By Anuja Patel, Psy.D.

Whether you’re a seasoned client or new to therapy, it’s likely you’ve come across some myths and misconceptions about therapy. These myths may have even stopped you from scheduling an appointment. There are many benefits of counseling, and below are 6 common misconceptions about therapy to help clear up what the therapy process actually looks like.

1. “I don’t need therapy. I have friends and family.”

Even though we can all agree it’s important to have a support system, like friends and family, you might find that you can’t always talk to them about everything. For example, you might have to be careful about how you express your anger towards your best friend because you don’t want to hurt her feelings. Most relationships you already have in your life are reciprocal relationships, meaning both people are going to talk about their own issues. It’s also possible your friends and family are going to be full of opinions that may not be all that helpful when you’re needing support. When you meet a therapist, you don’t have to edit your true feelings, and fortunately, the session will not (and should not!) turn into your therapist’s issues.

2. “I don’t need therapy because I don’t have serious problems.”

For starters, “serious” is SO subjective! There are multiple reasons to seek therapy, whether it’s therapy for depression, anxiety, trauma, stressful home and work life, or understanding more about your relationship patterns. Therapists don’t really judge your problems based on “seriousness,” as long as you’re interested in learning more about yourself and/or improving aspects of your life. Typically, the longer people wait to start therapy, the worse the problem might get, and the longer it might take to resolve the problem. Nobody wants that! A better question to ask yourself is, “are you happy/satisfied with your current state? Is there anything you want to change?” If the answer is yes, then there you go! That’s a good reason to look into therapy.

3. “I just want someone to tell me what to do.”

This one is my personal favorite and probably one of the most common misconceptions about therapy. I can understand that when people feel hopeless about their current state (and/or have waited a long time to seek therapy because of misconception #2, they want answers and a fix right away. There’s something comforting about thinking someone else has the answer for you. The truth is, therapy isn’t about having someone make decisions about your life. In fact, it’s believed that clients have the answers already, and therapists can help guide and empower clients to find those answers themselves.

4. “Therapy is for crazy and/or weak people.”

This misconception is very popular and has been around for decades. It’s interesting how easily people seek medical help for health-related problems, but consider seeking help for emotional problems to be a sign of weakness. Let’s be honest, how much easier is it to just grab the closest pint of ice cream, indulge in a Netflix marathon, and pretend like our problems don’t even exist? It actually takes a heck of a lot of strength to face the problem and ask for help.

5. “Couples therapy is only for those heading for a divorce.”

Ironically, couples will come to therapy after waiting too long and when the damage has already been done. Just like individual therapy, it’s always better to resolve issues before they get to a stage where it feels like you can’t come back from it. Aside from helping with major conflicts in the relationship, couples therapy can be useful for minor communication problems or reigniting some passion and fire in the relationship.

6. “Is therapy really confidential?”

As therapists, we understand how hard it is to be vulnerable, and in therapy, you really have to be open about personal things to get the most out of it. Our ethics and law mandate us to keep things confidential. Confidentiality is the first aspect of therapy we discuss when starting because how can we expect you to be vulnerable with us if you don’t trust us? Sure, there are circumstances we can’t keep private, but your therapist should go over that with you from the beginning, so you know what to expect.

I hope the 6 common misconceptions about therapy shared above have helped you to better understand the importance of therapy. I won’t sugar coat things… therapy can be a challenging process. But, don’t rewarding things often come with at least some challenges? If you’re thinking about seeing a therapist, I recommend just sending a quick email or picking up the phone to briefly talk to a therapist and see how you feel. You may be surprised with how comfortable it feels right from the get-go. One of our San Jose psychologists at Relucent Psychology Group might be a good fit for you, so give us a call!

For more info about our therapy & counseling services, you can contact us by form or give us a call at 408-680-4114.

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