About 1 in 5 adults in America seeks treatment for mental health problems in a given year. People seek mental health treatment for many reasons. It can be relationship or family problems, grief, anxiety, depression, anger problems, addictions, trauma, life transitions... While some of the mental health illnesses have a genetic component, others might be a result of stressful living conditions. Mental health illness is similar to a medical illness and seeking help and support from a medical provider or psychotherapist is a sign of a good judgment, motivation, and willing to improve your life.
Myth #2: Seeking therapy is a sign of weakness.
Some people believe that seeking therapy is a sign of weakness, when in fact this is the other way around. It requires a huge amount of courage and trust to admit to yourself that you have a problem and to request help. Most people are raised to be independent and to solve their problems on their own. While trying to find a solution yourself might be a good approach in some situations, rejecting help and treatment when you really need it might result in a loss of relationships and opportunities. When a problem becomes overwhelming for you or your loved ones this is the sign that you, your child, or family need additional help. It requires courage, persistence, and good deal of organizational skills to seek treatment and to stay in therapy long enough to get results.
Myth #3: Talking about my problems will make me feel worse.
Starting therapy can be anxiety provoking, but in order to learn how to control your emotions and how to release feelings associated with painful memories, you need to be able to be honest about your feelings and desires and learn how to experience them in a safe way. The role of a therapist is to guide you through the process, help you to learn coping skills and to make sure that you aren't too overwhelmed with the whole process. We can compare therapy with immunization - it might hurt in the beginning, but protects you from a serious harm in the future. Just take a medicine the dosage of the therapeutic interventions needs to be well measured to be effective.
Myth #4: Therapist will solve all my problems.
I am going to disappoint those people who believe that a therapist is like a wizard who can see and remove all obstacles on you way. The job of a therapist is to help clients to find their own answers and solution to their problem. Good therapist will help you to identify unhelpful thoughts and behaviors and to plan interventions that can improve your life, and tap into your own life wisdom.
Myth #5: You have to stay in the therapy for years to see results.
The length of a treatment depends on the nature and complexity of mental health problems. While some people choose to see a psychotherapist for a brief solution-focused interventions, others might need a longer treatment. A therapist will help you to develop therapeutic goals in the beginning of your therapy and will revise your goals with you through the course of the treatment. Therapy is often about changing old unhelpful habits and creating new ones. According to a recent study, it takes on average more then 60 days of practice to develop a new habit. Give you some time and be patient, but remember that you are in charge. You have the option to end therapy if you feel you are not making progress.
Myth #6: If you have a good friend you don't need a therapist.
Having a friend with whom you can talk and share your feelings is important for everyone, but therapy is very different from a friendly conversation. First of all, we invested in our relationships with friends and we often sensor what we say to them in order to protect their feeling. The goal of your therapist is your well-being. Licensed therapists received a rigorous training that allows them to choose most appropriate therapeutic interventions for a given problem. They know when and how to challenge you in a respectful way. Everything that you say in therapy is protected by the rules of confidentiality, and while your friends are not obligated to keep your secrets, all licensed psychotherapists and clinicians follow their professional confidentiality rules.
Myth #7: If you don't believe in therapy, it is not going to work.
While people tend to have more progress when they believe that they can change their life by seeing a professional therapist, the learning process doesn't stop when they remain skeptical. In fact being skeptical might be a form of resistance that is useful to discuss and address. In a family and couples therapy some family members might deny problems and question necessity of therapeutic intervention, but as long as they committed to relationships and follow the family’s request for a treatment, they can learn how to improve their life and social skills.
Lana Emelyanov is a licensed therapist and offers psychotherapy and counseling to all ages. Call today for a free 10 minute consultation. Tel: (978) 393-1770.
Serving Middlesex County and the greater Nashua area, including but not limited to Westford, Acton, Littleton, Groton, Ayer, Carlisle, Chelmsford, Tewksbury and Maynard.