
9. Therapy never ends.
Therapists know that everlasting therapy is not practical or productive. They want to equip you with the tools you need to enjoy a wholesome life and progressive recovery. Whether your therapy is short-term and long-term, therapists want to establish a relationship with you that promotes healing and caters to your personal needs.
I hope that this information has provided some enlightenment. As a society, we need to progress towards a more empathetic, aware and proactive approach to mental health and addiction.