On my website, I share things that you should know about therapy, but that people don’t talk about.

Because there’s still a lot of stigma around therapy in general, it’s easy to fall into certain misconceptions about it.

To clear things up, we have to start an honest conversation about therapy. I’m here to illuminate what you can expect.

1: It’s Not Like on TV

There are certain common portrayals of therapy in popular media. Originally, therapy was never even shown. Now, TV and movies are getting better at portraying therapy — but they’re still very stereotypical portrayals.

Think about the most recent time you saw a character visit a therapist. Most likely, they treated it like some mystical experience, asking about dreams and saying “how does that make you feel?” over and over. Maybe the character comes out healed and happy after one session. Therapy in real life is different. It’s hard work, dealing with concrete issues and emotions. But it’s also meaningful and personalized in a way TV portrayals aren’t. 

2: You Won’t Feel Better Immediately

Therapy isn’t something that transforms your life instantly. It’s a process, and you might feel worse before you start to feel better. This is normal, because you’re confronting many hard things about your life. Therapy’s about constructing new habits over time, so it’s not going to be an instant switch.

3: You Have to Want to Change

Has someone ever forced you to go to therapy? Where you dragged your feet but finally went along with it, and then you complained in your head the whole time?

The thing about change, is that we have to want it for it to work.

If you’re going to therapy halfheartedly, not because you want it but because of some other reason, you probably won’t get much out of it. Therapy’s all about inviting change and being open to improving your life. We’ll help you get there, but we can’t do that unless you let us give that help.

What are some misconceptions you’ve had about therapy?

By Courtland McPherson, MSW, LCSW (Regular Guest Blogger)