Photo by: Various sites
Who has considered at some point in their life to seek out psychotherapy treatment? OK, who is able to admit that they sought out these services? Interestingly, in the year 2012, there is still stigma around seeking out counseling services for fear that doing so makes you "crazy." This couldn't be further from the truth. Psychotherapy has a wealth of benefits that are scientifically validated, or as some of my clients like to say, "It just makes me feel better."
You might be surprised to learn about who might benefit from therapy. Most everyone. And not just for severe disorders (yes, those can be treated too) but for everyday kinds of issues like stress, life transitions, or changing behavior patterns. So myth #1 is busted: therapy is not just for crazy people.
Onto another myth about psychotherapy: therapy is like paying for a friend. While it can seem that the clinician you are working with is a friend that you pay to talk to, this can't more different than the actual role of the mental health professional. Typically, clinicians undergo a minimum of two years of post-bachelors training (a Masters degree in counseling or social work or a doctorate in clinical psychology). They are trained to not just hear, but to listen and query. Psychologists have education in research and training to help discern behavior patterns that might be getting in your way. Additionally, psychologists and other mental health professionals use empirically validated methods as their therapy tools in order to help you feel better.
Myth number 3: Therapy takes years. This is just untrue. Depending on what you are entering therapy for and what your goals are, therapy can take as few as 6 sessions, and symptom relief should be noticeable by the 12th. If it isn't, this is an area to talk to your provider about. Finding the right clinician is all about "fit"--or your gut reaction. Most clinicians are trained, and if they are not versed in what you are seeking assistance for, they will provide you with a more appropriate referral.
Myth number 4: Therapy is too expensive. Most health insurance plans cover psychotherapy as both an in-network benefit or an out-of-network benefit. If you are unable to find a practitioner that is in-network, your plan must cover the cost of an out-of-network one that is an expert in the area you need assistance. Additionally, most plans will reimburse you partially for expenses incurred in therapy. FLEX spending and Health Savings Plans also are ways to pay for therapy. But the biggest consideration is what does it cost you to NOT be in therapy? How might it impact your relationships and employment?
Myth number 5: If I'm in therapy, I'll only be allowed to talk about my mother or my childhood. This is a common misconception that can be seen perpetuated through movies. No, you don't have to go into your childhood, although that can serve as a helpful context in some types of therapy. There are other types of therapy where one's past is never even spoken about. (Cognitive Behavior Therapy)
It is my hope that I've "busted" some myths and misperceptions about psychothearpy. There are several places where you can go to find a licensed professional in your area.
American Psychological Association: http://locator.apa.org/index.cfm?event=search.text
National Association of Social Workers: http://www.helpstartshere.org/find-a-social-worker
American Counseling Association: http://www.counseling.org/Resources/CounselorDirectory/TP/Home/CT2.aspx