Friday, June 10, 2011

Common Myths that Fuel Therapy Avoidance

Some people avoid seeking psychotherapy because of myths or half-truths they believe. Here are a few common myths that keep people from seeking help:

Myth #1: Only really "crazy" people seek psychotherapy.
Fact: It is true that people with serious mental illnesses like Major Depressive Disorder or Bipolar Disorder need therapy. However, more people seek therapy for the sadness, worry, and/or agitation triggered by common stressors.

Myth #2: I should be able to solve my problems on my own.
Fact: This myth is especially favored by men, but some women also feel like seeking therapy means admitting defeat. The fact is, most people come to a point sooner or later when their toolbox could use some new tools. There is no shame in this.

Myth #3: My problems are not that important because other people have much worse problems.
Fact: If your problems are important to you, they are important period. You are as valuable as anyone else. 

Myth #4: It's not me that needs psychotherapy, it's my brother/ spouse/ mother/ child.
Fact: Even if your loved one does need help, you too may need therapy if you find yourself consumed by worry, sadness or irritation because of the person in question.

Myth #5: My problem will go away on its own. 
Fact: This may be true. Some problems do resolve naturally in time. Others fester until they are properly addressed.  

Myth #6: My problem is too embarrassing to tell anyone about.
Fact: While you may be embarrassed to talk about your problem, it is unlikely your therapist will be uncomfortable. Part of a therapist's job is to help people feel comfortable talking about difficult, personal issues. 

Do I Need Therapy?

Deciding whether or not to start psychotherapy can be tricky. Some questions to ask yourself right off the bat are: 1) What is likely to happen if I do not seek help?
2) What's the worst thing that could happen if I do seek help?

Let me give you a few common reasons why people come in to my office:

  • Some people are in a strained relationship with a spouse, a parent, a child, or a friend. 
  • Some people experience sadness, anxiety, or anger that does not go away.
  • Some people are grieving the loss of a loved one due to death or divorce. 
  • Some parents seek counseling for a teen who is moody, explosive, withdrawn, or even suicidal.
  • Some young mothers experience sadness or fear that interferes with their ability to fully take joy in their little one. 
  • Some people need help with a previously diagnosed mental illness such as Bipolar Disorder, Major Depressive Disorder, or an Anxiety Disorder. 
  • Some people are addicted to alcohol or drugs.
  • Some people struggle with how to relate to a loved one who has an addiction, a serious mental illness, or a significant physical condition. 
  • Some adults & teens are distressed about the fact they may be lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender. Others have positively identified as LGBTQ and are trying to cope with the potential or actual negative responses of family members and friends. 

I offer you this list because maybe you will recognize yourself. People seek psychotherapy for many, many reasons. Life may get better without the help of psychotherapy. But why not invite a professional  to coach you on how to lighten the burden you are carrying?