5 Therapy Myths Debunked!

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Remember this skit from Saturday Night Live in the 90’s?  Well that is exactly what therapy IS NOT these days! It still makes me laugh though when I see it; I mean, who couldn’t use some positive affirmations every once in a while? In all seriousness, though, I take great joy in my work as a therapist and if I have said it once I have said it a thousand times: it is SUCH a privilege to come alongside of women as they walk through hard circumstances. In order to do that, though, they have to get through the door of my office. Sometimes fear or preconceived notions of what therapy will entail prevent them from coming in.

As the years go by going to therapy has less and less of a stigma attached to it, but there are still a lot of myths out there that I would like to take the time to de-mystify. Read on and see if I can challenge any thoughts you might have had about what time with a counselor might look like…

  1. “If you are seeing a therapist you must be crazy.”  Nope, not at all! The majority of my clients are normal, everyday functioning people (a lot of them moms) just like you and me. People come to therapy for a whole host of reasons but more often than not they just need a neutral outside source to help them through issues they couldn’t otherwise work through on their own.
  2. “If you are in therapy it means you are weak.” Actually just the opposite. If you have made the decision to seek out counseling on a particular issue it means that you are in fact very, very strong. It means that you are wise enough to know that you can’t handle all that life throws at you all by yourself and seeking help is the bravest thing you can do.
  3. “If I go to therapy all you will do is focus on the ____________ (traumatic event) that happened to me when I was a child.” Probably not. It all depends on what you are coming to therapy for. If you don’t want to go there then we don’t have to; we can concentrate on the here and now. We can talk about techniques to help you through whatever has brought you into our office. As you begin to share your story, though, you might realize that what you experienced as a child does have some impact on your adult life and if and when you are ready we can go there, but you get to decide that.
  4. “If I go to therapy, you’ll make me lie on a couch and all you will do is say, “Uh-huh” to everything I tell you and then make me pay hundreds of dollars for talking. Sorry, no dice on this one either. My office doesn’t even have a couch in it. (I have a love seat.) I have yet to have a client lie down on it, but if they wanted to they most certainly could. Therapy is more like a conversation between friends than anything else. I might ask you questions to help get you started but as you feel comfortable you will begin to share with me things that are going on in your life. You get to decide what you want to talk about. I might help you think through that through reflective questions or speculative scenarios but I won’t just sit and stare at you for an hour. That would be really boring for me too! (And while therapy is an expense, most offices will work with you on cost and a lot take insurance.)
  5. “If I go to therapy it will unpack a bunch of hard stuff that I didn’t even know existed and that seems more overwhelming to me than working through this one little issue.” Well, I have to be honest on this one…it might happen, BUT that shouldn’t prevent you from coming at all. More than likely your presenting issue is the tip of the iceberg when it comes to things we could work through and we will slowly and at your pace, chip away at that iceberg. Sometimes it does get worse before it gets better, but that is really normal and totally expected. Take for instance a remodeling project: if you knew your roof was leaking but only wanted to patch the hole on the inside of your house, it might work for a while but as soon as the next rain storm comes that patch won’t hold. It might be a little harder to fix the roof in its entirety but for the integrity of the house and long term sustainability it is probably the best idea.

So, my friends, have I convinced you that therapy is really awesome?! Did I change any of your pre-conceptions of what it looked like? Do you have any more myths that I can de-mystify?

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Tracy Carson is a Licensed Associate Professional Counselor, a wife to her Prince Charming whom she has been married to for 10 years and a Mom of two precious boys, 5 and 3. Tracy has a passion for helping women feel beautiful inside and out and works hard in her faith based counseling practice, Professional Counseling Associates, (www.pcaaz.com) specializing in the treatment of women’s issues: especially anxiety, development, and eating disorders and counts it a privilege to come alongside of women as they overcome the stress that can come with new life transitions. When Tracy is not in her professional role, you can probably find her out running or trying to figure out how to incorporate the newest fashion trends into her wardrobe. Follow her on twitter @tkcarson

2 COMMENTS

  1. How about “If I start therapy, my therapist will keep finding new reasons to keep me in sessions and I’ll never be able to ‘quit'” 🙂 – seriously, though, can you comment on how long people are often in therapy? Some for years, others for just a few sesions, etc.?

    • Ooh that is another great one. I hate to give you this answer but it does really depend on what you are coming in for. I have some clients that I only see for 6-8 sessions. There is an acute issue they want to work through and that is it. Others can be in therapy for a year or more but that is because 1. they can afford it, and 2. they like to have a place to work through on-going issues, and more than likely, 3. It is a bigger issue. I would say a good average is maybe 12 sessions but again, it just all depends on why you came in. I always tell my clients that it is my goal to work myself out of a job. I absolutely want to get them to a place where they have the tools to work through things on their own. Sometimes they will come and check back in every couple of months but it isn’t consistent any more. The flip side of all of this is that a good therapist should know when it isn’t working and there isn’t any progress being made. Ethically they should refer out…if you aren’t getting the results you want then you should find a new therapist.

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