8 Myths of Psychotherapy
Many of my clients mention that it took them a long time to decide to come in for therapy because of the “rumor's” they had heard. I realise that many people have several misconceptions about counselling which I would like to address.
So, here are some myths which are worth debunking.
Myth #1: Counselling is only for major issues or “crazy” people
Yes, counselling can help you through major life issues and traumas but those aren’t the only situations where counselling can work for you. Sometimes we just need someone unbiased to talk to about a situation or feelings we’re having – and that’s okay. It’s normal to seek help for problems large and small or simply when you’re not feeling quite yourself and you don’t know why.
Myth #2: Seeking counselling is a sign of weakness.
The concepts of weakness and vulnerability tend to get confused with each other. There is vulnerability in sharing what you’re going through and what you’re feeling, but that is not a sign of weakness. It is courageous to open up to someone. It’s an act of strength to take steps to better yourself when you’re not feeling your best. Vulnerability is not a weakness but rather a quality to take pride in, not be shameful of.
Myth #3: If I go for counselling, everyone will hear about it.
Confidentiality is one of the most important requirements of counselling. Therapists go to great lengths to ensure that the identification information about their clients always remains private. Exceptions are made only when there is a potentially serious risk of harm to the individual, others or when required by law. So you can be sure that your friends or family would never get to know about your counselling journey, unless of course you want to tell them about it.
Myth #4: I would not go for therapy, because they will put me on medication.
Psychotherapy or counselling are talk therapies wherein the client and clinician collaboratively work on the dysfunctional thoughts and beliefs that might be blocking an individual’s journey. Therapists do not prescribe medication to clients. If a client does need support of medicines then the therapists would refer them to see a psychiatrist for further evaluation.
Myth #5: Counselling is just talking! I can talk to my friends or family, so why should I pay to just talk.
Talking to a friend may be free, nonetheless, only a therapist has the skills and training to help improve your mental health without risking any damage to your personal relationships. Therapists spend years training so they can help you in ways friends or family can’t. Conversation is only the surface layer of therapy, underneath which are a lot of cognitive and behavioural strategies that a therapist uses.
Myth #6: The counsellor doesn’t know me, so they cannot understand my background or experiences.
While counsellors may not have similar experiences as you, they are trained to be respectful of individual diversities and understand human psychological needs. Regardless of your background or unique concerns, they are there to accompany you to achieve enhanced wellbeing.
Myth #7: Therapy takes a long time.
The length of time, or number of sessions needed with a counsellor will greatly vary depending on many factors, such as: How long you’ve been dealing with the issue; The severity of the problem; The time you need to make any necessary changes. Research shows that most clients see positive change within an average of 8-10 sessions.
Myth #8: Therapists blame their clients’ parents for everything
Every individual struggle and situation is unique. In some situations it can be helpful to analyze your past and see how your environment and the people around you shaped you responses to things today. While some other situations are best solved by looking at current behaviours. Regardless if you and your therapist analyze your past or your present, the most important thing to keep in mind is that therapy is not about assigning blame, but learning how to have a healthy mental outlook and have healthy relationships with yourself and others.