This is Episode 1 of the podcast – Get Psyched with Ayan.
Mental health issues have reached epidemic proportions in our society these days and yet there is so much stigma around seeing a therapist. Many people believe in one or more of these 5 popular myths about therapy and that might be preventing them from reaching out for help and hence diminishing their quality of life. It’s time we did some myth busting…
Seeing a therapist means that I am weak, damaged or crazy.
This is a big one and there is a lot of stigma around psychotherapy and counselling. It is a perspective that has been popularized by Hollywood and mainstream media that you need to be in deep shit, that you have to hit rock bottom, before you go in for therapy.
Think about this for a minute – say you are having a stomach ache for a couple of days and it won’t go away and you have tried everything from your medicine cabinet. Will you now go to your family doctor or wait till it gets much worse before seeking help?
If we find it relatively easy to seek help for our bodies, then why not our minds and our emotional body? Why this double standard? Being proactive about mental health and improving your attitude towards life through some counselling will help you tremendously when go through a difficult patch in your life.
Therapy is like talking to a close friend
I get this all the time. And to those people who say this, I tell them, that it’s great that you have a close friend with whom who can talk about your issues. It is really important to have a support system in your life. But what happens if you want to talk about issues you are having with this friend, what about your fears of being judged by this friend, your fears of taking too much space in the friendship and burdening them with your problems?
Often when we are with our friends, we are eager to share our opinions, rather than to listen. Your friend would want to talk about themselves too and how much time do you get for yourself? Is your friend trained to guide you through a challenging life situation or support you when you burst into tears or when you are having a panic attack or a nervous breakdown? The answer is mostly a NO. Also if I am your therapist, I don’t know your partner, your friends and I will not be gossiping about you with them. That’s confidentiality, which you might not receive from a friend.
Therapy is too expensive and not worth the money
When I hear this I ask the person, how much did you spend for your bachelor’s or master’s degree to learn a new trade? 20k, 50k, 100k? And how much are you willing to spend on knowing yourself? What is the worth you place on working through your issues with someone’s expert guidance and learning skills that will stay with you for the rest of your life? Everyone places a different value on such things and it is up to you to find an answer to that question. Yes, I understand that therapy can be expensive, especially if you have to pay out of pocket, but can you consider it to be an investment into yourself, to improve your life prospects, similar to taking a course to improve your career prospects? Think about it.
I have worked with a therapist before and talking about my issues doesn’t work for me, as I already know everything about my problems.
When I hear this comment, I actually feel happy about the situation. To me this means that the person has developed enough self-awareness, regarding their issues and is ready to go to the next level. Yes, there are a lot of counsellors who do not go beyond talk therapy and in my opinion that is unfortunate.
But there are psychotherapists out there, like myself, who love to go above and beyond talk therapy. For example, I use many techniques and modalities to connect with the client’s subconscious state or her innate body intelligence and bring about deeper transformation that cannot be easily achieved through talk-only therapy. There are numerous techniques for this, such as hypnosis, EMDR Therapy, Gestalt exercises, body psychotherapy, etc. Do your research and look for holistic and alternative psychotherapies.
Therapy is all about digging up a client’s childhood and mommy issues.
I would like to clarify this point about when it is helpful to look at the past. For example, I will start with the presenting issue and only if needed, I will delve deeper into the underlying core beliefs that the client has about himself that is affecting the situation and making it worse. As a therapist, I don’t go digging around your past or your mommy issues just for fun. It needs to tie back to your present day situation.
For example, if my client is freezing up and having a panic attack at the thought of giving a presentation at work, then I may ask as to when you first felt this feeling. The client may bring up a memory of how he forgot his lines at a school play when he was 10 years old and how he felt utterly embarrassed. We could then use some reprocessing techniques to change how that memory affects his self-confidence. Often, once that memory has been reprocessed, the client experiences a new surge of self-confidence and then we can work on strategies that would reduce his anxiety at the presentation. So it’s always about the present and the past it brought in only when it’s affecting the present.
And those are 5 popular myths about therapy that can prevent us, as individuals and as a society from reaching out for help. Reach out to me if you have any questions or want to give holistic psychotherapy a try.