Misconceptions have plagued the mental health field for decades. In the information era, though, it’s easier than ever to fact check many of the most common myths about treatment for depression, anxiety and beyond. Even with search engines at our fingertips, misconceptions still persist. If you’re considering therapy but have reservations, it’s worth exploring the truth behind many of the most common myths about the process. Here are five:
“My Problems Aren’t Serious Enough for Therapy”
The idea that someone’s problems aren’t bad enough for psychotherapy is one of the most common mental health myths. Many people believe that the challenges they are facing are routine, normal and should be handled without outside help. After all, we’re inundated by tragic stories in the news constantly. Everyday problems like social anxiety or insomnia pale in comparison. The reality? There is always someone with problems worse than you – and that doesn’t mean you should suffer for it.
Virtually everyone can benefit from therapy. Regardless of how serious you believe your problems to be, a professional can help you sort through many of the curveballs life sends your way. There is no trauma threshold that must be met to qualify for psychotherapy. Instead, you need an open mind and a willingness to honestly confront truths about your life. No matter how big or small your problems may seem, talking truthfully about them with a therapist can help you sort through the complex emotions you experience.
“A Therapist Will Force Me to Discuss Things I Don’t Want to Talk About”
Many people have serious anxiety about opening up to a stranger. It’s a reasonable concern. After all, you wouldn’t spill your life story to a first date, so why would you feel comfortable sharing intimate thoughts with a therapist you just met? This problem is even more concerning when someone has trauma in their past that they’re not yet ready to touch. Too often, people avoid psychotherapy as a way to avoid confronting painful memories.
The good news? An experienced therapist may push you towards uncomfortable topics, but will never force you to talk about things you’re not ready to discuss. This is especially true when you’re just starting out. Therapy is about trust, and it takes many sessions to build the kind of foundation necessary to confront deep issues. Ultimately, you’re in the driver’s seat of your treatment. By staying open to the process and trusting the boundaries you establish with your therapist, you can rest easy.
“I Can Fix My Problems On My Own”
The self-help industry makes millions of dollars each year. Books, apps, podcasts, documentaries and other tools can indeed help people confront their issues. There are limits, however, on just how deep these self-help tools can go. Without the guidance of a professional therapist who is familiar with your goals, you may find yourself stuck in old patterns.
While it’s true you likely can fix many of your problems on your own, a therapist can help you through them. The ultimate form of self-help, therapy starts when a person recognizes that they can’t do it all themselves. Consider therapy another weapon in your arsenal of self-help tools. It doesn’t need to replace the books and apps you’ve found helpful, either. on the contrary, your reading can supplement and even reinforce the work done in session.
“Therapy is Too Expensive”
Mental healthcare has a reputation for being expensive. While healthcare of any kind can indeed be expensive in the United States, therapy is usually more cost-effective than you might expect. It’s worth a call to your insurance company to see how much your co-pay will be for the average psychotherapy session. Not insured? Investigate options for low-cost or sliding scale payments based on how much you earn. If you want to pursue therapy, chances are good that there is an affordable option available.
It’s also helpful to reframe psychotherapy as a medical cost rather than a personal splurge. Many of us wouldn’t think twice about shelling out for medication or surgery. Rather than lumping therapy costs in with your coffee or wardrobe budget for the month, see it as what it actually is: an investment in your mental health.
“I Don’t Need Therapy – My Friends are My Therapists”
Good friends can serve as mirrors, reflecting back both the best and worst parts of ourselves. As people we trust, they’re natural sounding boards for our anxieties. While it’s true that a conversation with a friend can be very therapeutic, those kinds of chats can take a toll on a relationship. Rather than burden friends who are not trained to handle the complexities of your past, why not work with an expert instead?
Therapists can provide many of the same benefits a great chat with a friend does, but their experience and education can deepen the conversation. Rather than touching the surface of the challenges in your life, therapists will dig further into your history and help you make connections between your current choices and ones that would better serve you in the future.
Myths about psychotherapy will persist, but as our society becomes more aware of our biases, we open up to the possibilities that mental healthcare provides. If you’ve been avoiding therapy for any of the aforementioned reasons, consider this your sign to make an appointment today!