Misconceptions about mental health and therapy prevent many people from talking to a professional. Although one in four Americans report seeing a counselor during their lifetime, according to a 2018 survey conducted by the Barna group, individuals who seek counseling are most likely to have family members who attend therapy. Those who haven’t known anyone who goes to counseling are much less likely to receive treatment.
Individuals who don’t have family members attending therapy may not understand the purpose of treatment. Or, they may be skeptical about the effectiveness of therapy.
Clearing up misunderstandings about therapy might encourage more people to talk to someone about their mindset. Here are seven things mental health experts wish everyone knew about therapy:
No one ever says, “She’s weak. That’s why she goes to the dentist to get her teeth cleaned.” After all, we appreciate people who take care of their teeth.
People don’t always get the same respect when they choose to take care of their minds. There’s a stigma attached to therapy, and some people still insist that seeing a mental health professional is a sign of weakness.
But the truth is, it takes strength to ask for help. And it takes strength to admit that you don’t have all of the answers and want to invest time into improving yourself.
A mental illness, like depression, isn’t a sign of weakness any more than a physical illness, like seasonal allergies. While developing mental strength can improve mental health, it doesn’t guarantee you won’t ever develop an illness.
Many people imagine that therapy involves lying on a couch and talking about emotional injuries from childhood. And while some therapists may want to address old childhood wounds, not all do.
There are many different types of therapy. Some therapists use a solution-focused approach that focuses on how to make things better in the future, regardless of what happened in the past. Others use cognitive behavioral therapy — where they help patients identify and reframe distorted thinking patterns so they can feel better and take more productive actions.
Before signing up with a therapist, you might ask them what type of therapy they use or what types of theoretical frameworks guide their practice. Most of them share this information on their website — and those who don’t are often willing to offer short, free phone consultations to provide this information to prospective clients.
What matters more than the type of therapy is whether you found a therapist who is a good fit for you. After all, treatment won’t be effective if you don’t feel comfortable opening up or trust the treatment your therapist is providing.
According to some research, 93% of people lie to their therapist. Perhaps many of those people lie because they don’t feel comfortable telling their therapist the truth.
If you feel as though you and your therapist aren’t a good match, you can fire your therapist at any time. And while you may worry that you’ll offend your therapist, the truth is that therapists get fired often. They recognize that, for one reason or another, they sometimes just aren’t a good match with someone.
If sitting in a therapist’s office sounds too inconvenient (or perhaps too intense), online therapy is an alternative — and often just as effective — way to get treatment.
Since its inception, The National Digest has been dedicated to providing authoritative and thought-provoking insights into trending topics and the latest happenings.