Misconceptions about People who go to Therapy

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“Talk to your family and friends, why are paying someone to talk to you”.  “Are you crazy or something?”  These are phrases people often say to others when they hear that you’re seeing a  therapist.   Many people won’t seek therapy because they don’t want to be labeled as “crazy”.   Therefore in order to shed light on the truth about seeing a therapist and raise awareness, I’ve  complied a list of things you shouldn’t assume about people who go to therapy.

1. They’re weak.

Going to therapy is a very courageous and strong thing to do.  You have  to be open to facing every corner of your mind and heart and be completely open about fears, truths and experiences in order to really get the most of what a therapist can offer. This requires strength.  You need strength  in order to explore your own emotional and mental limits and boundaries, strength to be guided in directions you wouldn’t go and strength to learn and actively seek a better place.

2. They’re crazy.

Whether someone  is suffering from a mental illness or seeking help for overwhelming feelings/thoughts, “crazy” is never an appropriate term.


3.  Therapy is for rich people.

Therapy can be expensive, but there are different ways to pay for therapy.  Many therapists accept insurance and some have sliding fee scales.  Also Open Path Collective can connect you to therapists who charge between $30-$50 per session.

4. They have no friends.

Therapy is not a replacement for friendship, and a therapist is not a friend. Friendships are two-way streets, which can cause a very biased view of experiences and circumstances; therapy is a one-sided relationship with a professional who has the skills to guide and help you through your struggles and needs.  Most of my clients have many friends who love and care for them.


5.  They’re in a bad “place.”

Someone  does not need to be in a “bad” or “dangerous” place to see a therapist.  There’s usually a catalyst for deciding to go, but it could be a culmination of experiences or feelings, not necessarily that something bad recently happened to you.

6. There’s a set time frame for being in therapy.

Some people go to therapy for years while some only go for a few months to work on a specific issue.  The client and therapist will decide together an appropriate plan for treatment.

7.  They’re  on medication.

It’s common for people to believe that if you’re in therapy, you must be on medication.  While some people who are in therapy are also taking medication, many are not taking any medication.  Most of my clients in my practice do not take medication.

8. Their  therapist tells them what to do and what to think.

A therapist is there to help you  uncover your strengths, work through your struggles and help  you to lead a healthier, happier life not tell you  what to do.


It’s my hope that these common misconceptions will change and people will feel less ashamed about going to therapy.  Remember there is nothing wrong with reaching out for help.

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Media and Mental Illness

People with mental disorders are far more likely to be victims of crimes than perpetrators, but that is hardly the impression left by the media.  Television and films often portray people with mental illness as being volatile and violent.
People who commit a violent crime are frequently labeled “psychos,” “maniacs,” or “schizophrenics” by headline writers and newscasters,  this inaccurately links violence and mental illness in the public mind.

Surveys show that over 60  percent of Americans believe that people with schizophrenia are violent toward others, and over 50 percent describe them as unpredictable.
While the media often  blames mental illness  for violent acts, a closer look often reveals that there are many  factors which can cause a person to be violent.  Many studies connecting violence and mental illness are  biased because they come  from populations of prison inmates or from psychiatric patients.   However, these are only a subset of the mentally ill population and not representative of people with mental illness as a whole.

Deinstitutionalization has also been  blamed for  acts of violence that are committed by people with mental illness.    Studies by the American Psychiatric Association have shown that there has  been a very minimal  increase in violence by mentally ill individuals since deinstitutionalization, although they are 12 times more likely than others to be victims of crimes in large cities.

The effect of blaming violence on mental illness  increases  the  stigma against all people with mental illnesses.  That stigma is reinforced by sensationalized reporting or  stereotyping on television and in movies.  Media presentations often reinforces popular misconceptions about mental illness  which will deepen the fear and stigma and will deter people from getting help.

Even when media stereotypes do not focus on a link between violence and mental illness, they still often portray mentally ill people  in condescending and stigmatizing ways. If they are not portrayed as homicidal maniacs, people with mental illness are often  depicted as childlike  or unconventional free spirits.  They are rarely seen as just “regular” people.  Combating these  stigmas isn’t easy however hopefully as we move forward, mental illness will be portrayed in a more balanced way.