Therapy can be an affirming and enriching process, but if you have never visited a mental health provider before, it might seem intimidating. There is sadly a lack of mental health knowledge and awareness in society and this contributes to a number of misconceptions about what therapy actually is and how it works.

Our providers share what they think are the most common myths about therapy.

MYTH #1: Therapy is a cure

“When you go through therapy you are somehow ‘cured’ and you no longer need to keep working on your well-being.”

It’s just NOT the case. Therapy can lead to better emotional, physical, and social wellness but it’s not a means to a cure. You can’t cure YOU…

Marlee Dorsey, LPCC | Acacia Minneapolis

MYTH #2: Needing therapy means you have character flaws

Those with mental health troubles such as depression/anxiety/relationship problems are due to character flaws and usually one can snap out of them if they try hard enough.

Those suffering from mental health issues are not due to being lazy, weak or not intellectually strong enough. There are multiple factors that contribute to mental health issues including: biological factors (genes, physical/medical issues, injury, etc.), life experiences (stress, abuse, trauma, etc.), and family history (depression, anxiety, alcoholism, substance abuse, etc.).”

Dr. Timothy Veal, MD | Acacia Reach & La Jolla

MYTH #3: Therapists don’t need therapy

“Therapists don’t feel anxiety or depression, they’d never need therapy.”

On the contrary, therapists, psychologists, and psychiatrists can feel – just like you – all emotions! Yes, they tend to be more equipped with tools from years of training and working with clients but that doesn’t mean they don’t feel the pressures of the world from time to time.

Inez Salcido-Kasteiner, LMFT | Acacia Reach

MYTH #4: You need to come to therapy with an agenda

“When you go to a therapy appointment, you have to have an ‘agenda’ or a concrete idea of what you want to ‘get done’. Without knowing what you’re going to talk about ahead of time, therapy is wasted.

It can be helpful to have an idea of what you want to say, but you are NOT required to have it all figured out before you step through the door! Often, the most interesting sessions are the ones where folx come in without knowing exactly what they want to process. This leaves the client and therapist room to explore, and interesting things always come up.”

Maddie Coulter, JD, MA | Acacia Minneapolis

MYTH #5: Mental illness looks abnormal

“If you dress well and act ‘normal’ and appear to have your life together then one can’t possibly be suffering from a mental illness.

Mental Illness is often not something one can see.  Mental illness operates on a spectrum and can have many different presentations and causes. Not everyone who is suffering from mental illness will have outward signs. It is certain that the people you meet every day are coping with mental health issues completely unknown to you.”

Dr. Timothy Veal, MD | Acacia Reach & La Jolla

MYTH #6 You only get one therapist

There are as many therapists as there are types of people! A therapeutic relationship is just that: a relationship. So it might take some trial and error before you find the therapist you “click” with. It’s appropriate (and encouraged) to try a few people before finding someone you really feel you can talk to.”

Maddie Coulter, JD, MA | Acacia Minneapolis

MYTH #7: Therapists just sit there silently

“I always thought therapists just sat there and didn’t say anything.”

Work is best done when there is a collaboration! At times they’ll be silent but it’s only because they are trying to piece together all that you are giving them.

Inez Salcido-Kasteiner, LMFT | Acacia Reach

MYTH #8: Your therapist is just a “paid friend”

“Therapists are like having a paid friend and we are only in it for the money.

I like to tell them that if I was in it for the money I would have picked a profession that cost less and paid way more! :)” Providers go into the work because they see a need, they can relate, and they want to help others!

Marlee Dorsey, LPCC | Reviving Roots Therapy & Wellness

MYTH #9: Needing therapy makes you weak

“Someone told me that their parent had said to them, ‘Going to therapy means you’re weak’.

As we processed this conversation they said, ‘If anything, I believe that going to therapy means I’m strong.’ I second that as going to therapy takes courage, strength, and a sense of vulnerability. You’re bringing in things in the room that may not only be uncomfortable to talk about, but you’re sharing these things with a person that you don’t really know. You’re seeking help because you want things to change for the better in your life, and seeking help itself may not be an easy thing to do. These are all signs of strength, not weakness.”

Juliet Tran, LMFT | Acacia Santa Cruz

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