By Danielle Adinolfi
There are a lot of myths about therapy that stop people from going in for a session.
Here are 10 of the most common therapy myths -- and the truth! -- straight from the mouth of a therapist:
1. Only Crazy People Go To Therapy
Most clients are ordinary, everyday people with typical problems. Things like the loss of a loved one, a break-up, or a relationship rut are common issues addressed in therapy.
Most people will go through difficult times, and therapy will help the people involved gain better insight on their issue.
2. Only Couples On The Verge Of Breakup Go To Therapy
Some couples find it helpful to have regular relationship check-ups to ensure things are working properly in their relationship. In fact, the happiest couples go in and out of therapy sessions all the time.
A lot of the work we love to do in therapy is preventative measures to help individuals work together efficiently and successfully for the long-term.
These types of session strengthen couples that are currently in a good place and hope to remain there by addressing small issues that have the potential to grow if left untreated.
3. Once You Start Therapy, You Are In For Life
Some people come for three sessions, others come for three years, but one thing is for sure: The client determines the length of therapy, NOT the therapist. (Some people choose to stay in therapy long-term that is because it makes them feel good when they make positive changes in their lives.)
Remember, therapy is a choice that can put you and your partner on the path to a greater understanding of yourselves as individuals and as a couple.
4. Couples Therapy Will Only Make Our Relationship Worse
When a couple seeks treatment, a therapist sees two possible end results for them -- staying together or amicably separating. But the clients are the ones who make that decision.
If both partners want to better their relationship, then the end goal is obvious and the work done in therapy will help alleviate some of the current issues they face.
This is where they can bring up things in a safe space and at a time when both people are ready to address whatever issues (known or unknown) are plaguing them.
5. In Couples Therapy, Therapists Side With The Partner Who Acts Like The Victim
This is a common misconception that is absolutely UNTRUE. Every therapist understands that nothing happens in a vacuum -- each partner plays an equal role in every issue.
So when one person is blaming the other, we do our best to help both partners see how they are contributing to the problem and recognize that one person is never completely at fault.
6. "I Should Manage My Own Issues"
Think about when you are feeling ill. You start to sense the sickness coming on, and you make a choice to either see a doctor or wait out the illness and see if it goes away naturally. Sometimes that works and sometimes the sickness becomes debilitating and -- in extreme cases -- degenerative.
Mental health follows the same pattern. Unfortunately, if you wait to seek therapy for a problem, there is not much we can do to salvage it (especially with couples who wait too long to get help).
Therefore, consider going to couples therapy BEFORE the problem is unmanageable. And remember, early recognition of a problem leads to a shorter mean time to resolution (and that equates to less time actually spent in therapy). It is much easier to treat a problem at the beginning stages.
7. "Why Go To Therapy When I Can Just Take Medication?"
Antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications are very helpful managing emotions. At their conception, drug and talk therapies worked side-by-side. The idea behind this was that the drugs would alleviate the immediate issue, while therapy would help in the long-term.
This would allow individuals to eventually stop needing to depend on their medications for emotional well-being. Unfortunately, we have lost sight of how these therapies help one another, and instead rely on the quick-fix medications without ever addressing our concerns.
This has led to over-medicated and unresolved individuals. Therefore, it's beneficial to use talk therapy and medications in tandem, or as a holistic replacement for drug-therapy.
8. Therapy Will Make You Feel Shamed And Blamed
The media portrays therapists as intense and controlling, blaming their clients for their troubles. But this is simply not true of real-life therapy. Therapists are compassionate and understanding and will empower you to make your own decisions at your own pace.
9. Therapy Is Like Having A Paid Best Friend -- So Why Pay?
Friends are passionate, sympathetic and care deeply about their friends. But the fact that they're too close to the issue can cloud their judgment. Friends often have motives and opinions that can influence regretful decisions.
Therapists, on the other hand, have years of training, expertise and experience. They care for their clients, but can offer so much more than a friend can -- without the bias. Also, it is much easier to tell someone your deepest, darkest secrets when you have a signed confidentiality agreement.
10. Digging Up The Past Won't Be Helpful
Addressing complicated things you have lived through can, of course, be difficult. But doing so can allow you to see events differently and with a better understanding. This will ultimately give you insight into why you make decisions now based on past events.
Danielle Adinolfi, MFT is a practicing therapist in Philadelphia. She received her Master's Degree in Couple and Family Therapy from Thomas Jefferson University with a concentration in Sex Therapy. Her areas of expertise include sexual trauma, anxiety, pre-marital counseling and systemic issues.
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