Common Myths About Therapy

Angela L. Mull |

Myth: Only crazy people go to psychotherapy.

Reality: Untrue. People seek psychotherapy for a range of reasons in everyday life. Some pursue psychotherapy for treatment of depression, anxiety or substance abuse. But others want help coping with major life transitions or changing problem behaviors: the loss of job, a divorce or the death of a loved one. Yet others need help managing and balancing the demands of parenting, work and family responsibilities, coping with medical illness, improving relationship skills or managing other stressors that can affect just about all of us. Anyone can benefit from psychotherapy to become a better problem solver.

Myth: Talking to family members. Pastor’s or friends is just as effective as going to a therapist.

Reality: Support from family and friends you can trust is important when you're having a hard time. But a therapist can offer much more than talking to family and friends. Therapists have years of specialized education, training and experience that make them experts in understanding and treating complex problems. The techniques a therapist uses during psychotherapy are developed over decades of research and more than “just talking and listening.”

Myth: Psychotherapist just listen to you vent, so why pay someone to listen to you complain?

Reality: A therapist will often begin the process of psychotherapy by asking you to describe the problem that has brought you into his or her office. But that's just psychotherapy's starting point. They will also gather relevant information on your background, as well as the history of your problems and other major areas of your life, and the ways you have tried to address the concerns. Psychotherapy is typically an interactive, collaborative process based on dialogue and the patient's active engagement in joint problem-solving.

Myth: You can get better on your own if you just try hard enough and keep a positive attitude.

Reality: Many people have tried to solve their problems on their own for weeks, months or even years before starting psychotherapy but have found that that it’s not enough. Deciding to start psychotherapy doesn't mean you’ve failed, just like it doesn't mean you’ve failed if you can't repair your own car. There may be a biological component to some disorders, such as depression or panic attacks, which make it incredibly difficult to heal yourself. Having the courage to reach out and admit you need help is a sign of strength rather than weakness — and the first step toward feeling better.

Stigma connected to getting help for psychological or behavioral concerns used to be a strong deterrent for people. But getting help is now seen as a sign of resourcefulness.

Wishing you the best on your mental wellness journey. 

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