Misconceptions of Therapy
It is sad, yet almost comical how many misconceptions there are about what therapy is, how it works, and who should go. Many believe they know what therapy entails without ever stepping foot into a therapist's office. There's the idea that therapy is for crazy people or those who are not able to process or handle their problems. These thoughts and many others are simply not true. Many misconceptions surround the field of therapy, so let's tackle some of them.
Couples therapy is a last-ditch effort before divorce
Couples therapy has gotten a bad rap. I see mostly couples, and often times a couple waits to seek help until it's *almost* too late (and sometimes, sadly, it is). Their relationship has deteriorated to the point that it takes a lot more work to resolve the issues and associated negative feelings, and to change the unhealthy and counter-productive behaviors. If a couple seeks help early on when they start noticing problematic interactions between them or sense negative feelings developing, the therapy is often much shorter, less painful and has lasting results. Like a car, a marriage that receives periodic minor maintenance will be much less likely to need a major overhaul in the future. Similarly, the cost of minor maintenance is much lower than the major overhaul as well.
Therapy is like having a paid friend
A common misconception of therapy is that it is like having a paid friend. There are many differences between a therapist and a best friend. Many believe that a client is paying a therapist to listen to them, be kind to them, care for them, and support them. "Why would you need that when you can talk to your best friend?" Therapists are professionally trained to offer new resources to their clients. Resources that are proven and tested to impact people positively. Therapists are also trained to avoid unique relationships with clients and seeing them outside of their office, unlike your best friend.
Only crazy people go to therapy
There is another common misconception that only crazy people go to therapy. The word "crazy" is a whole other topic of misconceptions that we will save for another blog. The point is people of all backgrounds and walks of life benefit from therapy. Many people do not always understand mental illness and other tough seasons in life. You see a medical doctor when you have the sniffles, and a therapist is simply a doctor for your mental health. Everyone gets the sniffles sometimes; just the same, everyone has times that are mentally tougher than others. Therapists are trained to deal with a variety of mental health concerns on all levels of severity.
Therapy is never-ending
Some believe that therapy is a continuous process. Indeed, therapy is not something that holds a precise end date. Therapy is a process. It takes time to make a breakthrough, and everyone goes through this process at a different pace. But starting therapy doesn't mean that you will always need therapy. Most therapists start their relationship with a new client by assessing and developing a plan of action for the course of the therapy. Therapists are trained to create a targeted program of treatment for their clients right off the bat. Most people that attend regular therapy sessions remain in therapy for three to four months on average.
Therapy is all happy thoughts
There is a common belief that therapists only promote happy thoughts and force positive thinking. A therapist may work with you to eliminate negative thoughts as part of your treatment plan, but that isn't all they do. Therapists are honest with you about behaviors and work through tough, often uncomfortable conversations to help their clients overcome pain. They will assess the negative thoughts that a client may have and work with them to develop a successful path to get them to where they want to be. Discussing a client's past is a technique that therapists use to learn more about their clients and gain more insight into the root issues that the client is there to work through.
Therapy makes it worse
Of course, when you begin tackling and remembering things from the past that still cause pain and damage today, there will be a little bit of back-peddling. Most of those who attend therapy have not dealt with the issues of the past and must dive into the trauma so they can overcome current obstacles they face. Going back to where you began is an essential step in the process of healing. It also gives the therapist the insight they need to help. Therapists are trained on how to allow a client to work through their past bad experiences in a safe space.
If you have more questions about what therapy actually looks like, please feel free to give me a call. I would be happy to answer any questions you have.
My name is Melissa and I'm passionate about helping couples who are at the "end of their rope". I choose to use my incessant optimism, rampant curiosity, and inherent pragmatism for good, not evil- saving relationships, one session at a time!