Debunking the Myths About Therapy
Recently I wrote a post about therapy geared towards black men and I received a few comments as to why I only wrote it for men and not anyone else. I’m a supporter of EVERYONE seeking help but that post was specifically for black males, stemming from several conversations about men feeling weak or less of a man for seeking help. Since I already had this post about therapy myths in my drafts, I took that as a sign that I needed to go ahead and finish.
Nothing is seriously wrong, I don’t need therapy.
You don’t have to have gone through some major trauma or life event to seek help. Sometimes too many things are happening at once. Maybe you’ve had a major life change. Maybe out of the blue you’ve experienced depression or anxiety. Or you just want a no judgment zone to relax and vent. I remember going to one of my sessions and telling my therapist “I don’t know what to talk about today because I’m actually okay.” and she let me know that “nothing has to be wrong” we can just talk about your day, your goals, or life in general.
Therapy will make me look weak and feel crazy.
I really hate when I hear this. I promise you’ll feel weaker and crazier suppressing your problems for fear of how it will make you look. Keeping everything bottled in and coping with unhealthy mechanisms (drugs, food, alcohol, sex.. etc) will only make you feel worse. There’s nothing weak about seeking professional help with whatever may be going on. Talking to someone about your issues won’t get you a certified crazy stamp across your forehead.
They are just going to diagnose me and place me on meds.
Actually, in my experience therapist try everything BEFORE taking the medicine route. Now I can’t speak for certain diagnoses (bipolar, schizophrenia, etc), but a therapist will try to get to the root of your problems and figure out practical solutions before resorting to medication.
Talking to a complete stranger about my life is weird.
You actually might find that it’s easier to talk to someone who doesn’t know you, your family, or your friends, and has no bias towards any situation you may speak about. You’d be surprised how everything just blurts out like word vomit once you’re settled and comfortable. You’ll think you’ve only been talking for ten minutes when your therapist says “well that’s our time for today.”
All therapists are the same.
So you tried once and the therapist was terrible? He or she was too passive? Maybe they were kind of rude? Or their coping mechanisms might not have been the right fit for you? Try again. You don’t give up dating because you had one bad experience? You don’t stop trying on clothes because the last pair of pants didn’t fit, right? The same goes for a therapist. They are all different, they’ve been through different teachings and different practices and have different mindsets. This is when consultations come in handy to see how good of a fit someone might be for you. Don’t give up hope because of one not-so-great experience.
Therapy is way too expensive.
Yes, therapy can be a lot of money, especially if visiting someone with a private practice but there are several ways to cut the costs. You can go through your health insurance and see what the allotment is for mental health services and what therapists in your area accept your insurance. You can inquire with your company about their Employee Assistance Program (EAP) if one exists. This program will give you a certain amount of free therapy sessions (at no cost to you). My company offers three but every company is different. If you are a student or faculty member at a school, there are programs in place for free counseling with medical students who are obtaining their licenses. You can also opt for group sessions, those are usually less expensive than one-on-one sessions, or you can find a therapist or program that charges based on your income.
It will just make me feel worse.
Yes, your first session will be taxing, maybe even your first few sessions. You will purge. You'll cry. You will remember things you have long suppressed in the back of your mind. You will realize certain things you thought no longer affect you, still do. But it’s all apart of the healing process and eventually will be for the better. Sidebar story: my first session I remember thinking (in between big ugly cries) "what kind of therapist doesn't have tissues in their office", as I continued to cry in between talking. Once the session was over my therapist got up and walked to the other side of the room and I noticed a box of tissues sitting on her desk. I inquired about why she kept them there, away from the couch. She said "to prevent you from stopping the tears. You do enough of that outside of these walls. In here you release it. Let it go." Man. That really hit me and I was just like "oh."
I could go on for days about how beneficial therapy is and can be, but then you’d just stop reading at some point. You don’t have to attend therapy forever and you don’t have to broadcast to the world that you are seeking help. If you are someone who is considering therapy, I challenge you to stop contemplating and taking that first step.