If you’re basing your ideas of psychotherapy on what you’ve seen on TV or in the movies, you may have some misguided notions about what goes on in a therapist’s office. Most likely, your idea is wrong. Make sure you know the reality instead of the myths so you can benefit from all that psychotherapy has to offer. Below are six of the most common myths and misconceptions about psychotherapy, and a brief explanation of why they are indeed only myths.

Myth 1: Only crazy people go to psychotherapy

Wrong! Many established psychotherapists such as KlearMinds offer counselling to a broad range of individuals. People go to therapy for all sorts of reasons – to cope with anxiety, relationship issues, stress, grief, major life transitions, and managing other stressors that can affect just about any of us. Most people who see a psychotherapist are ordinary everyday people. Seeking help for your problems doesn’t mean you’re crazy. Thinking that you can handle everything in life by yourself – just might be. There’s no shame in wanting a better life.

Myth 2: Talking with a friend or family member is just as effective

After all, who needs a therapist when you can go out for a glass of wine with your best friend? While support from friends and family is important when you’re struggling, a qualified psychotherapist has years of specialized education, training and experience that make them experts in understanding and treating complex problems. Psychotherapists can recognize behaviour or thought patterns objectively, more so than those closest to you who may have stopped noticing — or maybe never noticed.

Also, with friends you’re more likely to censor yourself, either because you don’t want to hurt their feelings, or perhaps portray yourself in a bad light. However, with a therapist, you can be completely honest, as they will not pass judgment on you based on your history, and will always come from a neutral place.

Myth 3: Psychotherapy will take years

No, psychotherapy isn’t a never-ending session that will take over your life. Actually, the length of therapy depends upon a person’s goals, motivation, and the severity of the problems brought into counselling. There is no rule about how long any therapy should take, but there are various proven therapeutic interventions, which are short-term. Many people find 10-20 sessions sufficient, even for problems they have struggled with for years. A psychotherapist’s goal is not to keep a person as a client forever, but is invested in helping them meet their goals so they can successfully function independent of therapy. Change doesn’t have to take years.

Myth 4: Therapists will just keep talking about your childhood

This isn’t so. A psychotherapist may explore your childhood experiences because they can relate information from your background which can help the therapist understand your perceptions, feelings, current coping strategies, or see patterns which you may have developed. However, in some instances a psychotherapist will choose to focus mainly on the current problem that led you to seek treatment and not delve into your past at all. The point of wanting you to look backward is to better understand your present and make positive changes for the future

Myth 5: Therapy will cost a fortune

Not really. Price prohibits some people from seeking therapy, as it can get expensive. Nevertheless, there are private-practice therapists out there with a sliding scale of fees for people who truly need financial help to stay in therapy. Also, most communities have public agencies that provide mental health services for a reduced fee. For most people, it is a question of budgeting and prioritising.

Compare how much money you spend each year on things that help you feel good about your life superficially — such as cars, clothes, nice dinners, vacations and gifts — with the cost of working on your thoughts, feelings and behaviours in therapy. Think about what you could do if you reached your full potential and were able to overcome the obstacles holding you back.

Myth 6: People become psychotherapists to fix their own issues

That could not be farther from the actual truth. Nonetheless, most psychotherapists usually have a personal reason for picking it for their profession – whether it’s a deep curiosity about psychological issues, a passion for helping those in need, or a positive past experience with therapy. But whatever the initial reason, the ultimate goal is helping clients. If a therapist isn’t able to make a client’s progress their top priority, they probably won’t enjoy or succeed at being a therapist.

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