Therapists Spill: 11 Myths About Therapy
Myth 6: Therapists typically agree with their clients, since their job is to make them feel better.
A therapist’s job isn’t to placate clients. Rather, it’s to challenge them and help them grow. According to Marter:
Of course, having a strong therapeutic rapport or positive working relationship is the key to success in therapy. However, this doesn’t mean that your therapist is just going to accept your point of view as verbatim and affirm everything you say and do.
As therapists, we are trained to recognize that there are always other sides of the story. We notice patterns and trends, clients’ behaviors, experiences and relationships.
We can usually tell when there is missing information or things don’t seem to add up and will challenge clients to explore these blind spots and support them in that process of increasing insight and consciousness.
While a therapist will most often empathize with a client’s emotional response to a situation, we also encourage clients to challenge their thinking, their belief systems, or look at things from other perspectives to help them learn, grow and move forward in their lives.
Myth 7: A therapist never takes sides.
Sometimes taking sides is necessary because it leads to progress. According to Terri Orbuch, Ph.D, a psychotherapist and author of Finding Love Again: Six Simple Steps to a New and Happy Relationship:
At times, a therapist might have to take a side, either to keep a couple moving along, to challenge a client, or because of a particular issue at hand. For example, let’s say a couple comes in for marital counseling. One of the partners refuses to change, and refuses to discuss any issue or even listen to the other partner.
The partner that is refusing to discuss is very angry about being at the therapist’s office. At that time, a therapist might say to the angry partner: “Why are you here if you don’t want to discuss anything?” or “Do you think this lack of involvement is helping your marriage?”
To me, this is siding with one partner [in order] to engage one partner or move the couple along. The therapist is taking a side to challenge the other partner.
Myth 8: If you don’t start feeling better right away, therapy isn’t working.
Many people think that therapy takes one or two sessions, said John Duffy, Ph.D, a clinical psychologist and author of the book The Available Parent: Radical Optimism for Raising Teens and Tweens.
“That’s about how long it takes to get the story down and establish a little sense of trust,” he said. “Then, therapy can begin.”
Think of getting better as less like getting a shot at the doctor’s office and more like organizing a messy closet. According to Marter: