Too often, myths and misconceptions about mental health services prevent people from seeking support. My goal is to provide a space where these myths and misconceptions may be examined. The blogs titled “Therapy Note” dispel or provide clarification to some of the more common myths for the population/topic listed in the title of the note.
Myth 1: There is a right way to do therapy.
Reality: Therapy is a place to explore and find different ways to grow, heal and cope. There is no one way to participate in therapy. The therapist is not looking for “right” answers but is there to help facilitate growth, healing and a better understanding of self.
Myth 2: Things have to be really bad before I go to therapy.
Reality: A person can attend therapy whenever they want to work on themselves. As soon as you do not feel “like yourself” or if you have things that you would like to process are enough reasons to check in with a mental health professional. Just like going in for an annual physical check-up, it is a good idea to check-up in terms of mental health as well.
Myth 3: The only work involved is attending sessions.
Reality: Working on oneself may be facilitated inside of sessions but is an ongoing process that occurs outside of sessions as well. In fact, sometimes a therapist may assign “homework” to assist in working towards therapy goals. In the absence of this, journaling, meditating, and other mental hygiene practices are part of working on oneself outside of sessions.
Myth 4: The therapist is there to give me advice and tell me what to do.
Reality: A therapist may have a direct style and as mentioned above assign homework or make recommendations, but advice is something that is not typically provided under our ethical code. It is not in a person’s best interest to tell them “what to do” as: (1) We only have snapshots of a person’s life and without a full picture any type of advice has the potential to go awry (2) Therapy is designed to provide people with the tools that are needed to cope with the ups and downs of life. Developing and enhancing coping skills and a method for making better decisions for one’s own well-being can be empowering. (3) Some people view therapists in positions of authority and any advice may be taken as what has to be done. This leaves room for this relationship to become inappropriate or harmful.
Myth 5: If I am taking medication, I do not need to go to therapy.
Reality: Medication works on the physiological (body) component of mental health. It does not tackle the underlying material that may benefit from being processed through talk therapy. It is ultimately a person’s individual decision but typically the combination of medication (where needed) and talk therapy are more effective than either one on its own.