Disclaimer: In this post I am sharing my own personal experiences- I am not a mental health professional. I am not attempting to diminish or discredit anyone else’s experiences or thoughts. I understand not everyone will agree with me and that’s ok! I’m always open to continuing the conversation in the comments, I just ask that you are respectful! 🙂
I don’t know about you guys, but I love getting to the bottom of myths- especially those surrounding mental health! About a month ago I took a poll on my Instagram and asked my followers if they wanted to mythbust therapy with me and the response was an astounding “YES” (if you want to take part in polls that influence what I write about don’t forget to follow me 🙂 )! The following are myths that I’ve personally heard in addition to those I’ve gathered from friends, family, and fellow bloggers. This is definitely not a comprehensive list of all the myths surrounding therapy- because goodness knows that post would take me years to write- but I’ve gathered some of the top myths, in my opinion, listed in no particular order. Now, let’s do some mythbusting!
Myth # 1: “Only weak people go to therapy”
When I was younger I used to think that I was weak for seeing a therapist because I couldn’t “figure things out on my own”, but I soon learned that I was the complete opposite of weak- I was strong. I was strong because I recognized that in order to be the best version of myself, I needed some guidance and an outlet to talk about what was going on in my life.
I can safely say that not only has therapy made me a stronger person, but it’s also made me a happier person. It’s such an interesting, relieving, and freeing experience to be able to work through and talk out what’s swirling around in your head.
Myth #2: “I don’t need to tell my therapist everything”
Sure, you probably don’t need to tell your therapist how your bowel movements are going, but mentioning a long-term boyfriend you had 4 years ago and the bullies you had in grade school all play a role in the who you are today!
I actually used to buy into this myth until after I told my therapist “oh you didn’t need to know that” and she immediately responded with, “Of course I did! Everything that happened in your past has made and molded you into who you are today, so the more I know, the better!” Woah, right?
Myth #3: “Therapy is only for those diagnosed with mental illnesses”
If this were true then I never would’ve started going to therapy in the first place.
I actually started going to therapy when I was in elementary school because of the bullying I was experiencing. That’s right folks- bullying. At that time, I hadn’t yet been diagnosed with any kind of mental illness- I started going to therapy because I was being bullied and needed to process what was going on. If this is a myth you buy into, let me be the first to tell you- you don’t have to have a diagnosed mental illness in order to start going to therapy.
Let me put this into perspective for you- if having a diagnosed mental illness was a requirement to go to therapy, I wouldn’t be writing this blog post right now.
Myth #4: “Therapy isn’t for me”
If I could send out a PSA to the world it would be this- therapy is for EVERYONE. That’s right, everyone.
Something I love about therapy is that it gives you an outlet to talk with someone who’s completely objective to your life. A therapist is able to hear you out and look at your experiences and thoughts as an outsider. Although I love talking to friends and family about whats going on in my life, sometimes those conversations don’t necessarily help me figure things out.
For example, if I’m talking to a friend about how someone made a mean comment towards me, they may say “I’m sorry, that person is the worst! I don’t like them!”. Although supportive, it’s not helping me figure things out. If I brought up that same situation in therapy, my therapist may reply with “why did it make you feel that way?” or other questions to help me get to the bottom of my feelings.
Myth #5: “I’m not sick enough to go to therapy”
I said this over and over again when I discovered I had an ED. Even though I had been to therapy for years before that point, for some reason, I thought I wasn’t bad enough off to go back and talk to someone.
If I had kept that thought in my mind, I never would have sought out help to begin the recovery process. Also, think back to when I was a little kid and started going to therapy. Do you think I was “sick enough” to go to therapy? No- I was going through something and I needed to process it.
When I think back to the beginning of my ED recovery, when I thought I wasn’t “sick” enough, I shake my head because I think about how much worse off I would be now if I hadn’t sought help when I did. Remember, there is no requirement to begin therapy. You can start anytime you want. You don’t have to be “sick” or “bad” enough. You can go whenever- no matter your circumstances.
Myth #6: “I should only go to therapy after a tragic or huge life event”
Although it’s very important to seek out professional help after a tragic or huge life event, you don’t have to wait until something like that happens to talk to someone.
I was listening to a podcast not too long ago where they were talking about seeking help and they said something that stuck with me- “you don’t have to wait to hit rock bottom in order to start seeking help”. You can start seeking out help anytime- not just after hitting rock bottom or experiencing a tragic event.
Myth #7: “I shouldn’t cry in therapy”
If this one was true, I wouldn’t be allowed in therapy. Fun fact: I cry pretty much every week in therapy and I’m not ashamed to admit it. I was once told by a therapist that crying shows you have an emotional connection and that, that specific emotion/story/feeling/experience really means something to you.
It’s also not to go without saying that if you’re not the crying type, that you need to cry- some people are cryers and some aren’t and that’s 100% ok.
Myth #8: “I can’t afford therapy”
I know that the cost of therapy is not cheap- trust me. But I also know that there are different ways to access mental health services for free or for a low cost. For example, if you’re a student (either in high school or college) you more than likely have a Social Worker or Therapist available to you at your school.
Like I mentioned before, my first interactions with therapy were in the school setting! Bonus- all the Therapists and Social Workers I’ve worked with in the school setting were always free.
But not to worry if you’re out of your schooling days and don’t have access to a school Social Worker or Therapist. There are other outlets and options for you to access affordable mental health services. I actually wrote a whole blog post about finding the right mental health professional, in which I address cost effective alternatives to the normal therapy setting-read it here!
Myth #9: “A therapist will solve all my problems”
Sorry to burst your bubble, but therapists aren’t magical wizards who wave their wands and *poof* suddenly all your problems are gone. You have to do work outside of therapy sessions.
Although going to therapy will help you better understand why you think the way you think and do the things you do, your therapist isn’t in your pocket at all times which means you’re going to have to conquer battles on your own. Your therapist will equip you with the sword, but you have to slay the dragon.
That’s all she wrote…
I could go on and on about the myths surrounding therapy, but we’ll stop there.
I want you to remember that you’re not alone in your fight- you don’t have to go through anything by yourself. I understand how scary it can be to reach out for help- but I can assure you that it’s so worth it. Overcoming and smashing myths in your own mind can be hard- I’ve been there. Don’t for a second doubt your strength and ability to persevere- you are a glorious, wonderful, and amazing human being with so much purpose and worth.
What myths have you heard about therapy? How have you busted the myths surrounding mental health in your life?
Have something you’d like me to write about? Let me know here!