Common Myths About Psychotherapy
In today’s blog I am going to cover some perhaps commonly held myths about psychotherapy/ counseling, in hopes to clarify or demystify the process a bit.
MYTH: You must be “crazy”/ there has to be something “seriously wrong” with you to go to therapy.
TRUTH: Most clients are dealing with more everyday/ human condition things, such as grief, anxiety, trauma recovery, depressive symptoms, or relationship concerns. Going to therapy doesn’t mean there’s something “wrong” with you. Mental health is health/ mental health is part of your overall health. We generally are referred to a specialist if there is a physical concern beyond what your PCP can navigate, and so I view it as similar the decision to go to therapy is talking to a specialist when the self-help you have done has not alleviated the distress.
MYTH: The therapist gives you advice/ tells you what to do
TRUTH: You are your own expert. I do not assume that I know better than you do about what may or may not work for you to help you move in the direction you would like to go. I will begin to get to know you and therapy helps you be able to hear yourself without biased feedback. You are not going to get the “Sue way” of doing things, but rather we will find out together what may work best for you. This coupled with my background, training, and years of experience navigating the human condition with others.
MYTH: The therapist will force me to talk about things I don’t want to
TRUTH: We can go at a pace that works for you. It would be counterproductive to make you talk about anything you’re not feeling up to. That said, I tend to ask questions that help ‘push at’ those walls you may have built up. We all have defenses/ defense mechanisms, and those play an important part in keeping us safe and being able to put one foot in front of the other on a day to day basis. I think it’s super important that we help you maintain a sense of stability and grounding while we unpack the things bringing you in to therapy for.
MYTH: You lay down on a couch while the therapist takes notes and analyzes you
TRUTH: While this has sometimes been the media interpretation, has certainly been part of a joking version of how we view psychotherapy, what you can expect is a back and forth conversation in a comfortable living room-ish environment. You are welcome to put your feet up though! While some therapists take notes, I generally do not and definitely do not for the purpose of “analyzing” you. If I do take a note, it’s generally in the first session while I’m getting to know you and want to make sure I get important details down, such as key people in your life, etc.