Throughout my time practicing as a therapist I have heard a number of pervasive rumors about therapy. After hearing these myths time and time again, I have decided to debunk them. Below are a list of therapy myths and the truths that actually accompany them.
1. Myth- Going to therapy is for the weak.
Truth- Millions of people every year seek treatment for their anxiety, depression, addiction, grief, and trauma. These people are not weak, but simply human. We all have situations in our lives, both positive and negative, that have made us who we are today. Working with a therapist to deal with symptoms of our depression, our cycle of relapse in addiction or the recurring thoughts of our trauma does not make one weak, but courageous.
2. Myth- Real men don't need therapy
Truth- At any given time 1 in 8 men are diagnosed with a mental illness, including depression, anxiety, panic disorder, etc. These illnesses can worsen with time, and impact everything from relationships and jobs to physical health and family. Those men who do seek therapy notice marked improvement in happiness and wellness as they begin addressing their issues and coming up with solutions.
3. Myth- Seeing a marriage counselor is admitting that your problems aren't solvable
Truth- Many couples seek marriage therapy prior to things getting to the point of divorce. It can be a healthy part of a marriage to do a monthly "tune up" to ensure issues are being resolved. Those husbands and wives who seek help earlier instead of waiting until things are to their worst point are more likely to have a positive result from therapy.
4. Myth- Therapy is just laying on a couch and telling all of your secrets.
Truth- While it can be important to share openly with your therapist, there is no reason to "spill the beans" and also no reason to be lying down while doing so. When working with your therapist it is important to be honest in what you are sharing and intentional with your time. Therapists work with clients to identify treatment goals, create plans of action, resolve previous trauma, provide perspective, initiate change and emphasize accountability.
5. Myth- Therapists can only understand what I am going through if they have gone through it themselves before.
Truth- Clinically trained therapists typically have been gone to school for a number of years and continued into post graduate training after completing school. They often have a specialization and focus that could take years to pursue and is rarely based on their own life experience.
We never expect the Dr. who operates on our lung cancer to first have lung cancer himself, and we probably wouldn't trust him if he did. Therapists, like doctors, are trained in their field and within their specialization to serve clients they are passionate about. Ensure that the therapist you end up with has training in the issues you are going through, and if they don't, ask for a referral elsewhere.
Comment below on any other myths or common stigmas you have heard regarding therapy.
Amber Reed, LSCSW
Resolve - Counseling and Wellness Center
8340 Mission Rd. #230
Prairie Village, KS 66206