If finally going to therapy has made it onto your New Year's Resolutions, but you have some questions about the process, we are here to help. We've compiled some common myths about the whole process of therapy, psychotherapy, and counseling. We began sharing them in our last blog post, focused on the first therapy session. (To read it, CLICK HERE.)
But there is more ground to cover, so we'll pick back up here with more general myths. We then share with your our perspective at the Phoenix Counseling Collective. We hope this clears up some more misconceptions and helps you feel more comfortable about coming to therapy.
Myth #1 - Therapy is a quick fix.
We want to be clear: Therapy is NOT a quick fix. Hopefully you've gleaned this understanding from the last blog post (if you haven't read it yet, you should really CLICK HERE.) Let's say you are 38 years old. That means it took 38 years to create the patterns and ways of responding to the world that you use. It may take a bit longer than 3 sessions to begin to unpack your tried and true methods of dealing with the world. It takes time to learn and create new ways to experience and react to events and relationships.
You are re-wiring circuits in your body and your brain. It takes practice and time.
You'd give yourself more than 3 lessons to learn to play the violin, right? Well learning how to change your way of living is at least as difficult as learning to play an instrument.
Myth #2 - I will learn a formula to live a better life.
People are more complex than computers. We can't just rewrite the coding to work more efficiently. We are humans, with stories, emotions, hopes, dreams, regrets, losses, joys, and traumas. We are learning to relate to ourselves, others, and the world around us. The purpose of therapy is first, to become connected with ourselves. Then, to live out the integration of ourselves in our environment. It is often a misconception that there is something wrong with us when we behave in ways we don't want to. It can feel as though if we could change the formula, we'd fix the problem. But our maladaptive behaviors and reactions to the world are actually attempts to avoid or smooth over relationships.
The problem isn't the formula. It's that we're trying to use a formula to relate to people.
Relationships and intimacy can be terrifying. By learning and growing in your ability to relate to self, others, and the world, these maladaptive behaviors and reactions fade away.
Myth #3- Your therapist will be cold and “clinical.”
Therapists have the most curious job in the world. You can tell us stories, sorrows, longings, fears, etc. that you have not told even your closest friends, family, or partner. Even early on in the therapeutic relationship, the therapist is privy to the deep inner workings of beautiful souls. We find it an honor to walk alongside brave men and women who want to live deeper, more authentic experiences of life.
At the Phoenix Counseling Collective we are therapists who deeply care about the well-being of our clients.
That's hardly detached. Some people assume that "professionals" will judge them, or assume that they are broken. Please understand this: you are NOT sitting across from someone who is perfect and has everything figured out. A therapist is human and imperfect, and is not surprised to hear what you have to share. We’ve heard it before, or likely experienced it ourselves. This gives us even more empathy and compassion.
Myth #4- My therapist is going to get “weird” and try and be my best friend.
While we genuinely care for our clients and see the process as deeply relational (as explained above), the therapeutic relationship is a very specific type of relationship with clear boundaries. We'll be open about that from the first session forward. Don't expect your therapist to share a lot of their personal life with you. Your therapist is present for you in the way that you need. If you have questions or need to know something about your therapist - feel free to ask. Be aware that while they might not divulge a ton of personal information, it is for your benefit.
Therapy is a place for you to be you- and the therapist is able to allow you to be you by being your therapist- not your friend.
We know that going to therapy for the first time can be scary, uncomfortable, or even awkward. We hope that by understanding what the therapeutic relationship is like it will make it a little easier on you.
If you have any more questions or if we haven't covered something here that you are curious about, please feel free to Contact Us.
-The Phoenix Counseling Collective Team Caleb, Elisa, Andy, Kim, and Molly