Recently I was speaking with a friend who agreed that she could probably benefit from seeing a therapist. She told me how she has been struggling in her relationship with her mother, especially after having a baby last year. I asked her why she hasn’t been in to see a therapist yet and she rattled off several reasons: too much money, not enough time, too many responsibilities. The list went on and on. It occurred to me that many people have very good reasons for not coming to therapy and some of these may include common myths that aren’t easily dispelled simply because we don’t always talk about our mental health with friends and family. I really hate to see misinformation keep people from getting the help they need so here are some common myths I’d love to talk about.
It’s true that therapy is not cheap. A licensed therapist (LPC, LMFT) starts at $120 in the Denver Metro area. Some therapists take insurance which will knock down your fee to your specialist copayment. Other therapists don’t accept insurance for various reasons (i.e. reimbursement takes too long, a lot of paperwork, requirements for diagnosis, etc.). Either way, my thought is “can you afford not to go to therapy?” A gym membership these days costs around $200 and that doesn’t include the fancy yoga tights, shoes, and other gear. We pay a pretty penny to keep our bodies in shape and our cholesterol low but we often don’t see our mental health in the same light. Studies have shown that feelings like loneliness, anxiety, sadness, grief, and anger have a direct effect on our health and wellness.
While I can confidently say that this is definitely not true, I can also admit that couples do sometimes divorce or break up during couple therapy. Sadly, this is often because some couples wait until it is too late to save the relationship. Sometimes, one partner will ask for a divorce and the other partner will panic and offer couple therapy as a last ditch effort. This often does not have the intended outcome because the partner has already emotionally left the relationship. When couples come to us before it is too late, we can often help strengthen the relationship and help repair the bond after affairs, addiction, and illnesses.
Therapy is a vulnerable experience where you share some of your deepest darkest thoughts, fears, and dreams. Brene’ Brown, author of Daring Greatly, says “Vulnerability sounds like truth and feels like courage. Truth and courage aren’t always comfortable, but they are never weakness.” Asking a professional for help, just as you would do with your primary care physician, is a strength and not a weakness. Also, there are large numbers of people who have experienced any mental illness. These folks are your neighbors, coworkers, family members, and maybe even you. “In 2014, there were an estimated 43.6 million adults aged 18 or older in the United States with AMI (Any Mental Illness) in the past year. This number represented 18.1% of all U.S. adults.” National Insitute of Mental Health (http://www.nimh.nih.gov/)
This one really hits home for me. I come from a tight knit family and believed for a long time that I should be able to go to my parents for advice and wisdom. It’s true that they do have a lot of advice and wisdom to share with me that I’ll never be able to find anywhere else. However, it is just that, advice and wisdom. Therapists don’t specialize in advice and wisdom. In some rare circumstances we may share those things with our clients but we generally make it a rule not to. If I give you my advice and you don’t take it, I’m frustrated. If I give you my advice and you take it and things go wrong, I’m to blame. As therapists, we are equipped to help our clients look within themselves and examine their beliefs and values in an effort to become unstuck. Having an outside perspective on our issues can shed some new light on the same problems.
There are a lot of different types of therapy and a lot of different therapists implementing their style of a particular therapy, therefore, each therapist is very different. Simply put, your previous therapist may not have been a good match for you. Even some of the best therapists will find that they may not be a good match for some people. It’s incredibly important to find someone who is a good fit for you. This may mean reading many different profiles on therapist search engines like Psychology Today and Network Therapy or even meeting with several different therapists until you find the right one. Many therapists offer free phone or in person consultations to help you find the right therapist without spending a lot of money.
I hope that I was able to address some concerns you might have about counseling. If you are interested in scheduling a free consultation in person or over the phone give me a call at (720) 577-5994.