Five Lies About Psychotherapy

· January 7, 2019

Psychotherapy is a world that has yet to be fully explored. There are so many myths, half-truths, and meaningless lies about psychotherapy that people firmly believe. In reality, some people don’t quite understand that all our experiences reside in our mind, which resides in the brain, and that the brain is a complex organ which can function improperly.

It’s perfectly normal for the mind to not always work at its maximum capacity. The important thing to understand here is that the treatment of the mind is more abstract than that of other body parts. The brain isn’t just an organ, but a producer of immaterial experiences. This may explain why some of its processes aren’t treated with a pill or an injection, but with other methods. One of them is psychotherapy.

“Overcoming difficulties leads to courage, self-respect, and knowing yourself.”

-Alfred Adler-

Many individuals criticize psychotherapy without having ever gone to therapy at least once. It’s impossible for someone to have a genuine perspective on something when they haven’t experienced it first-hand. Additionally, there are famous cartoons and clichés that have generated prejudices against this type of treatment. What are these unfounded misunderstandings some people blindly believe? Here are five of them.

1. You should resort to therapy when you need someone to talk to

Sometimes you hear things like “God is the best psychologist” or “I don’t need to see a psychologist because that’s what friends are for”. These types of phrases represent one of the biggest lies about psychotherapy: that going to therapy is just like having a normal conversation.

A therapist talking about the lies about psychotherapy to her patient.

It’s true that words are the fundamental tool of almost all psychotherapies. However, therapists establish dialogues with their patients to help them out, not to talk about mundane things.

2. You should only go to therapy during crises

Yes, most people go to psychotherapy when they’re going through a crisis. More often than not, their reason for going to therapy is a loss (such as a breakup or the death of a loved one). In times like these, individuals realize that they may need professional help.

Evidently, psychotherapy can help to process these types of situations, serving as a guide for the patient to heal properly. However, you don’t necessarily have to go through a crisis to go see a psychologist. You can go to therapy to deal with all kinds of situations, not just critical ones.

3. Only famous therapists are good

This is one of the biggest lies about psychotherapy. A lot of people believe that only extremely qualified professionals are good at what they do. However, this isn’t always true.

For psychotherapy to work, the patient must be fully committed. By this, we’re not saying that it’s not important for the therapist to be well-trained. However, not only famous or renowned therapists are good at what they do.

“It is the client who knows what hurts, what directions to go, what problems are crucial, what experiences have been deeply buried.”

-Carl Rogers-

Psychologist sitting in front of his patient.

4. Psychotherapy does the same thing that a good friend could do

Our good friends are always interested in and willing to help us if they see we’re not feeling good. Having friends who are willing to listen to you and give you their opinions about your problems is a valuable thing you shouldn’t take for granted. Your friends help you because they have your best interest at heart.

That being said, there’s a big difference between the feeling of warmth and company that they can give you and the ability a person can have to detect and help you deal with an emotional or mental problem. Only a trained therapist can do the latter.

5. It’s a necessary sacrifice

This article on lies about psychotherapy would be incomplete without this cliché. So many people believe that therapy is an extremely serious process in which the person is going to be analyzed and questioned. This couldn’t be further from the truth. The patient is the star of therapy. Psychotherapy revolves around the patient and their needs.

In fact, many people don’t know just how interesting and fun this process can be. When you’re really committed and want to improve, it becomes something you look forward to every week. With the help of a well-trained and reliable professional, this self-discovery process can be quite enlightening.

Psychologist taking notes.

People should know that psychotherapy is a viable alternative when they need help or feel that life isn’t going the way they want it. It’s also important to highlight that no one should be ashamed of going to therapy. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to feel better, so don’t let those clichés stop you from going on this amazing journey.

“The principle aim of psychotherapy is not to transport one to an impossible state of happiness, but to help the client acquire steadfastness and patience in the face of suffering.”

-Carl Jung-

  • Labrador, F. J., Echeburúa, E., & Becoña, E. (2000). Guía para la elección de tratamientos psicológicos efectivos. Madrid: Dykinson.