We live in a society where prejudgement and social preconceptions are everyday realities. When it comes to issues of sexual orientation, race, physical traits, and medical issues, these general attitudes end up forming our conversations and how we have them—for better or for worse. In the world of mental health, this kind of stigma plays an outsized role when compared to flesh-and-blood medicine. A big part of our mission at Never Give Up is to talk about these misconceptions and help break them down, both for the benefit of those afflicted as well as those around them and the general public.
One of the most important ways to do this is to talk about therapy, which is often misunderstood. What are some of the most common misconceptions about seeking mental health treatment and therapy?
Myth 1: All Therapy Is the Same
The world of Hollywood is one of the biggest culprits when it comes to the way we tend to think about therapy. For many people who have never gone through the process of visiting a therapist or seeking out mental health counseling, there is a standard view that we all have in our minds from the world of movies and television. The client comes in to speak with someone wearing a turtleneck and glasses, laying down on a large leather couch and explaining the source of their anxiety. The truth is that therapy includes a wide range of tactics and methods for addressing mental health challenges. In most cases, a good therapist will work with you to develop a treatment method that is specific to your needs. Certainly, there is a general toolbox of techniques that psychologists and psychiatrists all draw from, but there is no standard narrative for addressing mental health that is going to work for everyone.
Myth 2: All Therapists Are The Same
This misconception is very much tied in with the first. Because many people have the view that most therapy is the same, it makes sense that we also tend to lump all therapists into the same category. People working in the professions of psychiatry, clinical psychology and mental health counseling are just that—people. They vary in temperament and personality just like the rest of us and finding a therapist that you mesh with is very important. Not every therapist is a perfect fit for every client and vice versa.
Myth 3: Therapy Costs Too Much Money
Paying out-of-pocket for individual therapy on a weekly basis is rarely going to make financial sense if you look at it as a burden. If you look at it as an investment, on the other hand, it becomes an entirely different subject. Can you put a price tag on your health? Consider the long term costs of not taking care of yourself, both financially and physically/emotionally!!
Myth 4: Therapy Requires Too Much Time
To many people, setting aside the time to get to a therapy sounds like a daunting task, but remember, your therapy can be what works for you. Mental health professionals are happy to work around your schedule and find times for treatment that are manageable. This is why I offer virtual services! I know that making face-to-face appointments requires more time commitment than my e-services. And with e-services, you get to determine what works best for you!
Myth 5: Therapy is Frightening
When approaching therapy for the first time it is understandable to be nervous, but many people confuse that with justified fear. Mental health counseling is about developing tools and strategies to overcome trauma, anxiety, and depression. A good therapist will always make you feel welcome and comfortable.
Myth 6: Therapy Means Something Is Wrong With You
This is one of the most problematic stigmas that society still needs to work on. The friends and family of a patient suffering from a broken arm are not likely to have second thoughts about the seriousness of that condition, and the need for medical attention. People do not ask themselves, is kidney failure really just caused by the mind? Pursuing solutions to your mental health issues is precisely the same as going to the hospital for a cut or a bump on the head. Letting go of this collective guilt over seeking treatment is a roadblock we all need to work on together.
Myth 7: Therapy Is Boring
The idea of sitting down and talking about yourself and your problems leaves a bad taste in the mouths of many people. But again, your therapy can be what you want it to be. Often times, I practice exercises with my clients that spark revelations. Perhaps your anxiety or depression is tied to larger social problems in the outside world. Therapy can be a way to address larger issues outside of yourself, and about finding ways to effect change that result in personal growth and satisfaction. And that is anything but boring!
Myth 8: Therapy Means Pills
Of all the progress that has been made in mental health treatment over the years, there is no doubt that overmedication still remains a problem. A good therapist will not push you towards anti-anxiety medication and antidepressants on a whim. A full psychological evaluation and discussion of treatment options should be considered before psychiatric drugs come into the picture. For millions of people, therapy can offer treatment methods that do not include the use of these drugs.
Myth 9: Therapy Is Forever
“That’s it, once I go down this path I will be in therapy forever.” Not exactly. Therapy comes in all shapes, sizes, and durations. Many people are simply looking for solutions to short-term grief and trauma. There is no definite time frame for mental health consultation, and there is no need to worry about being stuck in a situation you do not want to be in.
Myth 10: Therapy Doesn’t Work
We have all experienced the cynical view of therapy, that it doesn’t work and that it’s all about “happy thoughts”. You will get out of therapy what you put into it. Finding a therapist, a method and a schedule that works for you will all improve your treatment, but in the end, clients who put in the effort will see improvement. Opening yourself up to the possibility of improving your mental health is the first step to seeing the benefits of treatment.