Debunking 8 Myths About Seeking Mental Health Therapy

Debunk the com­mon myths about psy­chother­a­py and ther­a­pists that are dif­fi­cult to break

Myth: Ther­a­py is only for peo­ple with severe men­tal illness.

Fact: Peo­ple seek psy­chother­a­py to address a mul­ti­tude of issues, includ­ing, but not lim­it­ed to depres­sion, anx­i­ety and life tran­si­tions (ex. changes in job, marital/​family dif­fi­cul­ties or cop­ing with chron­ic ill­ness). Many peo­ple look to ther­a­py as a pre­ven­ta­tive mea­sure. Annu­al check-ups can help give you guid­ance and rec­om­men­da­tions on how to pre­vent fur­ther health issues. For exam­ple, a pri­ma­ry care physi­cian might advise you to increase phys­i­cal activ­i­ty to help low­er your cho­les­terol. In a sim­i­lar fash­ion, psy­chol­o­gists or ther­a­pists assess your symp­toms and offer treat­ment rec­om­men­da­tions for relief.

Myth: I must be weak if I need to see a psychologist.

Fact: Seek­ing help for a prob­lem shows signs of both brav­ery and resource­ful­ness. Think about a time in your life where you learned some­thing new, like rid­ing a bike for the first time or kick­ing your first soc­cer ball. You have to con­tin­u­al­ly prac­tice to strength­en your abil­i­ties. If you were to fall or break a leg, you would­n’t have sec­ond thoughts about head­ing to the Emer­gency Room. Remem­ber, men­tal health issues involve how you are think­ing, feel­ing, and behav­ing. When you break down all of these com­po­nents, your brain has a very strong role to play.

Myth: Ther­a­py is unnec­es­sary when I can just talk to good friends or family.

Fact: While sup­port from fam­i­ly and friends is great, remem­ber they are not your men­tal health pro­fes­sion­als. A psy­chol­o­gist is an out­sider in your life who is not meant to replace friend­ships. Like your med­ical pro­fes­sion­als, psy­chol­o­gists are high­ly-trained, and have spent years learn­ing and prac­tic­ing how to diag­nose and treat cog­ni­tive, emo­tion­al and behav­ioral issues. Unlike shar­ing with friends or fam­i­ly mem­bers, you are able to say any­thing to your ther­a­pist with­out fear of offend­ing or hurt­ing oth­ers feelings.

Myth: Ther­a­py is too expensive.

Fact: Cost pro­hibits many peo­ple from seek­ing ther­a­py. An expert in Cal­i­for­nia, Ryan Howes, Ph.D. says, Ther­a­py prices range from free in some com­mu­ni­ty clin­ics to almost- lawyer hourly rates in the nation’s top pri­vate prac­tices.” You may look for a clin­ic set­ting which offers a slid­ing fee based on your income. It’s help­ful to put things in per­spec­tive. If you con­sid­er the gains you could make with an invest­ment in your men­tal health, it makes sense to invest in work­ing on the areas of your life that are pre­vent­ing you from liv­ing a full and sat­is­fied life at the top of your potential.

Myth: A ther­a­pist can only help if they’ve expe­ri­enced the same thing as me.

Fact: Many times peo­ple believe if some­one has­n’t lived through what they are expe­ri­enc­ing, they won’t be able to under­stand or help solve their prob­lem. The truth is no one can feel exact­ly what you do. This is what makes each per­son so indi­vid­ual. Under­stand­ing some­one does not mean you need to share the same diag­no­sis. Clin­i­cal psy­chol­o­gists have edu­ca­tion, train­ing and expe­ri­ence to under­stand and treat prob­lems. If an expe­ri­enced clin­i­cian knows they are unable to best address your con­cerns, they cer­tain­ly can offer to refer you to some­one bet­ter suited.

Myth: I should be able to fix things on my own. I was raised to be independent.

Fact: Many times peo­ple equate not being able to fix their own prob­lems as fail­ing.” A psy­chol­o­gist can help you rec­og­nize what is bio­chem­i­cal or behav­ioral that may be respon­si­ble for the dif­fi­cul­ties you are fac­ing. When you have a prob­lem, seek an expert’s advice.

Myth: Psy­chol­o­gists just lis­ten to peo­ple vent-why would I pay some­one to do that?

Fact: A psy­chol­o­gist is there to lis­ten and work at under­stand­ing where you are strug­gling in life. The role of your psy­chol­o­gist goes well beyond this point. At the onset of treat­ment, a psy­chol­o­gist will ask many ques­tions in an effort to under­stand your back­ground and cir­cum­stances which have led to the prob­lem areas as you see and feel them. Then you will work col­lab­o­ra­tive­ly with your psy­chol­o­gist on treat­ment and goal devel­op­ment. Don’t be sur­prised if your psy­chol­o­gist assigns home­work because you need to learn new strate­gies. Home­work gives you an oppor­tu­ni­ty to try a new behav­ior or way of think­ing dif­fer­ent­ly. When fol­low­ing up with your psy­chol­o­gist, you can dis­cuss what helped or if you are still struggling.

Myth: If I begin ther­a­py, I will be stuck in it for the rest of my life!

Fact: Just like the fact each of us has a unique fin­ger­print. We can all agree that every­one is dif­fer­ent; like­wise, we all have vary­ing lev­els of strengths and dif­fi­cul­ties in life. Psy­chol­o­gists want to help you build on your strengths and min­i­mize your weak­ness­es to become a men­tal­ly healthy individual.

If you have any con­cerns regard­ing your men­tal health, please sched­ule an appoint­ment with your pri­ma­ry care provider or our behav­ioral and men­tal health ser­vices team.