Counseling Myths Debunked
Even before I was a therapist there were things that I thought I knew about therapy. Turns out, some of them were true and some of them were not. One of my favorite things to do is to answer questions relating to the myths surrounding having a therapist or going to therapy. People who have never been to therapy love to talk about it as if they are experts. I am not sure why that is. I am sure it is something to do with an insecurity. Anyway, I want to talk about two myths. The first one is having to do with length of therapy and the other has to do with the type of work done in therapy.
Once in Therapy, Always in Therapy
Long before I was a therapist I would hear about how therapists just wanted your money and they wanted you to come in for the rest of your life. Once you started going they made it so that you could never quit. Now that I am a therapist I know how silly that is. Frankly, I don't know of any practitioner that would want to see the same clients over their 20 or 30 year career. That doesn't sound fun at all. Aside from some severe mental illness where maintenance sessions every few months or so is needed, you don't see a therapist for the rest of your life. Whoever you are seeing should begin to structure an outline of how the process should go for you and then show you where you are in that process. Every therapist is different and some, like me, can let that outline develop slowly unless I know it needs to be brief. I think that people need to be very comfortable in my office so slower is better sometimes. Throwing them into the hard work quickly can be terrifying.
For the most part, the job of any therapist is to help you become self reliant not reliant on them. This means that you should start to feel like you could live life and function in a healthy way without your therapist the more you go to see them, not the other way around. If you find yourself stuck or you feel like you aren't working on being more self reliant then talk to them about it. They need to know those things.
Tell me about your Past
One thing I hear most frequently about the therapeutic relationship that is incorrect is the fact that all therapists want to do is talk about your past. I will preface the things I am about to say with this, there are a bunch of different ways to practice psychotherapy and some of those ways do deal with the past which has clients go back in the past more then others. For the most part, therapist agree that the only time we need to rummage around in the closets of the past is when something in the past is affecting your decision making today. Otherwise, it should be all about today and how tomorrow can be better. It seems like here recently there must have been some training for life coaches that told them therapist work in the past so we tell clients we work in future. I have to admit, I became very mad when I first heard that. It was just a lie and plus life coaches need more accountability in my opinion.
Therapist do not rummage around in the closets of your past and if they do, they are doing it because they need to figure out why you are being affected today by something that happened years ago. Don't let people convince you that therapy is not for you because of these reasons or any others. If you think you would benefit from a therapeutic relationship then please reach out to a therapist and see how it might help you.
Chris Depew is a therapist and operates a private counseling practice in Huntsville Alabama and he focuses on personality disorders, addictions, and divorce care but helps anyone find peace in the middle of troubled times.