Myths of Therapy

Decide which of the following statements are true and which are false:

True __ False __ You must be mentally ill to go to therapy. 
True __ False __ The therapist can read your mind. 
True __ False __ The therapist knows all of the answers. 
True __ False __ The therapist does most of the work. 
True __ False __ Therapy will solve all of your problems. 
True __ False __ Therapy will always work. 
True __ False __ Therapy will for force you to change.

The answer to all of the above questions is false.

Many people go to therapy after everything else they've tried has failed. Therapy is used as a last resort when the advice of family and friends and self-help books haven't produced the desired results. To some, asking for professional help is a sign of weakness. "Everyone has the same kinds of problems, and mostly the same situations, so what's wrong with me that I need professional help?" We sometimes think if we go into therapy we are not as good as, or an normal as, everyone else.

There's a pervasive underlying feeling that it's wrong to ask for professional help with mental, emotional, or spiritual problems. We are supposed to know how to handle most situations, unless we're really sick and then a pill should take care of it. It's only okay to ask for therapy for a little while; once we are over the shock we should know what to do. Or, maybe if we leave the issue alone, it will go away or be worked out, and we won't have to do anything. The body is supposed to heal itself. Isn't that right? What do you believe about therapy?

How did you answer the questions? Did you answer true to any of these statements? If you answered false to every statement, your beliefs about therapy are accurate. Each of the true-false statements is a myth.

Therapy is a personalized, interactive relationship between the therapist and the client, and designed to help clients examine their ideas about themselves and their lives. Therapy requires some commitment to the process and may involve the individual, the family or a group.

The therapist is educated in basic human behavior and the dynamics of thoughts, actions and behaviors and how these can affect the community. Therapists explore theories about communication, family dynamics, self-development, ethics and, which systems are integrated into a comprehensive plan of study involving actual therapy practice with clients. In order to maintain and improve competence, most therapists continue to receive ongoing supervision after they receive an advanced degree in counseling.

You have no doubt heard many terms to describe therapy such as behavior modification, group therapy, play therapy, music therapy, art therapy, transactional analysis, psychotherapy, family therapy, etc. Therapy terms are usually related to the theory, method, or techniques espoused by the therapist, or the medium and used to work towards an end, or goal.

The therapist works with you to help you achieve what you decide you want to achieve. The process involves introspection and hard work on your part. It's not easy to "look" at yourself or your life, and think about how and what you want changed. The therapist is the guide, not the pathfinder. You are your own pathfinder.