Don’t Fall For A Myth About Therapy
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Don’t Fall For A Myth About Therapy

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The past few years have seen increased public interest and openness to mental health discussions. Led strongly by the younger generations, talking about mental health topics like illnesses and therapy is becoming much more commonplace. This decreasing stigma is great, but there are still plenty of myths about therapy out there.

Myth #1. Therapy is only for weak people.

This myth about therapy could not be further from the truth. There is no such thing as a “weak” person. Thinking like this comes from the traditional type of stigma against mental illness and mental healthcare that we are trying to dismantle. In reality, therapy is for anyone who might benefit from it.

Seeking help in therapy shows strength, self-awareness, and a proactive approach to mental and emotional health. Going to therapy doesn’t automatically mean that a person has an ‘official’ mental illness, either. There are plenty of situations in which therapy can be helpful. Yes, many of those encompass mental health conditions like depression, anxiety, bipolar disorders, trauma disorders and eating disorders. But they also include things like stress management, grief processing, and relationship counseling.

Myth #2. A therapist is just like a friend.

Another old myth about therapy is that a counselor is just a like a friend, but you’re paying to talk to them. While friends that you can talk to are important to have, time spent with a therapist is fundamentally different. Counseling sessions are guided by therapists who have undergone extensive education, training, and licensing.

The “therapeutic alliance” is the term for the relationship that develops between a person and their therapist. The therapeutic alliance is a collaborative partnership between the therapist and the client who work together to address the client’s needs and priorities. It involves ongoing feedback and reflection from both the therapist and the client. Clients feel heard, understood, and supported by their therapist, while the therapist acknowledges their emotions and experiences, and demonstrates concern for their well-being.

This is a special relationship that is unlike the kind anyone would ever have with a friend. It’s built on deep trust, collaboration, empathy, and mutual respect. People feel safe opening up about their thoughts, feelings, and experiences in therapy when they trust their therapist.

Myth #3. Therapy is just talking.

One of the common ways people minimize the power of therapy is by saying that it is “just talking”. This greatly over simplifies what is actually happening in a therapist’s office. Yes, a therapist and their client talk, but talking happens in every healthcare interaction. A surgeon may operate on people, but you’d never have non-emergency surgery without talking to your surgeon first.

Instead of viewing therapy as “just talking”, understand that it is the vehicle for so much more. Therapists use numerous techniques, including cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), mindfulness approaches, eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR), psychodynamic therapy, and many more. Customized treatment plans following these different practices help clients build resilience, develop coping skills, and process difficult situations.

Myth #4. Therapy is a quick-fix.

Like the vast majority of medical treatments, therapy does not work immediately. That’s another common myth about therapy. Instead, therapy takes a bit of patience. Real change and progress require time and commitment to a process. Additionally, many people also underestimate the level of effort that a client must put into this process in order to get better. Someone can go to plenty of therapy sessions but not see much change if they don’t fully engage.

It is not enough to simply “show up” to therapy. It requires real, emotional work. Progress in therapy is gradual and progress may not always feel linear because of the emotions that get brought up in the process. A client will not always leave each session feeling happier than they did when they walked in. Instead, it can sometimes feel like a ‘2 steps forward, 1 step backward’ situation. However, by really dedicating oneself therapy in the long run, people will achieve lasting results.

Myth #5. Therapists will just blame your past for your problems.

Therapy is not about placing blame or rooting out a villain. That isn’t the point of therapy because it isn’t helpful in terms of healing emotional wounds. Of course, therapy will involve discussing painful things that happened in the past. However, just identifying issues like that isn’t the goal of this mental health journey. If all that was needed for healing was discovering sources of trauma, therapy would be a pretty quick endeavor. The point of therapy is to provide a safe, controlled space for people to process the tough times that they have gone through in the past or are going through in the present. It provides valuable support and tools for addressing challenges in a validating and respectful environment.

References

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