Counseling & Psychotherapy: Myths versus Facts

If you have never experienced a Counseling or Psychotherapy session before, the very thought of it can be overwhelming!

 

In general, Counseling, and Psychotherapy are often stigmatized and stereotyped by what is portrayed in the

movies and on TV. The following Myths versus Facts published by the *American Psychological Association (A.P.A.), should help to clarify the process of Counseling and Psychotherapy when working with a Psychologist.

Myth:

Only crazy people go to Counseling and Psychotherapy.

Fact:

Untrue. People seek Counseling and Psychotherapy for a range of reasons in everyday life. Some pursue counseling and psychotherapy for treatment of depression, anxiety or substance abuse.  Others may want help coping with major life transitions or changing problem behaviors: the loss of a job, a divorce or the death of a loved one. Yet others need help managing and balancing the demands of parenting, work and family responsibilities, coping with medical illness, improving relationship skills or managing other stressors that can affect just about all of us. Most people can benefit from Counseling and Psychotherapy to become a better problem solver.  The stigma associated with getting help for psychological or behavioral concerns used to be a real turn off for people. Fortunately, getting help and guidance is now seen as a sign of resourcefulness. 

Myth:

Talking to family members or friends is just as effective as going to a Psychologist.

Fact:

Support from family and friends you can trust is definitely important when you're having a hard time. But a Psychologist can offer much more than talking to family and friends. Psychologists have years of specialized education, training and experience that make them experts in understanding and treating complex problems. And research shows that counseling and psychotherapy are effective and helpful.  Moreover, you can be completely honest with your Psychologist without concern that anyone else will know what you revealed. The therapeutic relationship is grounded in confidentiality  People often tell their Psychologists things they have never before revealed to anyone else.


Note: There are exceptions where a Psychologist has a duty to inform others, such as if you threaten to harm yourself or someone else. But that’s something your Psychologist will clarify with you. 

Myth:

You can get better on your own if you just try hard enough and keep a positive attitude.

Fact: 

Many people have tried to solve their problems on their own for weeks, months or even years before starting counseling and psychotherapy but have found that that it’s not enough. Deciding to start to seek guidance and assistance doesn't mean you’ve failed, just like it doesn't mean you’ve failed if you can't repair your own car. There may be a biological component to some disorders, such as depression or panic attacks, which make it incredibly difficult to heal yourself.  In reality, having the courage to reach out and admit you need help is a sign of strength rather than weakness — and the first step toward

feeling better.

Myth:

Psychologists just listen to you vent, so why pay someone to listen to you complain?

Fact:

A Psychologist will often begin the process of Counseling and Psychotherapy by asking you to describe the problem that has brought you into his or her office. But that's just a starting point. They will also gather relevant information on your background, as well as the history of your problems and other major areas of your life, and the ways you have tried to address the concerns. Counseling and Psychotherapy are typically an interactive, collaborative process based on dialogue and a person's active engagement in joint problem-solving.  Your Psychologist may give you homework assignments so that you can practice new skills between sessions or reading assignments so that you

can learn more about a particular topic. Together you and your Psychologist will identify problems, set goals and monitor your progress. 

Myth:

A Psychologist will just blame all your problems on your parents or your childhood experiences.

Fact:

One component of Counseling and Psychotherapy might entail exploring childhood experiences and significant events impacting your life. Relating information from your family background can help you and your Psychologist understand your perceptions and feelings, current coping strategies, or see patterns that developed. The point of wanting you to look backward is to better understand your present and make positive changes for the future.  However, in some instances your psychologist will choose to focus mainly on the current problem or crisis that brought you into treatment and not delve into your past at all. You’ll learn how to incorporate techniques and use tools that will help change your current thoughts or behaviors contributing to your problem. Psychologists who use an eclectic (varied) style of Counseling and Psychotherapy will know how to guide the session to include discoveries about your past with reflections on current problematic thoughts or behaviors.  

Myth:

You’ll need to stay in Counseling and Psychotherapy for many years or even the rest of your life.

Fact:

Everyone moves at a different pace during Counseling and Psychotherapy — it’s a very individualized process. It’s something you and your Psychologist can talk about in the initial meetings when developing a treatment plan. Your Psychologist's goal is not to keep you on as a client forever but to empower you to function better on your own.

Myth:

If you use your health insurance to pay for services, your employer will know you're in Counseling and Psychotherapy.

Fact:

Untrue. Remember that Counseling and Psychotherapy are bound by the rules of confidentiality. Only you can release your health records to an outsider. The only ones who know about your psychotherapy sessions are you, your Psychologist and anyone to whom you give the written approval for your Psychologist to talk (such as a physician or family member). The strict rules of confidentiality your Psychologist is bound by aren't the only protection. In most states, mental health records receive an even higher level of protection than medical records. 

American Psychological Association. (n.d.). Psychotherapy: Myths versus Reality.  Retrieved from 

     http://www.apa.org/helpcenter/psychotherapy-myths.as
 

*The American Psychological Association (APA) aspires to excel as a valuable, effective and influential organization

advancing psychology as a science. The core values that guide their mission include pursuit of excellence, knowledge, diversity and ethical action. The mission of the APA is to advance the creation, communication and application of psychological knowledge to benefit society and improve people's lives and to expand the role of Psychology in advancing health and increase recognition of Psychology as a science. 

Erie Colorado Counseling, PLLC
Jodi J. De Luca, PhD
Offices At Coal Creek
671 Mitchell Way, Suite #109
PO Box 944, Erie, Colorado 80516
Tel. 720-504-9444  *  Fax 303-997-8296 
eriecoloradocounseling@comcast.net
www.eriecoloradocounseling.com
Twitter: @DrJDeLuca