Fortunately, a lot of people have been raising awareness about mental health recently, which leads to more and more people asking questions about mental health and even seeking therapy. We are on our way to ending the stigma of mental health. Nowadays, you can find more social media posts referencing mental health and this is a topic you can now find brought up in a discussion during a gathering of family or friends.
However, there are still some long-standing misconceptions that persist in our society. These misconceptions are dangerous as they might discourage someone from going to a therapist when they are in need of one. So, this article is written for any person who is hesitating to begin therapy or would like to know more information about it. We gathered the most common misconceptions and we are here to clear each one of them for you!
- Therapy is for people with major life issues (e.g. crisis, nervous breakdown, etc.) or crazy people.
This is one of the most unshakeable and long-standing misconceptions regarding psychotherapy. However, the truth is, you are not “crazy” because you’re going to a therapist. In fact, therapists never call any client/patient “crazy” for any reason. Also, you don’t have to be going through a major life crisis to be eligible for therapy. A lot of people decide to go to therapy due to feelings of anger, being unfulfilled, or to deal with life transitions or low self-esteem. These are people who face everyday issues rather than severe psychological disorders. Therapy and counseling help such individuals by providing a safe space, where they can explore their thoughts and feelings as well as develop new insights about themselves and their lives. Also, they learn tools to manage difficult times in their lives in a healthy way.
- If I start therapy, It will go on forever.
If you take the decision to start therapy, it does not necessarily mean that it will always be a part of your life. Therapists are trained to create a treatment plan that matches your specific needs. During your first session, the therapist will ask you some questions that help them understand the reason why you decided to seek therapy and then devise a plan on how best to reach those goals. As for how long therapy will take, this highly depends on your participation and work. Therapy needs collaboration and mutual participation in order to reach the desired outcome. Also, treatment length depends on other factors such as your needs and underlying conditions.
- The therapist might blame or shame me.
A therapist is trained to create a safe, accepting, non-judgemental space, where you can explore your thoughts and feelings and work through them. Therapists usually learn what is referred to as Carl Rogers’ “Core Conditions.” which include empathy, genuineness, and unconditional positive regard, which means accepting the person without any judgments. If you feel that your therapist is judging you, you can bring it up in the session and discuss it together. However, if you consistently feel that your therapist is judging you, you might want to consider going to another therapist.
- Psychotherapy is mostly just talk
Unlike what is commonly known about therapy, it is not a passive process. Nowadays, the therapy modalities that therapists follow are evidence-based (scientific) and are very much an active process. It requires collaboration, engagement, and participation from both parties. Usually, therapy involves identifying areas that need work, setting goals, creating a treatment plan, and monitoring progress. This process usually involves learning new skills and assigning weekly homework and reviewing it regularly. The techniques that are used by the therapist differ according to the therapy approach that the therapist adopts. However, a lot of therapists usually adopt an eclectic approach, which means that the therapist chooses a more flexible approach, where they use the most effective methods, drawn from multiple therapy modalities, to tackle the client’s particular needs. Examples of therapy modalities include Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), the Psychodynamic approach, and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT).
- Therapy is just paying someone to be your friend.
While the situation of one speaking and letting out their thoughts and emotions to someone who empathizes and validates their emotions might seem familiar to venting to a friend, therapy is different for several reasons. For one, in therapy, unlike in friendships, the focus is solely on you and everything you disclose is completely confidential. Additionally, a friend will not have years of psychological training and experience to guide the sessions. Also, therapists are trained to give you their undivided attention and unbiased evaluations. Additionally, they notice ineffective patterns in your life to help you make healthier changes using scientific techniques. Moreover, they are trained to deal with very serious issues such as addiction or severe depression, which your friend would not be able to respond to or help with.
- Robinson. (2020). 10 common myths about therapy. Psychology Today. Retrieved June 12, 2022, from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-right-mindset/202005/10-common-myths-about-therapy
- VanDerBill, B. (2021, October 11). 7 common myths about psychotherapy. Psych Central. Retrieved June 12, 2022, from https://psychcentral.com/health/myths-about-therapy#people-will-judge
- American Psychological Association. (2022). Understanding psychotherapy and how it works. American Psychological Association. Retrieved June 13, 2022, from https://www.apa.org/topics/psychotherapy/understanding
- What is psychotherapy? Psychiatry.org – What is Psychotherapy? (2019). Retrieved June 13, 2022, from https://www.psychiatry.org/patients-families/psychotherapy
- American Psychological Association. (2017). How long will it take for treatment to work? American Psychological Association. Retrieved June 13, 2022, from https://www.apa.org/ptsd-guideline/patients-and-families/length-treatment
- Sweet, Miranda & Whitlock, Janis. (2010). Therapy: Myths & Misconceptions.
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Hussein Haj Ahmad
Nour Abdel Baki
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