Many people would like to try psychotherapy and could benefit from it. Yet, they may have heard certain things about psychotherapy which left them confused or hesitant.
It is natural to have anxieties about something we don’t have accurate information on.
Understanding what psychotherapy is and clarifying some of the myths that surround it, could help you make an informed decision about it!
Psychotherapy is a process in which the relationship formed between you and your counsellor helps you develop more awareness and understanding of yourself. Psychotherapy is not a one-way process. It is, in fact, a dynamic two-way process with a therapist who listens, understands and tries to work with you to help you reach the goal that you choose for yourself.
Some of the common myths about psychotherapy:
1. Will the psychotherapist draw out my deep dark secrets?
The therapist will only know what you choose to share with him / her. You decide what you want to share, as and when, you feel comfortable with your counsellor.
2. Will I be judged based on what I share about myself?
No. One of the foundations of psychotherapy is to not judge a person. Therefore a counsellor will accept you unconditionally and seek to understand what you are experiencing, from your point of view.
3. How will talking to a counsellor who doesn’t know me, help me?
Not knowing you personally allows the therapist to be neutral, objective and non-judgmental of you. A friend or a family member would often have their own opinions or suggestions of what might be right for you, which may sometimes be helpful. However, when you wish to arrive at your own answers, speaking to a counsellor helps you get an unbiased and deeper understanding of yourself and your situation. Over time, your therapist and you will form an accepting yet professional relationship, one in which you feel comfortable to be yourself.
4. The psychotherapist should give me a solution to my problem.
This is a common misconception about the purpose of psychotherapy. Every person and life situation is unique and needs to be understood. Ready-made solutions will not help in the long run. Therefore, therapists do not give advice. Instead the therapeutic relationship helps you gain useful insight and understanding of yourself and your situation, which enables you make your own decisions. You and your therapist work together, to help you come to your own solutions.
5. Counselling is only meant for ‘crazy’ people who can’t cope with their problems. Why should I go?
Fortunately changing, but it is still a common belief that only those who have serious psychological problems go to a psychotherapist. It is not the case.
Most people seek counselling for everyday issues like relationship problems, stress, and symptoms of depression. Psychotherapy is not just a crisis-oriented service which you seek only when there is a problem. In reality, it is a safe space to pay attention to your thoughts and feelings and understand yourself and your situation better. Attending counselling when problems are mild to moderate can prevent problems from becoming severe. Most people at some point in time will go through periods of depression, hurt or feeling worried it is beneficial to seek support at these times. Most people who go to therapists are ordinary everyday people.
6. Psychotherapy will change who I am.
Not unless you choose to change certain aspects of yourself, based on what is helpful to you. Again, the decision to make any changes is in your hands entirely and not the therapist’s. Change in psychotherapy has primarily to do with perception and understanding of yourself and your inner world.