There should be no stigma surrounding those experiencing mental or emotional distress– after all, almost 20% of adults suffer from some kind of mental disorder every year. Unfortunately, the societal stigma surrounding this discussion (just look at the language!) may prevent many people, adults included, from seeking the help they need. But the more we encourage each other and are willing to understand our unique situations, the easier it is for one to seek treatment. Until then, some of us may be led astray by misconceptions surrounding therapy. Luckily, PsychCentral and clinical psychologist Dr. Ryan Howes examined and clarified several of these myths. Here are a couple standouts that I would like to share.
1) Therapy is exclusively for “serious” sufferers.
When many people hear the word “therapy”, their minds instantly conjure images of people who suffer from a serious subset of psychiatric disorders. But therapy is there to help anyone– you don’t need to wait for serious symptoms to occur or to be diagnosed with a classified disorder. Even having a series of rough days, troubling thoughts, or increasingly mounting stress is enough to warrant at least looking into therapy. Waiting can only make underlying issues worse, so the moment you think something is up, you should go ahead and get help to go deeper.
2) Therapists only tell you what you want to hear.
Howes explains that the therapeutic sycophant is a stereotype perpetuated by modern media does involve an encouraging “can do” attitude, it is only representative of a singular facet of therapists’ techniques. Sometimes, the best way to treat your clients is by challenging them and providing and honest education.
3) I won’t learn anything new.
True, you may hear something you’ve heard before. But, Howes says, what differentiates therapy from common sense is the emphasis on insight. It gives the patient to learn more deeply about themselves, free from the assumptions of peers or other critics. It’s a magnificently introspective experience, and allows us to understand just how little we may know about ourselves– even if it seems obvious.