3 Therapy Myths That Every Client Needs To Know

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If you think that therapy is as simple as sitting down with some guru giving you direct advice, that it’s some quick fix, and that only the rich can see a therapist, then I’ve got news for you: this is not the case.

In today’s post, I’m going to show you the behind the scenes about therapy. Not only will I reveal 3 common therapy myths, but I’ll give you the inside scoop about what might be going on, and things you could be doing instead.

Let’s get started.

1. Your Therapist Will Give You Direct Advice

Big time movies and television shows often portray therapists as this all knowing guru, with unlimited knowledge.

We, including myself, definitely don’t know it all.

With this type of ongoing media exposure, it makes a lot of sense for people to think that therapists give advice, and just send you out the door.

However, direct advice from a professional stranger isn’t as effective as it sounds. Sure, it does take the weight off of you for a moments time, but once you leave their office, it’s not all sunshine and roses.

Here’s what you haven’t been told:

Good therapy will not require receiving direct advice from your therapist. But, there are some exceptions to this which I will cover in another article.

In fact, your therapist may suggest that some of the best advice will come directly from you. Yup, you read that line right.

Some of the best advice I’ve ever heard myself came directly from the client’s I’ve served. They just needed specific factors in place before getting to that point.

So, how do people in therapy get what they need without receiving direct advice from their therapist?

Here’s what will likely happen:

At this point, chances are you might be thinking:

“Then why would I even go see a therapist if they aren’t going to give me advice?”

Good question. I asked the same thing before becoming a therapist myself.

Contrary to belief, if every therapist were to give direct advice to their clients, there’s a high probability that this advice would not cater exactly to each client’s circumstances.

And, if your therapist were to tell you exactly what to do and it backfires, how likely are you going to develop further trust with them? It’s hard to say.

But, there are plenty more factors as to why giving advice isn’t the best advice for therapists to follow.

Better yet, it’s actually a good thing when you can sit down with a therapist who allows you to get our ideas out in the open. Why?

Because it’s probably been a very long time since you’ve had the opportunity to speak without interruption.

How does this work? What does this mean?

Think of a jumbled up sentence where nothing is making sense at first. Like a messy first draft essay.

The beginning stages of therapy is JUST like this process.

Your therapist may have a hunch as to how you can begin moving words around to make the sentence better, but they’d rather see you attempt first.

Interestingly, the more you disclose to your therapist, and with a focus, there’s a chance some of the sentences (aka life) can be straightened out.

Every now and then, you’ll be surprised yourself at how great of a problem solver you are. Trust me.

Sometimes, all it takes is another person to bounce your ideas off of, then BOOM…a final draft is written, and a piece of your problem is straightened out.

2. Therapy is a Quick Fix

Just as it seems legit that therapists give direct advice, it can also seem that therapy is a quick fix process. Again, most people have been exposed to what they may think therapy is, but perhaps they haven’t been given the full picture.

Essentially, therapy is a step-by-step process that requires careful decision making and yes, time.

Why is this? The answer: because people are complicated, and do not experience simple difficulties.

So, with some of life’s most complex questions being asked in therapy, chances are the answers might be just as complex.

Here’s what you haven’t been told:

Some therapy may require 2-4 sessions. Other times it can last for months, even years.

There are even some instances where therapy is a part of someone’s routine for the rest of their life. This is what most professionals call a higher level of care option.

And here’s the tough part:

It all depends.

No one likes to see or hear those words, but this is one thing I do find true in my work.

Therapy is not a quick fix because it depends on the following factors:

  • Frequency of the issue
  • Intensity of the issue
  • Number of support system
  • Strength of support system
  • Interpersonal skillset
  • Medication compliance
  • Cultural factors
  • Biological factors
  • Social economic status
  • Psychological factors
  • Sociological factors
  • Employment history
  • Environmental factors
  • Coping skillset
  • Physical health
  • Level of education
  • Independent living skills
  • Resiliency factors
  • And SO much more

Here’s what will likely happen:

Therapy is not a quick fix type of process because of how multilayered people are.

Think about it for a moment.

Let’s say you come in because you’re feeling alone. Chances are, your therapist will perform an assessment to get a fuller picture of your experience, including feeling alone.

These assessments may uncover further information that people do not often think about. Sometimes, this information can also be a part of the healing process.

And, this process can also open the door for other issues to arise. Which is another reason why therapy is not always a quick fix. It’s an ongoing process of both venting and problem solving.

3. Therapy is Expensive

This one’s a toss-up because therapy, just like any service, runs in gradients regarding price.

Some therapists charge as little as $40 a session and up to $250 a session. Higher cost of living cities such as New York and San Francisco charge even more for various reasons.

However, there are plenty of other ways to achieve mental health wellness without breaking the bank—yet sometimes this is worth it to some people. But for others, you’ve just got to get a little creative with this.

Here’s what you haven’t been told:

About once a week, friends and acquaintances ask the me the same question:

“Do you know where I can get therapy for free? Or at least low cost?”

My answer:
“How much time/effort/money are you willing to spend?”

You see, therapy doesn’t just cost money, but as you’ve read earlier, it costs both time and effort. But not just for the work you do in therapy itself, but finding the right fit that works for both you and the therapist is important as well.

How do I get creative with this?

The bad news is that many good people do not give therapy a shot after they’ve done a quick Google search with how much it costs. I don’t blame them.

The good news is that once you read this article, or others that are similar, my hope is that you won’t rely on Google as much anymore for answering such a heavy question.

Here are some thoughts I do share with my friends and acquaintances after they’ve answered some of those earlier questions:

1. Use your insurance

Believe it or not, but most health insurances include behavioral health benefits. If you have insurance and are not sure, give your insurance company a call and they will give you direct information as to what behavioral health benefits you may have.

2. Look into non-profit clinics

Many of these types of clinics often take walk-ins from those who do and do not have insurance coverage. There are plenty of services offered in these types of clinics such as therapy, medication support, and complimentary approaches.

3. Check out universities

Believe it or not, but many colleges and universities offer free and low-cost counseling services for locals in those areas. If you’re a Kern County, California resident, here’s your free local resource.

4. See what your county offers

Many counties within states offer specific services that can cater to many who live in the area. For instance, Kern County, California offers a free locally funded service for residents called the Consumer Family Learning Center (CFLC) which offers the following services:

  • Anonymous support groups
  • Educational classes on mental health
  • Social activities
  • Arts and crafts
  • Trips in the community
  • Engagement with others
  • Substance abuse classes
  • Volunteer opportunities

5. Go private anyways

Many client’s I’ve seen at the non-profit clinic I work for have worked with therapists in private practice. It can be both costly or not depending on what you and your therapist work out.

It’s becoming increasingly common for private practice therapists to offer sliding scales for clients in a financial pinch. It never hurts to give these therapists a call to check. You might be surprised at what you find out.

Last Words

So, there you have it: 3 therapy myths that every client needs to know about. You may have not realized that therapists don’t necessarily give direct advice, that the process is a quick fix, or expensive.

But as you saw, therapy relies on the actions client’s take when they leave the office just as much as they are in the office. It also includes time, effort, and creative ways in paying for services.

Jacob Kountz

Jacob Kountz

Jacob is currently an Associate Marriage and Family Therapist in Bakersfield, Ca.

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