The world of mental health care is plagued by the myths and stigma that surround psychotherapy. People often do not seek help for mental health conditions because they believe they can get “the same” kind of help from their family, friends and well wishers. They forget that like their doctors, their psychotherapist has also put in years to study how the mind works and are specialized to treat mental illnesses just the way doctors are specialized to treat physical illnesses.
Psychotherapy is not advice. The world’s full of advice. Part of what brings you to treatment is that perhaps you feel lost or confused with all the advice and you don’t know whom to trust. At this stage, you don’t want another person heaping advice on you. The goal of treatment, however, is to help you discover your own voice, your own opinion, your own priorities and the courage to act on them. A person who is going through a difficult time, often knows what is best for him. With some guidance, he can often find the solution to his own problems and be empowered to do so in the future as well.
Psychotherapy is not just talking. Though the medium used in psychotherapy is talking and it has traditionally been called “talk therapy”, psychotherapy goes beyond this. It involves the use of certain techniques to treat different psychological illnesses and difficulties. It may even involve the use of certain behavioral experiments or lifestyle changes as part of the treatment.
Psychotherapy is not about making a judgment and apportioning blame. Your therapist will not judge you by any legal, moral or spiritual standards but will try to understand and help you identify the root cause of your behavior and translate this understanding into constructive action. Similarly, in a conflicting situation within a relationship, a psychotherapist will not blame or side with one of the partners. He/she will be an objective, neutral person who will help both parties find a common ground that is mutually beneficial.
Psychotherapy is not motherly support. There is nothing wrong with support and nurturing and your psychotherapist may become the biggest source of strength for you in the long run. However, therapy does not involve all “sweet talk” and may not be aimed at making you feel all good. More than making you feel positive, a therapist will help you become realistic and identify your real conflicts, desires and fears. Your therapist’s questions may stir you up a little or may even seem harsh sometimes, but they will eventually help you emerge stronger and with a better self understanding.
Psychotherapy is not something to be ashamed of. Only a sensible and courageous person can make the decision to open up to a stranger about their innermost feelings and seek emotional help. Mental illnesses and emotion difficulties are not a sign of weakness. They are as common as physical illnesses and need to be treated the same way.
Calling to take the first appointment may seem like a frighteningly huge step, but only when you take the leap, you’d know that it was worth it. So if you’re feeling down or disturbed due to any challenges life has thrown at you or you want to discover the real you, see a psychotherapist immediately, for all that psychotherapy is and for all that it’s not!