Right or Wrong?

How much do you know about Psychotherapy?

What do you think of when you think of therapy? Is it the anxiety and worry of how long it will all take, and more importantly, how much it will all cost? Maybe you are thinking that therapy just doesn’t match up to the success of medication?

Psychotherapy has for years been blighted by fallacies and misconceptions which have inadvertently painted therapy as only intended for the rich and famous, or useful for those deemed “crazy”! The truth is psychotherapy has enormous potential to benefit many of us struggling with a whole spectrum of issues, yet these inaccurate conceptions unsurprisingly leave us feeling that therapy isn’t for us. The following will hopefully clear up some of the most common myths surrounding therapy and help you to make a more informed and beneficial decision regarding your treatment.

 

  • 1. My therapist will know what I’m thinking / they can read my mind.

    Although, psychotherapy is often connected with exploring some of our deepest emotions and experiences, your therapist will only be aware of these if you tell them! Psychotherapists, psychologists and psychiatrists cannot read minds! They work mainly on what you disclose to them as well as their subtle observations of your behaviour. For example, someone who is discussing something very painful may behave in a way that shows that recalling this experience is hard for them; hence they may sit with their arms crossed, turning away from the therapist and looking at the floor! If the therapist acknowledges to the person that they detect how difficult this is for them to talk about, this is not a case of them reading minds but simply an observation of the person’s behaviour. It is important to note that your therapist is not trying to catch you out or detect if you are lying, they are just trying to get a better insight into your situation and consequently how to help!
  • 2. Lie down on the sofa and let’s discuss your childhood!

    One of the more common misconceptions of therapy is that your therapist will ask you to lie down on the sofa and discuss your childhood while they analyse your every word and come to the conclusion that your parents must be at fault. The reality is that in most modern therapy settings, both the client and the therapist will sit facing one another. In psychodynamic psychotherapy sessions, childhood issues are important in analyzing your current thoughts, feelings and behavior, but only in the context of your current everyday life.
  • 3. Therapy can go on for years!

    When looking at how long you may need in therapy, it is important to take into account your own individual situation and what your personal goals are from therapy. This conversation usually takes place in your first session and can be discussed through with your therapist. For some, a series of short-term therapy sessions (between 12-20 sessions) is all that is needed. However, some may require much longer-term therapy that can go on for several months or longer. This length of therapy is usually reserved for those trying to work through several ongoing issues or more serious and complex issues such as personality and family history. However, you don’t have to make this decision alone and you can discuss your concerns through with your therapist who can advise the best length of therapy in light of your needs. At any rate you will have the option to end therapy if you do not feel you are achieving or making progress with your goals.
  • 4. Therapy just isn’t as effective as medication!

    The reality in this ongoing debate is that utilising the benefits of both of these treatments will yield the most positive results. Both therapy and medication have their benefits and their disadvantages, and it is, therefore, important to take into account the individual and his / her specific needs when considering which form of treatment will bring about positive change. It is important to note, however, that medication is not necessarily the gold standard of treatment for all types of human problems. Consequently, therapy has shown itself to be just as effective and long lasting in treating mental health issues as medication.
  • 5. Money Talks – My therapist is only interested because she is getting paid!

    Although it is easy to see how this misconception has taken hold the reality is that there are plenty of occupations that your therapist could have picked which would pay a lot more money. Those who choose a career in psychotherapy, psychology or psychiatry are generally driven by a want to help those around them. Your therapist will sit in front of you with a genuine interest in helping you overcome your problems and not simply because they are paid to be there.
  • 6. Therapy is only for those who can’t deal with their problems and are weak - Therapy is just for 'crazy' people.

    Some of the more damaging misconceptions are centred on the thoughts that therapy is simply for those who are too weak to “handle” the situations they find themselves in or alternatively therapy is only designed for those who have been diagnosed with a psychological disorder. These thoughts are simply not true. There are many reasons why someone would seek psychotherapy. Relationships, stress, grief, jobs, trauma, money, appearance, friends, drugs, anger, depression, anxiety, weight, smoking cessation etc – the list is endless when we think of the issues that face us as human beings and the issues from which we might gain benefit in dealing with by talking them through with someone else. By seeking support with these problems you are taking a proactive and courageous step towards seeking a happier and more fulfilling existence – and this is nothing to be ashamed of!
  • 7. Therapy will quickly fix all of my problems!

    While it is true that therapy has proven very effective in helping individuals lead happier lives, therapy is not about providing a quick fix! Your therapist is not there to solve all of your problems but rather to help guide and support you to gain insight and understanding into your situation. Therapy is about empowering you to make your own decisions which are best for you in your circumstances. If your therapist gave you all the answers to your problems, how would you cope when your therapist wasn’t there? It’s about devoting the time, the care and the self-reflection to better understand the life you lead and to develop the skills useful in facing the difficulties life throws at us.
  • 8. Talking to someone who doesn’t know me won’t help and they might judge me!

    One of the brilliant aspects of therapy is that your therapist does not know you personally and that’s one of the main ways in which they can help. This allows them to be neutral, objective and non-judgmental and allows them to bring a fresh approach to the issue you are facing. While our friends and loved ones can provide enormous support, sometimes it can be difficult to be completely honest for fear of offending them or fear that they may innocently tell others of your problems. During therapy you are talking through your problems in a safe and confidential environment with a trained professional who has spent years learning and practicing his / her trade. The sessions are devoted to you and to hearing of your problem.

Hopefully, you have now gained a more realistic view of what therapy may be like and how it can help people from all walks of life overcome an enormous amount of problems. The choice is in your hands, but if you would like to know more then you are welcome to contact me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Hannan DÜZEN
BACP Registered & Acredited

When considering therapy it is essential to choose a therapist who has both completed a thorough and rigorous training and who is professionally accredited and experienced.