I was inspired by Therese Borchard’s post today, “9 Rules for Survivng Therapy” to include some common misconceptions that I have encountered regarding therapy.

  1. Therapy is good for everyone:  Although Socrates said, “The unexamined life is not worth living”, it doesn’t follow that every person is ready to go through therapy at any given time.  Issues with psychological or internal resistance can be uncomfortable at best, and requires that the individual be stable and secure enough in one’s ego to tolerate such conflict.
  2. All therapy is the same:  There are many different types and styles of therapy (psychoanalysis, psychodynamic, Gestalt, Interpersonal, Cognitive Behavioral, Supportive). Most therapist practice a few different types of therapy, but generally have one therapeutic approach that is their primary focus. Not all therapists and therapies may be the right fit for all patients.
  3. My therapist is my friend:  This is a difficult one for many people. The therapeutic relationship is by nature supportive, non-judgement, and personal.  While the therapeutic relationship may feel “friendly” it is a one-sided relationship (whereas friendships are inherently two-sided).  Excepting certain revelations for specific therapeutic intent, the therapist doesn’t reveal much to the patient. This allows for therapeutic process of “transference” to occur (where the patient projects their own ideas and feelings about other people onto the therapist).
  4. Therapy should feel good:  Another common misconception is that therapy should leave the patient “feeling good” after each session, much the way a visit to a “spa” would feel.  The reality is that, while most individuals eventually feel better, therapy is hard work.  Most people will feel worse, perhaps disheartened, as issues are brought up and discussed; but eventually may feel relief as issues are resolved.
  5. Therapy should be easy:  While therapy may seem simple, it is very hard work and can emotionally draining.  It takes a great deal of courage for any person to face their “demons” and come to terms with the things in their life that may be keeping them “stuck”.
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