Therapy. Thats not for me, right?
Recently I’ve been hearing a lot of people telling me similar beliefs they hold about therapy and it made me realize just how many myths still exist! Without further ado, I would love to address some of the common comments I hear and perhaps pull back the veil on what the heck we do in therapy.
1. Therapy is only for people who have had it REALLY bad. I’ve heard multiple people recently comment that they or their relationship are not messed up enough for therapy. Believe it or not, there is no threshold for amount of life challenges required to go to therapy and you definitely don't need to be on the verge of breaking up. I see clients in a huge range from self/relationship-improvement/discovery to crisis management. If you are feeling like you would like support in any area of your life, therapy may be a good fit for you.
2. Therapists just tell you what to do. For better or for worse, your therapist should not be giving you advice, especially on big life decisions. Many therapists will help you explore different options and perhaps reflect what they are hearing from you but it is not a Dear Abby column where you come in, spill your guts, and answers are given. Every client is unique! Your therapist may give you suggestions on things to try but ultimately you get to decide what works and what doesn’t.
3. Therapy is for people who are weak or crazy. Many of us have been raised in a culture of independence and pulling yourself up from your bootstraps. This is great AND most of us will go through a challenging period of life when we could use a little extra support. Going to therapy does not mean ‘you can’t handle it’, simply that you know yourself and care about yourself to know when having another support person is a good idea.
4. All therapists are the same. When thinking about therapists, you may conjure the image of a woo-woo hippy woman nodding and asking how that made you feel or an older man who relates everything back to Freud. Even worse, you may have had a poor previous experience with a therapist and believe all are like that one. The reality is that there are tons of different styles of therapists and someone is probably a good match for you. Some are more encouraging while others call you on your bullshit. It can take some time (which can be daunting, I know) but there is no reason not to find someone who gets you and supports you in the way you are needing.
5. Therapy will last forever. I recently heard this and just about lost it. My goal is to work myself out of a job. Period. Therapy is about understanding yourself on a deeper level and being able to live the life you want. It’s true that sometimes therapy can take time, especially if you are working on multiple or more complicated issues; however, it is never your therapist’s goal to keep you in treatment as long as possible. At least not this therapist.