If you have never participated in therapy, it can be intimidating to reach out and face the unknown. Often people have misconceptions about what therapy entails, leading to unrealistic expectations and unnecessary worry or fear. The following are some of those misconceptions:
Myth: Therapy is About Receiving Advice
Reality: Therapy is a fluid process where clients are able to get in touch with their own decision-making power and feel clearer about how to live their lives authentically. Friends are good at giving advice, which is sometimes welcomed, and other times, not. However, a therapist’s role is to open up perspectives and possibilities so that clients are more aware of the choices available to them as well as the potential pros and cons of following different paths.
Myth: Therapy Lasts a Lifetime
Reality: Ideally, therapy is used as a resource during certain times of adversity in a person’s (or couple’s) life. Instead of developing a dependency on the therapist, a collaborative relationship is formed to create goals and a timeframe for achieving those goals. Additionally, as the client develops more resources and skills beyond therapy, it becomes easier to navigate hardships without a therapist.
Myth: Successful Therapy is Indicated by 100% Happiness… All the Time
Reality: Part of being human means that we have both positive and negative feelings. Not only is 24/7 happiness impossible to achieve, it is also not optimal for our survival. We learn a lot about ourselves and the world by having different feelings. For example, fear can help us identify danger and anger can let us know we have been wronged and need to act. A successful outcome of therapy is the client’s ability to properly identify, express and cope with a range of different emotions.
Myth: I Have to be in a Crisis to Receive Therapy
Reality: While many people decide to enter therapy after or during a crisis, it is not always the case. In fact, entering therapy for the purposes of self-growth and exploration can be more beneficial for the long term and help build resiliency for future obstacles.
Myth: Therapy is Venting or Complaining
Reality: The power of therapy lies in owning our thoughts, feelings and behaviors and believing that we have some kind of influence over our paths in life. While there are times when individuals need to verbalize how they have been wronged or what is going wrong, therapy mostly focuses on how we can free ourselves from the impact of those troubling relationships or experiences.