941-462-4807 meg@megyounglcsw.com

therapy myths I find it interesting when I talk with people about their expectations coming to therapy. I am amazed at how many myths and misconceptions about counseling are still prevalent, which is preventing people from deciding that therapy would be helpful to them.
When we decide not to come to therapy due to these outdated or inaccurate beliefs about therapy, we lose out on living our lives to the fullest.
Not only do we lose out on living our lives to the fullest, but others lose out on us being our best. Life is so crazy now with always needing to be connected with the phones, internet, and social media, not to mention the expectations that we should be doing more with less every day.
When we decide that we don’t want to go to therapy because of these myths, it affects us as well as those around us. However, when we live our lives to the fullest, it shows through and others notice our positivity as well.
Perhaps you learned what you believe about therapy through your family and friends or perhaps through movies which often portrays therapy inaccurately. Either way, there are still have many myths and misconceptions about therapy which lead people to not want to come.
Unfortunately, living with these misconceptions and thus deciding therapy isn’t going to be helpful for us, perpetuates the cycle of misconceptions. It is hard to break a cycle if we don’t see the other side of the coin.
You are not alone when you believe several misconceptions about therapy, but there is also no reason to stay ignorant to the truth when there is so much information out there. It is normal to be skeptical if therapy can help, but the reality is, unless you are willing to try something, you will never know what you personally believe about it.
It’s true that you may be skeptical about whether therapy can help you, but the fact that you are reading this blog tells me that you are willing to challenge the misconceptions you may have about therapy. By challenging several of the most common myths and misconceptions about therapy, we can look at the other side and make our own decisions.
Keep reading for the top 10 myths and realities about counseling so you can challenge your own thoughts and do what is right for you to feel better as quickly as possible.
The biggest downfall to continuing to believe these outdated beliefs about therapy is continuing the cycle of incorrect beliefs. The thought that therapy is only for sick or weak individuals is just not true and as our culture is becoming faster and requiring more of us with less resources, the need for therapy becomes greater.
At the very least, continuing the believe those outdated myths will prevent you from your own growth and development. There are so many benefits to therapy for each individual that when we move past the old beliefs and try something we previously discounted, we are able to see the real power of counseling.
Living with these outdated beliefs is discouraging because it perpetuates stigma and prevents growth. It will take time for the entirety of the stigma to dissipate. If I can help just one person change some of their outdated beliefs about therapy, this blog will be worth it.
Isn’t this what we all want? Although you struggle with the belief of whether therapy can actually help you, you have the potential to challenge those thoughts and learn the reality of what therapy can do for you.
When we challenge these outdated beliefs, we have the opportunity to learn something new and understand it better. When we understand something, we are more likely to feel comfortable with it.
When we choose to open our minds to hearing what the reality is about a situation, we have the possibility to change so much about our world. Outdated beliefs and stigmas are often at the root of so many of our world’s dilemmas and pitfalls.
Yes it’s true you may still be skeptical about therapy, but just an understanding of what the myths and realities are can make a big difference in your opinions.
The key to making educated and informed decisions is to hear all sides of the situation. If you only listen to one side, you do not get the full picture. As for therapy, our world changes as we change. Maybe some of the myths you believe were once true. Additionally, where you get your information makes a great difference on whether it is accurate or not. Many movies do not portray therapy as it truly is.
Take a look at these top 10 myths and realities and see how many of the myths you believe. I would love to hear from you after reading them. How many did you believe? What did reading the realities make you think and feel? Are you still skeptical? Do you believe the realities or are the myths so ingrained that it is hard to believe the facts?
Take a look at these top 10 myths and realities of counseling you so can make an educated and informed decision about what counseling is really like and whether it will help you
Myth 1: Therapy is only for people who are “weak” or “crazy”
I completely understand this one. Many people believe this. Sometimes it’s because we are told by family and friends, other times it’s what is portrayed in social media or movies. Still other times people are told “I did it without therapy” which makes us think we “should” be able to as well.
Reality 1: Therapy can help literally everyone with something at some point in their lives
We are all going through something. To make matters worse, our culture is not supportive of a calm lifestyle which our brains need. We are designed to shut down and rest. We are not designed to go, go, go. With the advent of social media and the advent of cell phones with internet, we have a hard time shutting down. Additionally, we are asked to do more with less every day at work. We all bring baggage from out past into our present. It is just a matter of how that baggage is stored. If things went ideally for you throughout your entire life, your baggage will never bother you. However, nobody has everything going ideally for them throughout their entire lives. There is no blame here at all. The reality is nobody and no life is absolutely perfect.
When things don’t go ideally, it does not mean you are weak or crazy. When you need and ask for support, ideas or advice, you are strong. Think about what your supervisor does for you at work. Or when you hire someone to cut your trees. When you ask questions and get advice and help from these people, you don’t think twice about it. But their support, guidance, and ability to help you is vital to your goals. Therapy is exactly the same.
Myth 2: Therapy is endless
If you know anything about Sigmund Freud, you will know that he did long term therapy with his clients. Because of that, and how much people rely on old knowledge, it make sense that you would think you’d be in therapy forever.
Reality 2: Counseling can be very short term or very long term
First of all, if you are paying with insurance, many insurance companies don’t want to pay forever. They only allow a certain number of visits to a therapist per year. That aside, there are several “forms” of therapy including one called Solution Focused Brief Therapy. The point of therapy is to get out of it what you want. If you want a short term approach, that is a possibility. Everyone who comes to therapy comes with different needs, desires, goals, and motivations. Sometimes counseling can be as short as 3-5 sessions. Other times it can be years.
Myth 3: I have to lie down on a couch
This one probably came from reality. Sigmund Freud did a lot of psychoanalysis in which he had his clients on a couch. However, it was likely solidified in our beliefs through movies.
Reality 3: Depending on the type of therapy you do, most therapist want you sitting up
We want to have a conversation with you. We want to see you and your body language. This is all hard to do when you are lying down. Additionally, we want this to be a safe environment. Lying down can make people feel more vulnerable.
Myth 4: I will be blamed/shamed, or my parents will
Movies will sometimes portray that “it’s your parent’s fault” or society will believe that “you should have known better” so it makes sense that you worry about this. Nobody wants to be told that they are their family is “bad” or did something wrong.
Reality 4: We are not here to blame or shame anyone
It hurt when you were blamed as a child, especially when you didn’t have control over a situation. Therapists don’t want to recreate that. Therapy isn’t about blame. We don’t “care” about fault. We care about helping you find the solutions you are looking for to meet your goals. If you want to understand where some negative self belief (I’m an idiot for example) came from, we can help you identify whether these were real or perceived statements to you growing up that you took on for example, but again, we will not blame anybody.
Myth 5: Therapists can’t help because they haven’t been through it.
This is a very common myth. There are several places that this came from, and honestly, there might be some truth to somebody not being able to comprehend the magnitude of what you are dealing with. We all have different experiences and experience things in different ways, so it makes sense that you feel alone and possibly even misunderstood.
Reality 5: Even if we went through what you did, it does not mean we understand what you are going through.
We do not have to go through what you did to understand that you are hurting, confused, angry, hopeless, helpless, or need help at this moment.
Everybody comes to the table with a different set of experiences in life. The same event happening to two people can cause completely different reactions in them. For example, my family went through Hurricane Andrew in Miami when I was a kid. My brother is a year younger than me. I was completely traumatized by the hurricane for years, but my brother never stressed over it afterward. He slept fine the next night (not me!), he didn’t become obsessed with weather (I did!), he doesn’t stress out when severe weather happens in other parts of the US (yup, I still do). We grew up together, but for some reason, this hurricane was much more impactful to me than to my brother. Two people going through the same experience with very different after effects.
A therapist’s job is to help you through your pain. We can empathize with your pain without having to feel it ourselves and still be very effective therapists.
Myth 6: Good therapy happens only in a medical environment
Ok, I don’t know where this came from. Likely a Western Medical Model. There are a lot of clinics which include a psychiatrist, and many therapists work within a primary care facility as well. However, there are many who are in private practice and their offices are not stark and medical-like.
Reality 6: Therapy can happen in many environments
Aside from what I said above about non-medical looking offices, I know therapists who work with adolescents. They will often take the adolescent outside to play basketball or go for a walk. Adolescents don’t necessarily sit still in a therapist’s office well.
The reality is the number one factor in how successful therapy is is the therapeutic relationship. If the client trusts the therapist, the therapy is more likely to be successful. If a therapist stays rigid and unbending to people’s differences, we may miss that therapeutic alliance.
Myth 7: I will go into therapy blind; I won’t know what to expect
When you walk into a therapist’s office for the first time (even if you’ve been to therapy before), you may worry that you won’t know what to expect. Every therapist is different and every experience is different. So it makes sense that you worry about this. Unknowns are pretty scary sometimes.
Reality 7: What is the number one predictor in how successful therapy will be? The relationship.
Because of that, we want you to know what to expect in every step of the process. Every therapist is different, but we all want the same feeling of safety for you. If you don’t know what to expect, please ask the therapist.
Myth 8: Therapy is not a collaborative process; the therapist guides it all
Many people come to therapy because they don’t know what to do to get where they want to be. Because of this, they expect the therapist to do what they think it right and guide the treatment. Whereas therapists will guide the treatment to some degree, you are in the driver’s seat.
Reality 8: Therapy works best when it is a collaborative process.
The therapist cannot know what is going on in your mind or what you need without your input. Furthermore, the therapist cannot know whether therapy is on the right track without your input. You are paying the therapist for a service. Why would you not be involved in the process?
Myth 9: I cannot ask therapists questions, especially about them
You may have gone to therapy in the past and asked a therapist a question about themselves in which they turned that question back on you. A common question is “do you have kids?” When a therapist is asked this, the therapist may turn it back on the client to know what is underlying that question. Is it a concern that the therapist won’t be able to understand you because they don’t have kids themselves?
Because many times questions to therapists have been turned back on the client, it makes sense that you may believe this.
Reality 9: Some level of self disclosure may be appropriate, but therapy is not an even playing field relationship
Therapists are taught in school to not self-disclose. We are taught that there is always an underlying concern that we should address when a client asks us a question. However, a certain level of self-disclosure may be helpful to the therapeutic relationship at times.
Furthermore, therapists are a bit more transparent than several years ago. We try to be seen as human and not some stoic thing. This being said, you are paying us for a service. We do not want to blur those boundaries or make you feel uncomfortable.
If you ask a personal question of the therapist and the therapist doesn’t respond, that does not mean they won’t to other questions. It depends on whether the question is appropriate to be answered.
Myth 10: Confidentiality isn’t a reality
You may wonder how we go home and when our significant others ask how our day was, we don’t share. Some people have very intense or interesting stories that it may seem odd that we wouldn’t want to share. Maybe we would like to share or even vent to a significant other. However, the majority of therapists out there understand the importance of confidentiality. Even sharing something as simple as a story may be enough to break confidentiality.
Reality 10: Breaking confidentiality does happen, but it is not the norm by any means
Things happen whether on purpose or by accident. Most therapists are very ethical and try very hard to not break confidentiality. If you attend a group, that puts another spin on things – we cannot guarantee that the other group members will maintain confidentiality, although it is something stated in every group meeting.
Many therapists attend supervision or consultation and will have you sign a confidentiality statement so you know when and how your confidentiality may be broken. Many therapists will add into this confidentiality statement that we attend consultation and do our best to protect your confidentiality, however we may discuss your case in order to better help you through additional ideas from the consultation meetings.
These 10 myths are very common, but there might be other myths I did not address here. It is important for you to be educated about how therapy can help you and by busting myths, you may feel more confident and comfortable giving therapy a try.
It is important to do some research on the therapist you may choose. There are so many therapists and there is so much information on the internet that there is no reason you should just choose a therapist out of a hat and hope for the best.
You absolutely can reach your full potential and obtain the life you want. You can reach your goals, feel better, more confident, more in control of yourself and your life. Attending therapy today is very different than attending therapy a decade ago, but it is also very similar.
I want to help you make an educated decision on whether therapy is right for you and choosing a good therapist. Even if I am not the right therapist for you, I look forward to hearing your responses and any myths I didn’t address to help you better understand what therapy is all about and whether it is the right choice for you.
Subscribe to my youtube channel as well as I have several videos there about therapy!