There are a lot of misconceptions about therapy, many of which have been created by sources of media in the past and which are further engrained by the stigma surrounding mental health today. People will outwardly discuss their upcoming dentist appointment or doctor's appointment but are afraid to say that they have a therapist appointment. It is a major problem and a lot of it stems from the false things that have been publicized surrounding going to therapy. Therapy is not for "crazy" people and everyone can probably benefit from it.
1. Therapy is only for people with "serious" issues
People do not only go to therapy to deal with an intense mental health problem. People go to therapy to cope with life in general. Even those living what appears to be a perfect life can experience stress and worry and a whole other mix of emotions that they cannot deal with on their own. There's a reason that mental health professionals exist — they are trained to help people deal with not only past traumas and current mental health issues, but also simply figuring out who they are and what their place is in this world.
2. Therapists are all about the money
If therapists were only in it for the money, they would have chosen other careers that are much higher paying and less emotionally taxing. While therapists are meant to be objective listeners, another key part of their job is being empathetic and wholly understanding of their clients' emotions. Accessing that level of trust takes a toll and leaving work at the end of the day does not mean they leave everything they feel at work as well. Therapists genuinely care about their clients, even though getting paid is obviously the main transaction at hand.
3. Therapy is for lonely people who don't have friends
While good friends are incredible, they are not a substitute for therapy. While friends may more closely understand you as they are people you build intimate relationships with, therapists are highly trained professionals who are able to provide an objective stance on your life. And while there is nothing like going back and forth about each other's issues on a wine night, a therapy session is completely devoted to you and you alone. Therapists will also be straightforward with you (in most cases) whereas a friend might be afraid to tell you the truth for fear you will get angry at them, a therapist, being a removed third party, will not have this fear.
4. Therapy is too expensive
The idea of how much therapy may cost often keeps a lot of people from seeking mental health professionals, however, there is a wide range in fees. There are community clinics and college campuses which often have free services, there are the nation's top private practices that have almost-lawyer hourly rates, and a whole bunch in between. There are also some therapists who offer a sliding fee based on the client's income, and for some, health insurance may cover their therapy. It also must be thought of as making an investment in yourself — paying for therapy is by no means a waste of money, it is a way to ensure a happier, fuller life.
5. People who go to therapy are weak
The complete opposite is actually true — people who go to therapy are incredibly strong because they are ready to face their issues head-on and they want to get better. There is nothing wrong with asking for help when you need it — you wouldn't try to remove your own appendix, would you? The same goes for ailments of the brain. There are some things you cannot fix yourself and by recognizing that you are demonstrating just how strong of a person you are because you know your own weaknesses.
6. All therapists are the same
There are millions of therapists in the world and no two are exactly alike. While all licensed therapists are trained in similar ways, many have their own approach to treatment. Searching for a good therapist is like trying to pick out a college — you have to do your research on them, meet them and see if there is a connection, and make sure the price range is okay. If you go to one therapist a few times and find that you don't feel comfortable, you won't be offending them by switching to a different one.
7. Therapists will force people to take medication
No one can force you to take medication if that is not something you want to do. Your therapist may suggest medication, or with some mental illnesses, it can be very hard to treat someone in therapy without them being on medications. But that is a decision that you would talk through with your doctor and anyone else you feel should be involved in the process. By no means is taking medication a requirement for going to therapy.
8. If you take medication, then you can stop going to therapy
Medication without therapy is like getting an organ transplant and then not taking anti-rejection meds. The organ may be in your body, but it can't continue to function without a little help. The same goes for medication. Particularly if the reason you are taking medication has to do with an issue from your past, not acknowledging that issue in therapy will only make it hit you harder later on in life. Even if you are on a medication long term, you still should be monitoring yourself by going to a therapist of some sort on a semi-regular basis.
9. Therapy is passive
Despite what is often depicted in TV shows and movies, therapy consists of a lot more than laying down on a couch and talking at a therapist while they just "mhmm" you to death. More often than not, a therapist is a chance to get an unbiased, objective opinion on what is happening in your life. While they may not be completely aware of the situation you are in, they typically try their best to talk through things with you and help you come up with solutions to problems you may be having.
10. The therapist will tell my parents/guardian what I say
Doctor-patient confidentiality is in play when you go to therapy as long as you are over the age of 18. Even if your therapy is being funded by your parents, the therapist cannot tell them anything about what you say in session without your consent. There are typically only two exceptions to this confidentiality: (1) if you inform the therapist that you intend to harm yourself or (2) if you tell them you intend to harm someone else. In which case, they will do what is in your best interest at that time even if it requires them to breach confidentiality because your safety and well being are their priority.