Therapy Revealed: Fact vs. Fiction
Updated: Aug 13, 2020
What is therapy really?
Therapy consists of a dialogue between a therapist and client. It is a collaborative process in which the client has input in their treatment and the direction of their goals. The therapist should provide a supportive environment in which they are nonjudgmental and objective. Often, there are specific ‘problems’ which one may seek therapy for. The therapist helps the client work through those problems while processing their thoughts and feelings, in addition to building skills for clients to use in their day to day life. The truth is, therapy is work, and is not a quick fix. (But there are no quick fixes for lasting change!)
Who is therapy for?
The short answer is everyone! Our mental and emotional health are just as important as our physical health. Today more than ever, as we navigate the changes and stressors of the world, it is important to take care of our mental well-being. It is estimated that 50% of Americans suffer from a mental illness in their lifetime, and one third of people ages 18-44 years old are hospitalized yearly due to mental health concerns. This tells us that many people are directly impacted by mental health problems, and that those who are not directly impacted are still exposed to concerns through their loved ones. Whether or not you are directly impacted by a serious mental health disorder therapy can still be beneficial. We are all filled with preconceived notions about therapy. Here are some common mistruths that many hold about therapy.
Common Mistruths about Therapy
Therapy is only for people who have ‘serious issues’ and if you go there is something wrong with you.
False! While therapy is beneficial to those with more ‘serious issues’, a variety of topics can be covered in therapy. Therapy can be helpful to anyone who wants a space to process their experiences and can cover topics such as communication, boundaries, self-esteem, coping skills, etc. I am sure we can all agree that nobody is perfect, however, nothing has to be ‘wrong’ with you to go to therapy. Therapy is for anyone who wants extra support (which if we are being honest, we all could probably use!)
My therapist will be judgmental.
Therapists are trained to be non-judgmental. While each person holds their own implicit biases, a good therapist is constantly educating themselves and doing work to acknowledge their own biases, so that their therapeutic relationships can be non-judgmental. It is never a therapists’ job to decide what is right or wrong for you, but more so their job to provide you a space to come to those decisions on your own, while being supported and/or challenged along the way.
Therapy requires medication, lab tests, and intense psychological examination to be successful.
Although some types of treatment include the use of medications and psychological examination conducted by a psychiatrist to help clients, psychotherapy, also known as ‘talk therapy’ does not. Coming to therapy, no one is forced prescription medications or to be ‘sent away’ to inpatient care. Hollywood in the past has had a good run of displaying therapy on screen as a scary, cold, and an impersonal experience; this could not be further from the truth!
Therapy is only for adults; it's just sitting and talking.
Therapy is for all ages and developmental levels. There are even types of therapy for infants and parents to do together. Play therapy is therapy specifically designed for children to help children express their thoughts and feelings through the action of play. For teens and adults, some therapists chose to do a more hands-on approach to therapy and include worksheets, games, art activities, and more to engage with their clients.
Why pay for therapy when I can get free therapy from my friends, my hairstylist, etc.?
Therapists are trained professionals with years of experience (and a degree) that backs up their work. They are not just cheering you on or offering advice, but their work comes from a place that is grounded in theory and research, instead of getting advice from a friend or relative that is based on their own personal experience. While it is great to have support from loved ones, therapy offers you a place to receive support from an educated, unbiased place. Yes, you are paying for a service, but therapy should be seen as an investment in yourself!
There are many misconceptions about therapy,so hopefully breaking down these mistruths has helped ease your mind and answered some questions! If you are looking to get started with therapy there is no better time than the present! If you are located in SC, you can check out our contact page to schedule with us. If you are not located in SC, finding a therapist can still be easy! Ask for recommendations from your doctor, church, friends, or check out sites such as Psychology Today or Therapy Den.
Written by Sherry Kay Fulmer and Trilby Yonkovitz
Center for Disease Control and Prevention. (January 26, 2018). Data and Publications. https://www.cdc.gov/mentalhealth/data_publications/index.htm
Understanding Psychotherapy and How it Works. (April 20, 2020). American Psychological Association. https://www.apa.org/topics/understanding-psychotherapy