Ok, right off the bat, this article is going to be biased. I’m a therapist writing about why therapy is so great and why the myths about therapy are wrong. HOWEVER, there are plenty of myths that exist about therapy that really are completely misinformed. Mental health and therapy are becoming increasingly popular subjects as the generations continue, yet the misconceptions associated with therapy still seem to be pretty stubborn and persistent. This article hopes to clear up some common misconceptions about therapy and provide you with more accurate information about what to expect if you see a therapist.

Myth 1: You Have To Be “Crazy” To Go To Therapy

Therapy is great for people who are really struggling with their mental health, but you know who else it’s great for? Almost anyone. This myth is very common, especially among particular cultures and the older generations, but it is absolutely false. You do not have to have a mental health diagnosis to see a therapist, and you do not have to be “going insane” to go to therapy. You can absolutely go to a therapist with every day, run-of-the-mill troubles like stress, adjustment difficulties, difficulty coping, anxiety, sadness, relationship difficulties, etc.

Myth 2: Therapists Can “Fix” You/A Loved One

Talk to any therapist and bring up this myth; you’re sure to get a good laugh. As unfortunate as it is, therapists cannot wave a magic wand and cure all your ailments, that’s not the point of therapy anyway. A therapist is a passenger in your car, and you are the driver. We can guide you and give you direction, but in the end you’re the one who has to do the driving and put in the work. Out of the hundreds and hundreds of clients I’ve seen the ones who make the most progress are the ones who are motivated to change and dedicated to put in the work.

This is also very true for your loved ones. I often have parents come into therapy expecting me to “fix” their child and correct their behavior. Again, that’s not what therapy is about. When it comes to family and children, change often has to come from the WHOLE family not just one family member. If I could reach into your child’s brain and turn a switch to get them to do their homework, I would, but that’s not possible.

Myth 3: Therapists Are One Size Fits All

How many times have you heard a friend or family member say something along the lines of, “I tried therapy once and it wasn’t for me.” Upon further examination you realize they only went to one therapy session, with one therapist, about five years ago. Therapy is not a one size fits all system, and different therapists will match with different clients. You don’t go to a doctor and go, “I didn’t like that doctor at all. I’m never going to another doctor again.”, so why would you do the same thing for therapy?

That isn’t to say that there are not bad therapists out there, there definitely are! But there are also bad lawyers, bad teachers, bad nurses, bad doctors, bad transportation workers, bad receptionists, bad landlords, bad scientists….you get my drift. Keep looking! You are more than likely to find a therapist whose style you enjoy and who you work well with. Don’t just sample a little taste and decide it’s not for you.

Myth 4: Therapy Is Too Expensive

Listen, I’m not going to sit here, at my laptop, typing this article out and telling you that therapy is cheap. It’s not cheap. However, therapy is probably more affordable than you realize. There are many therapists who accept insurance and many more therapists who provide a sliding scale for payments based off of your income. If you are unsure if there are therapists in your area who are in your network, call your insurance. Your insurance should be able to provide you with a list of eligible providers. There is also the option of seeing a therapist through EAP, and that is free!!

You also have to consider that the money you’re putting into therapy is an investment in yourself and your mental health. The peace that can come from therapy is often invaluable. Maybe you have expensive habits that therapy can help you to cut out (ex. Smoking. How much is a pack of cigarettes nowadays? About $13; it adds up). Maybe you want to find a new, better paying job but you are not motivated to do so. Therapy can help you muster up the motivation to apply for that new job. Maybe you have trouble telling people no, and you’re spending a lot of money each week buying food with friends. Therapy can help you learn to be more assertive and set healthier boundaries. The point here, is that therapy can often end up saving you a lot of money and is worth the investment in your mental health and well-being.

Myth 5: You Will Be Put On Meds/Hospitalized

A lot of people fear that they may say the wrong thing and be hospitalized involuntarily and put on meds. While it is true that therapists have to report cases of harm to self, harm to others, and abuse, it is also very possible that what you talk about in therapy will be met with nonjudgmental acceptance. Believe me, I’ve heard A LOT, some strange, some kind of scary, some deep and dark and I have openly listened without judgment to each and every one of my clients. If you do not have intention of harming yourself or another person, and you are not abusing anyone or being abused, you are very likely to not be hospitalized. If anything, the goal of therapy is to prevent that from even occurring in the first place.

It’s also very likely that a therapist you see will not be able to prescribe medication. Again, the main point of therapy is not to medicate. While medication can be very helpful for people, therapy aims to help individuals find alternative ways of coping with distress.

By, Marion R. White, MHC-LP, EAP Counselor