As a counselling psychologist-in-training, I work each day towards reducing the stigma around seeking help for one’s mental health. In the process, I come across many misconceptions that people have about therapy. So here is a list I wrote of some things I feel no one ever tells you about therapy. I hope this clears some fog around the domain.
1. You shouldn’t feel guilty about talking about yourself
Yes, we live in a collectivistic culture where ‘we’ comes before ‘me’. We are told to not take up too much space and always keep the focus on others as much as possible. But when you seek the services of a counsellor, you specifically pay them so that you can talk about you. They are trained for years so that they can actually listen to you and help you become better at certain aspects of your life. So can we bid goodbye to that guilt, gradually?
2. You need not hit rock bottom before you decide to take therapy
This is something I keep telling those around me all the time. When you know that someone out there can help you navigate through rough waters, why do you wish to hit rock bottom and then only reach out to them? Why be so harsh on yourself?
3. Taking therapy does not mean that you are dependent on others to solve your problems
A true therapist’s job is not to offer you advice or solutions. If they do that then they are not doing their job right. We are trained to help you become independent, to empower you in such a way that you can help yourself better. And to be honest, no one wants or can sustain a client for life because then you aren’t doing it right.
4. Finding the right therapist can take some time
It’s very important to understand that finding the right therapist is like finding the right pair of shoes, it takes time. You can try a couple of them before deciding on one. Please do not settle. If you are going to trust someone with the deepest of your feelings and thoughts, make sure it is someone you actually trust.
5. And once you do find the right therapist, it takes some time to connect
You are as new for your therapist and he/she is for you. While you are getting adjusted to them, they are too. This process will take at least a few sessions before you get comfortable with your therapist.
6. Therapy is not a magical fix
Therapy is a lot of hard work, put forth by both your therapist and you. It’s a lot of talking, listening, processing and doing homework. It takes commitment, hard work and sincerity to keep the therapeutic relationship going. No therapist can help you till the time you are willing to inculcate these qualities in your life, till the time you are ready to help yourself.
In the next part of this series, I’ll be debunking a few more myths and spreading a little more awareness about therapy. Stay tuned!