International Mental Health day: Busting common myths about therapy

‘Why don’t you focus on the good parts of life?’

‘Oh, you just need to take a break, you’re not crazy.’

‘Once you start therapy, you can’t get out of it.’

‘Therapy is unnecessary, you have to be strong.’

Anyone who has ever been in therapy or is currently in therapy has at some point faced the stigma and misconceptions people have about therapy. Often these myths were projected in the form of random questions as such thrown at them.

Today, on International Mental Health Day, we are busting some of the most common myths and misconceptions about therapy.

Myth: Therapy is only for serious mental illnesses.

Truth: Therapy can help anyone and everyone to process life events and emotions.

Therapy is a scientifically proven process to help people navigate their actions, emotions, create healthy behaviour patterns and understand how their mind works. Yes, therapy is used by doctors to work with mentally-ill patients, but it is also a great way to build positive mental habits for oneself.

Many people go to therapy to cope with drastic changes in their life. It can be a job change or a job loss, losing a loved one, divorce or getting married, a major failure or even before taking the big step of life. Therapy can be preventive care practise for people with hectic lifestyles.

Several pieces of research show a link between mental health and physical health. In several cases, stress can lead to physical exhaustion, and severe anxiety can lead to various gastrointestinal disorders. Therapy can help a person to map their physical discomforts to their emotional or mental turmoil.

Myth: Therapy is unnecessary, you have to toughen up in life, and/or you should just talk to a friend.

Truth: Therapy is often necessary. It is also different from talking to a friend and is not related to one's strength.

Therapy, again, is a scientific process and therapists are not anyone’s paid friend. Therapists dedicate years to educate themselves on human psychology. Talking to a friend, family, or a loved one is great, they comfort you, listen to you and support you.

However, people who aren’t professionally trained may unknowingly say things that trigger you. They also will not know how to further help you once you’ve shared your struggles with them.

Social relationships are often reciprocal and bound by certain rules, restrictions or values which might hinder your ability to share your struggles in true sense or their ability to create a safe space for you.

Whereas therapists are trained to be good listeners and facilitate safe space for their clients. They are also legally bound to secrecy (except in certain conditions). In therapy, you are allowed to let it all out without having to worry about being judged, and the best part is, a good therapist will assist you to explore and understand your thought process and help establish a practice of healthy mental habits.

Myth: Once you start, you can never get out of therapy.

Truth: No therapy is endless.

A person might go into therapy several times at different points in their life, but therapy doesn’t have to be an endless part of your life. Therapists create a targeted plan of treatment for their patients; an average time-period can be three to four months.

A person should essentially naturally phase out of therapy. One doesn’t always know their goal before starting therapy. Some might even have to dedicate more time depending on the regularity and impact of it.

A good therapist will always equip you with specific life-long tools so you can live a healthy and peaceful life on your own.

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