Common Therapy Myths: Read The 10 Common Misconceptions

A couple in a happy relationship that have understood the concept of attachment styles

Have you ever considered therapy but hesitated because of lingering questions or misconceptions? You're not alone! Therapy can be a powerful tool for personal growth and well-being, but it's also shrouded in some common therapy myths. 

At Connect Clinical Services, we want to clear the air and empower you to make informed decisions about your mental health. Misguided notions about what really goes on in a practicing psychotherapist's office often come from novels or television. They portray psychotherapists as incompetent hacks, more disturbed than their clients. Some scenes are good, some bad, and others downright comical. Numerous myths about psychotherapy continue to show up in the written word, on the screen, and in the workplace. Here are ten of the most common ones:

Therapy Myth #1: Only weak or crazy people need therapy.

Fact: This is a big misconception! Seeking therapy is a sign of strength and self-awareness. The average therapy client struggles with many of the same problems we all struggle with daily: relationships, self-doubt, confidenceself-esteem, work-life stress, life transitions, depression, and anxiety. People from all walks of life benefit from therapy, addressing a wide range of challenges and goals. It's no different from going to the gym for your physical health; therapy helps you strengthen your mental and emotional well-being. 

Therapy Myth #2: Therapy sessions look like something out of a movie, with the therapist passively taking notes.

Fact:  The classic image of therapy from movies might be outdated. While some therapists may use notes, the environment is typically a comfortable space where you can have a conversation face-to-face. The focus is on open communication and creating a safe space for you to explore your thoughts and feelings. Good therapists often ask if the distance is comfortable and refrain from taking notes until after the session so they can be present with clients.

Therapy Myth #3: Therapy is all about becoming friends with your therapist.

Fact: The myth often seen in literature that you pay a psychotherapist to be nice to you and care for you is unfounded. Therapists maintain a professional relationship with their clients. While a sense of trust and rapport is essential, therapy is not about friendship. The therapist's role is to provide objective guidance and support, not personal advice. It's the therapist's absolute commitment and requirement of ethics and law that the relationship is limited to counseling sessions and necessary email, phone, or text contacts.

Therapy Myth #4: Therapy is just a place to vent and doesn't involve any work.

Fact: Therapy isn't passive. It is a core element but not the only tool. Therapists use various techniques depending on your needs, including journaling exercises, relaxation techniques, or role-playing scenarios. With today's cutting-edge therapies, clinicians are trained in experiential and therapist-led modalities that engage both parties in an interactive, collaborative process based on dialogue and the client's active engagement in joint problem-solving. Together, psychotherapists and clients identify problems, set goals, and monitor progress, sometimes with homework and reading assignments as part of the process.

Therapy Myth #5: Therapists are like magicians with solutions for every issue.

Fact: Therapists don't have magic answers, but they can equip you with the tools and strategies to navigate challenges and make positive changes. What is essential in establishing the therapist-client alliance is not what the therapist thinks is important to bring about change but what the client thinks is important. Therapy is a collaborative process where you work together with your therapist to find solutions that work for you. A good therapist tailors treatment sessions around clients' needs instead of plugging clients into ready-made formulas.

Therapy Myth #6: Therapy is all about blaming your parents for your problems.

Fact: While childhood experiences can shape us, therapists take a holistic approach. They explore various factors contributing to your current situation and help you move forward, not dwell on the past. They don't blame clients or their parents. They bring an objective, bird's-eye perspective to help clients see the water they're swimming in and allow them to take responsibility for their lives. Professional therapists never admonish, blame, or shame clients into change.

Therapy Myth #7: Therapists can give you medicine for your mental health struggles.

Fact: This is a common myth. The term "psychotherapist" is a broad umbrella that includes licensed social workers, marriage and family therapists, practicing counselors, and psychologists. They are not medical doctors and cannot prescribe medication. However, they can collaborate with psychiatrists or other healthcare professionals if medication is deemed necessary. 

Therapy Myth #8: Therapy is a quick fix, solvable in just a few visits.

Fact: It would be wonderful if therapy were a quick fix, but lasting change often takes time and dedication. Psychotherapy takes many more sessions to get to the heart of a problem. The duration of therapy depends on your individual needs and goals. The average session is around 50 to 60 minutes, and the first session is an intake and getting acquainted session. Some people see significant results within a few sessions, while others benefit from longer-term therapy.  

Therapy Myth #9: Therapists believe you can't change who you are as an adult.

Fact:  Our personalities are constantly evolving throughout our lives. The belief that you can't teach old dogs new tricks is perhaps the biggest myth of them all. Neuroscientists have shown that the brain is malleable, and MRI technology allows us to see this change. Using the latest in MRI brain imaging technology, researchers from the University of Wisconsin have shown that meditation naturally and beneficially increases the brain's neural mass (gray matter) by harnessing the brain's "neuroplastic" potential. While early experiences can influence us, therapy empowers you to understand your patterns and develop new ways of thinking and behaving.

Therapy Myth #10: Every therapy session should leave you feeling instantly better.

Fact: Therapy can be an emotional journey, and you might not always feel sunshine and rainbows after each session. This scenario might be convenient for a storyline, but nothing is further from the truth. Clients are not cars, and therapists aren't mechanics. Clients are active participants, while therapists help them face and uncover whatever is bothering them. That process takes time and can be initially difficult and painful. Having feelings stirred up is part of the therapeutic process. When psychotherapists describe the healing trajectory, we often say sometimes things get worse before they get better. However, skilled therapists are trained in how to lead clients through the storm into the calm. However, with consistent effort, you'll gain valuable insights and develop tools to manage difficult emotions and build a more fulfilling life.  

Do you have any lingering questions about therapy? Share them in the comments below, and we'll address them in a future post! 

Ready to take the next step?

Connect Clinical Services offers a team of experienced therapists who can create a personalized therapy plan specifically for you. We understand that starting therapy can feel daunting, but we're here to support you every step of the way. Contact Connect Clinical Services today for a free consultation and see how therapy can empower you to create a happier and healthier you!