5 Myths About Therapy
Therapy Myth Busting
Therapy gets a bad rap! What a shame that something that has helped me to live a more meaningful, productive and joyous life carries so much misinformation! I’d like to set the record straight with you:
- Myth # 1: Therapy is for people who are mentally ill and/or weak. Some people who enter therapy suffer from serious mental disorders that require lengthy treatment. However, the MAJORITY of people who can benefit from therapy are high functioning individuals who are looking to resolve issues related to painful life events and/or relationships that have lost their vitality, fun and excitement. Therapists are actually “mental health” specialists. We are trained to help people to live healthier and more fulfilling lives—most people can improve in these areas no matter how healthy and happy their lives are.
- Myth # 2: Therapists “shrink” people: They will “read into” words I say and statements I make and will decide what is “wrong” with me, even if I don’t think I have a problem. Therapy is a collaborative process intended to meet and serve the needs and desires of the client. Good therapists do not impose their values about how clients “should” be or define problems for clients and then “fix” them. In collaborative therapy, the client informs the therapist about what he or she would like to shift, change or resolve and the therapist works with the client and for the client to help the client come up with new ways of looking at and seeing problems and to find resolutions that fit with the client’s personality, lifestyle and desires. When I work with clients I ask them to tell me what is and what is not working in their lives. Together, we look for solutions. In many cases clients shift perceived “weaknesses” into strengths and self-criticism and doubt into pride and accomplishment.
- Myth # 3: Therapy focuses on the past and unnecessarily churns up old problems and experiences that are best left alone. Socrates said: “the unexamined life is not worth living.” Although past events cannot be changed, they can be useful in understanding how we arrived at our current dilemma and can provide the key to resolving present problems. Our childhood and life experiences impact who we are today. Looking at the past can be painful, and yet, it is also a powerful way to understand who we are today and how we may be missing valuable insights that will help us with our current difficulties. By exploring past events, we can discover faulty assumptions and ideas that we may carry that block us from seeing options and choices that might be available to us. We may discover resolutions to current life situations, stresses and crises when we open ourselves to new ideas and possibilities.
- Myth # 4: Therapy is too expensive—I can’t afford it! The truth is, not going to therapy can be much more expensive than going to therapy. Resolving ongoing crises can free people both emotionally and financially. For example, divorce is much more expensive than marital therapy. Similarly, people who experience procrastination, blocks to creativity and fear can improve their financial and emotional health by addressing these issues in therapy and finding resolution by freeing barriers and blocks to energy, creativity and success. Many people seek to treat emotional pain with costly material things. While these “things” may provide temporary relief and happiness in the moment, they do not provide long-term solutions. I see therapy as an investment in emotional well-being that can lead to surprising solutions not otherwise available. Many people are more willing to extend themselves financially on homes, cars, clothing and dining out than on the inner wellbeing, empowerment and freedom that is possible when critical issues are clarified, resolved or seen in a new light through the therapeutic experience.
- Myth # 5: Therapy is for people who don’t have the strength to solve their own problems. To the contrary! I always tell my clients: “Therapy is not for wimps!” It takes strength, grit and willpower to challenge long-held beliefs and ways of living that no longer serve you. Therapy often requires people to face and acknowledge that how they have been living has been maintaining or creating problems that have led to distress, dissatisfaction and even depression. This is never an easy thing to discover. Sometimes people’s problems can be the result of painful experiences or beliefs that are repressed. Depression often results when people must “press down” certain truths that might seem too painful or angering to handle. In short, therapy is not an easy process and it takes strength and sheer will at times to continue in the face of difficult realizations. Once brought to light, however, therapy can help clients to re-structure their thinking and behavior toward a more joyous, more meaningful and more productive life graced with more loving and fulfilling relationships.
Therapy is not for wimps!!!