Busting the Myths Behind Therapy

The stigma surrounding therapy often presents common misconceptions.

Photo from Getty Images.

People are afraid to talk about therapy because they don’t want others to think there is something wrong with them,” says Kelley Finch, a clinical social worker at Ocean State Therapy and Wellness in North Kingstown. So, we asked her to debunk some of the most common misconceptions about seeing a therapist and just what is up with the stigma surrounding therapy.

1. Myth: Therapy is just for people who are sick.

Fact: Therapy can be used for maintenance or preventative measures. People go to therapy for all kinds of reasons, whether it’s to cope with trauma, work through stress or just to make sure everything is functioning properly.

 

2. Myth: One therapist fits all.

Fact: Each therapist has different styles, personalities and experiences that they bring to the table. Finding the right therapist means finding someone you’re comfortable with who will be able to help you and your specific needs.

 

3. Myth: Men don’t go to therapy.

Fact: Men definitely do go to therapy. I have just as many male patients as I do female, however many men aren’t open about going to therapy. I think it’s a ‘macho,’ societal thing and they keep it a secret because of the stigma.

 

4. Myth: Once you start going to therapy, you’re in it forever.

Fact: A therapist’s goal is to supply people with the necessary tools they need to apply that knowledge on their own and to achieve some skills or achieve a certain level of healthy functioning. It’s a temporary intervention, and while there are those with chronic mental health issues who need long-term support, the average patient may only need three to six months of therapy.

 

5. Myth: Therapy is a passive practice.

Fact: You have to be engaged in the process for it to work. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) requires actively doing things differently and thinking differently, and is a common therapeutic theory and technique that works to understand how people think and behave. Therapists guide you to discover things that already exist and introduce you to new skills and habits. Change only happens when we’re uncomfortable.

 

6. Myth: Going to therapy means you’re weak.

Fact: It takes incredible strength to seek out help in any form and to be able to say ‘I’m struggling with something and I need help with it.’

 

7. Myth: I don’t need therapy, just medication.

Fact: Medication alone is not necessarily going to help curb all problems, and although it can be effective for some people, it can’t prevent everything. Continuing therapy on some level is also important because you never know when something may come up.