Until quite recently, people were uncomfortable discussing therapy because of the stigma attached by our society. As a result, there are still some fairly big misconceptions about it. Here are 3 of the most common misconceptions about therapy to help you feel more comfortable and hopefully, take that step to seek treatment.
It’s Just Like Talking to Your Friend
While friends are there to listen and support you, they are not equipped to offer real solutions to your problems. Therapists, on the other hand, are uniquely qualified to help you by offering more than just good advice.
Therapists have trained to have a deeper understanding of human nature. They can help you recognize your own behavioral patterns as well as offer tools to make necessary adjustments. They can also help you to gain a fresh perspective on the events of your life and the choices you’ve made.
And finally, we don’t always want our friends or family to know what’s going on in our lives. Because therapy is confidential and because your therapist’s only vested interest in you is helping you improve yourself and overcome your challenges, it is generally easier talking openly with them. Only by being totally honest and transparent about your life and yourself can you hope to create lasting change.
Therapy is All About Dredging Up the Past
Many people assume therapy consists of spending 45 minutes each week, laying on a couch, talking about their childhood. You can thank Frazier Crane and Sigmund Freud for those stereotypes! In reality, therapy isn’t all about the past. Counselors care about how you are doing present-day and what your goals are for the future. Every counselor has a theoretical approach to therapy (Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy, Psychodynamic, Solution-Focused, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, Jungian, etc.), and each approach has a unique perspective on the role of the past in therapy. Counselors that adopt a solution-focused approach don’t care about the past much at all!
How does the past come to play, then?
First, therapists do have to look at a client’s history to get a clear picture of their experiences and patterns. While many people who are new to therapy may not want to spend any time “wallowing in the past,” they must understand that the first phase of therapy is to gather information. A therapist must ask some questions about their new client’s life history in order to truly understand him or her. Past experiences do have a way of shaping our personalities and our beliefs about ourselves and the world around us.
Secondly, significant life events from the past may be worth processing, but only if it’s something both you and your therapist both agree would be beneficial. Some clients specifically seek out therapists with a trauma specialty for the explicit purpose of healing past wounds. Even then, processing past events is meant to improve your life as it exists today. Clients are taught a variety of coping skills to alleviate any anxiety or triggering that may occur when discussing sensitive events from the past.
You’ll Start to Feel Better Immediately
Many people new to therapy make the mistake of quitting when they don’t feel better after one or two sessions. The truth is, it will take one or two sessions just to tell your story and develop a sense of trust. Therapy shouldn’t be thought of as a quick fix but a process that is unique to each individual. And, it is important to understand that the process won’t always feel good, though it will be completely worthwhile in the end.
If you or a loved one is interested in exploring counseling, please contact us today. We have a counselor that might be able to help!