Often, people have the misconception that psychotherapy is for those with severe mental illness or other debilitating problems. “Why go to a therapist when I have good friends?” they wonder. Or they say to themselves, “I should be able to handle my own issues.” In actual fact, good psychotherapists are individuals with a great deal of training and experience who can help us work through the life issues that can overwhelm us. We don’t have to have a diagnosable mental illness to benefit from seeing a psychotherapist. The death of a spouse or the diagnosis of a major illness are examples of life experiences from which any of us could benefit from the services of a psychotherapist.
The Huffington Post recently ran an article by Danielle Adinolfi, MFT, on some of the misconceptions commonly associated with psychotherapy. Some of these are:
- Only crazy people go to therapy.
- Once you start therapy, you are in for life.
- I should manage my own issues.
- Therapy will make you feel shamed and blamed.
- Therapy is like having a paid best friend – so why pay?
- Digging up the past won’t be helpful.
Though these are common concerns for those who have not been to a psychotherapist in the past, they are simply falsehoods.
In truth, seeing a psychotherapist for a relational or psychological issue is a lot like seeing a medical doctor for a physical problem. If you see signs of an issue developing, it’s smart to get right in to see the professional. The longer you wait, the more likely it is that the problem will take hold and become much more resistant to treatment. In other words, don’t wait until you have a full-blown case of pneumonia to go to the doctor, go at the first signs of trouble. The same is true of psychotherapy. Don’t wait until your marriage is in a shambles or you’re overcome by depression; see an experienced, well-qualified psychotherapist at the first signs of strife. You will be glad you did.