There are many ideas and portrayals of what therapy is like that don’t really align with reality. It’s definitely not about paying a bunch of money to lay on a couch talking about things people “can’t handle.”
The truth is that therapy can look as different as there are people in therapy. Why? Because even if the same therapist sees 10 different people, there are 10 different relationships that take place, so the dynamics are different. Anyone can benefit from therapy, it takes an openness and a willingness to do the work, a therapist who can meet your needs and is willing to put in the work.
Now that we have that out of the way, let's talk about some common myths about therapy:
Therapy is for Crazy People
Well, no. I think what this refers to people who have a severe mental health diagnosis or condition. Therapy can be helpful to anyone who is has mental health symptoms of any severity or even unease in their life. Therapy can be especially helpful to the latter group. If therapy and treatments are utilized early on this can help to prevent things from getting worse aka from getting severe. Most people who go to therapy recognize that it’s helpful to have a person or system to support them to gain insight and better handle difficult experiences if and when they do arise.
Therapy is Expensive
Well, that depends on how you define expensive and folks not always knowing that there are supports to subsidize the cost. Seeing a therapist and paying out of pocket can cost a lot, but it’s important to look at the cost of not going to therapy. Seeing this as an investment in your well-being and reducing the risk of having problems with our partner, at work, with our friend or the internal emotional impact. Is that worth the financial cost? Secondly, there are many resources that help to subsidize the cost including Employee Assistance Programs (EAP) provided by our employers, Health Insurance, wellness grants and sliding scale or reduced fees offered by therapists for those that qualify. These options provide an opportunity to pay a rate that is within your means or free of cost.
I Should be Able to Handle It
It makes me really sad to hear people say this. It says that they or others have unfair expectations for them and likely when “it” is beyond their control or something they never learned to address is a helpful way. Having depression or anxiety is not something we have control over or choose. It’s not your fault. Challenges to our mental health are a result of our biology, genetic predispositions or life experiences and our environment. Even our daily demands cause stress or unease. Therapy is a space to gain perspective and learn helpful strategies that no one else taught you to help improve your mental health and well-being.
All Therapists Are the Same
Nope. Definitely not the same. We’re all humans with varying life experiences, resources and therapeutic approaches. Which means every therapist is not the right fit for every person. Sometimes it takes people some time to find their right match and that’s okay. What is important is that you find someone that you click with and has the knowledge and skillset to help you. Some people will go to different therapists throughout the course of their life because their need is different, and the expertise needed will also be different. So if you do decide to go to therapy, reach out to a few different therapists and see who you feel you click with and can help you with your need.
I Don’t Have Time for Therapy
Truth time: I’ve said this too. We’re part of a society that is go, go, go and trying to squeeze in just one more commitment seems impossible. This is sometimes when we need help the most. Therapy is a commitment. It can be an hour a week or every couple of weeks. So it takes time, the other ingredient needed is effort. Right now we’re in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, which means there are all kinds of feelings coming up in a whole new way, which means therapy is still needed. Which means that when we’re safer at home, therapy is happening while we’re at home by means of teletherapy: video and telephone sessions. This means that therapy can be done at any time of day, any day of the week from the comfort of your own home. No commute is necessary. Even when this is all over, teletherapy will still be an option. Therapists offer evening, early morning and weekend sessions. You need flexibility and so do we, and more often than not, it works out.