How many times throughout your life have you heard someone say "Psychologists? That's for crazy people!". Or perhaps, "Go to a psychologist? What's the point? They just talk." And how many times have you thought you might even benefit from therapy but for fear of being judged or ashamed at what they might think of you, you end up not going?
Let me tell you that you are not the only one who has heard these statements or felt embarrassed when talking about psychotherapy and psychological counselling. But now more than ever, preconceived ideas about psychology, psychotherapy and counselling need to be demystified so that we can all, without judgement and pressure from others, act according to our needs.
Look, when you feel physical pain, you don't shy away or think twice about going to your doctor and analysing the problem, do you? You don't get caught up in ruminations fuelled by shame, nor do you go to your doctor on the sly or masking yourself. Now, this is our goal. We don't want you to be trapped by shame or guilt because you feel a certain way, because you are in need of help to deal with the wounds that are not so visible to others.
Mental health is as important as our physical health, and the two are closely linked. Mind you, many people will have mental health issues during their lifetime. Studies show that 1 in 5 people will be diagnosed with a mental disorder during their lifetime.
Here are some of the myths and misconceptions you may hear regarding psychological health and support.
Going to therapy means weakness or instability
Sometimes we feel like we have to solve problems on our own. Admitting that we need help is not always easy (most of the time it isn't!!), but we all need help sometimes and seeking it is in itself a courageous act.
When we seek help, we are immediately valuing ourselves and admitting that we need to make some changes in our life. Therapy can help you resolve and overcome some of the obstacles you are facing, develop positive changes, and support your personal development. It doesn't matter if these obstacles are big or small. They are obstacles and you don't have to deal with them alone.
Therapy will only focus on my childhood
For many years, this myth has been perpetuated by the media and much of this is due to Sigmund Freud's role in the field of psychological science. Although many mental disorders have their origins in childhood traumas, a psychologist aims to help you cope with the difficulties you face in your daily life.
History and development in infancy is a relevant factor in therapy, to understand cognitive and behavioural patterns of the person, however, the focus is on learning to cope and react in a healthier way to everyday situations.
My problem is not serious enough to see a psychologist
Most people believe that we need to have serious issues or severe trauma to benefit from therapy, but this is not true. Let's go back to the analogy of physical pain and your visit to the doctor. If you experience physical pain that in any way impacts on your normal functioning you will want to check that everything is okay, right? It is the same with psychotherapy.
Therapy can help you deal with any and all difficulties that you are experiencing and that you cannot resolve on your own. Any concern is valid and worth dealing with. The idea that our problems are not serious enough can be dangerous and lead to someone not seeking the support they need.
Don't compare your pain or difficulty to that of others because the most important thing is you, and looking after yourself.
Why should I go to a psychologist when I have friends and family to talk to?
A social support network, such as friends and family, is essential and they can help you in certain areas of your life. But, they are not trained mental health professionals and may not be the best ones to advise you, despite their good intentions.
If you need help, don't hesitate!
Forget the stigma around the idea of seeing a psychologist. If you need help and it is in your best interest, seek help from a mental health professional.
Seeking therapy is a way to explore your thoughts, feelings, actions and help in order to better understand yourself as well as your contexts, bringing satisfaction, compassion and acceptance into your life.