As we find ourselves in what many say is a more modern, enlightened age, many people are looking at therapy with new eyes. For many, therapy is no longer a mystical, unknown thing that happens behind a closed door and is talked about in a hushed tone. People are beginning to realize understanding that you may need a little help isn’t a negative thing, but a discovery that can lead to a happier, fuller life.
However, even though mental health is no longer an awkward word in many situations, you’d be surprised how many people still believe some common misconceptions about therapy. Sometimes what you hear on TV or as you eat your lunch in the break room at work can stick in your head, often influencing you in ways you may not even detect.
Let’s take a look at a few of these myths and begin to understand why the truth is almost always better than fiction. Put on your debunking hat and get ready to learn the facts!
Myth #1: People will automatically think I’m “crazy.”
Many studies have shown the main reason that people don’t enter into therapy sooner is because they are afraid of what those close to them might think. However, it also seems that sometimes what mere acquaintances think can take center stage. Many imagine the worst thing that could possibly happen is for their boss to realize they have an anxiety disorder. And patients have even been known to skip a therapy appointment because they didn’t want the nosy neighbor next door leaving her dentist appointment to see them walking into a therapy office.
These objections to therapy may seem very real to some, but let me assure you, they are not reasons to miss out on reaping the rewards therapy can bring. Most patients find that their loved ones are extremely supportive, and may even decide it’s high time they see a counselor about their insomnia. Therapy can help you through some of the toughest times in your life, so please don’t miss out on that help simply because you’re afraid of what others may think.
Myth #2: Therapy is way too expensive.
To think that therapy can be really expensive is not entirely untrue. If you walked into a therapy office off the street and sat down for an hour-long counseling session, you may find yourself raising your eyebrows at the bill you receive. As that therapy isn’t exactly the least expensive way to spend your Thursday afternoon, many people think they can’t afford therapy, or that their problems aren’t “severe enough” to actually pay to see a professional counselor.
If you’ve watched the news in passing, you may have picked up that we are probably in for a few changes in our healthcare system. So, what we’re looking at today for costs may be entirely different a few months down the road. However, with the Affordable Care Act changes in 2014, there has never been a time when more patients can receive the mental health care they need at prices they can afford. In fact, it is a requirement of most insurance plans to utilize preventative health, even in the realm of mental healthcare. What this means is mental health screenings used to detect conditions like anxiety or depression are not only encouraged, but they will typically not even incur any additional charges to the patient. Once a treatment plan is set in motion, therapy options can be affordable and easily maintained. After all, isn’t your mental health worth it?
Myth #3: Any therapist will do.
Once you decide your mental health is important enough to you to make that first appointment, then you have a few decisions to make. However, many people seeking counseling think therapists are all the same. In fact, they rarely even ask a question or two when finding a therapist. Is it really as simple as thumbing through a directory and choosing the therapist that’s closest to your house or office? If they all basically receive the same education, have to pass the same testing and must have the same license, won’t the service they offer be pretty much the same, too?
Well, surprise surprise! No two therapists are equal, and there are so many determining factors to consider when choosing the therapist that’s right for you. It’s extremely important your personalities click, and that you truly feel like your therapist is “on your side.” Yet in this day and age, one of the most important factors is that your therapist is utilizing the tools at their disposal. In other words, try to find a therapist with a modern practice. Many therapists offer technology that can send you appointment reminders or can even set up a video session if you need to miss your office visit for any reason. If you’re going to invest in therapy, be sure to choose a therapist who can offer you the latest solutions.
Myth #4: Therapy will make my problems worse.
Thinking about going to therapy for the first time can sometimes pile a bit more stress onto the anxiety you may already have, which may be why you’re wanting to go to therapy in the first place. Yet, it seems some people still have the wrong idea about what goes on behind that closed office door. If you have some scenarios in your past (like we all do), thinking about dredging those problems all up again may not seem like the most pleasant experience in the world. In fact, it even has some people wondering if digging up those memories you so carefully buried beneath new, more positive experiences might even send you three steps back.
To understand the way this works, you first have to learn a bit more about therapy. Therapy is not about putting a bandaid over a gaping wound that most definitely needs stitches. To move beyond a traumatic situation or even everyday occurrences that leave a negative impact, you must first understand two things: what effect is left behind and what choices do you make to help you deal with the way it makes you feel. A therapist is a professional, and therefore qualified to get to the root of the problem so the recovery process can truly begin. This is the best outcome you can hope for — to work through your past problems and to move forward.
Myth #5: I don’t have to think about my therapy until my next appointment.
Sometimes people in therapy may not completely understand they must really do their part. Many think merely showing up for that weekly appointment is all that needs to be done on their end. After all, you go in, sit down and answer your therapist’s questions as honestly and candidly as possible. You maybe even recount an event that really got your anxiety going this week, like a run-in with a difficult co-worker or the stress of losing your keys for the second time this month. That’s putting your time in, right?
No matter what you hear or even think you have learned from your own therapy history, you’re not just a passive part of this process. Staying engaged in your therapy can be the main difference between a negative and a positive outcome. Thankfully, therapists agree and are usually making investments to ensure you are a huge part in your treatment. Some therapists are turning to technology to make keeping up with your therapy even easier, with apps you can download to your smartphone or tablet. These new tools can help screen for mental health conditions, and they can also send questionnaires and surveys to you at home to monitor your progress between appointments. You’ll never “accidentally” forget about your therapy treatment again!
Now that you know the truth about what you may have heard about therapy, you can make your own educated decision about whether therapy is right for you. If you find that your anxiety at work or your depression on the weekends is keeping you from being the very best version of yourself, then don’t hesitate to learn more.
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Thinkstock photo via IconicBestiary.