Karin Lawson is a licensed psychologist, certified eating disorder therapist and writer in private practice. She’s located in Miami, FL. Dr. Lawson is currently the Vice President of the International Association of Eating Disorder Professionals – Miami Chapter, as well as the President-Elect of the Miami-Dade-Monroe Psychological Association. Dr. Lawson debunks some common misconceptions about therapy in this week’s blog post.
It is said we fear the unknown, which is why many people shy away from receiving therapy. It can be intimidating walking into your therapist’s office for the very first time, not knowing what to expect.
On the flip side, some people assume they know everything about therapy and can be quite surprised.
The thing is, though therapy is not as stigmatized as it once was, it is still not talked about in most social circles. And so many people have the wrong ideas about it. If you’ve been considering seeking help from a mental health professional, you most likely have some questions as well.
With that in mind, here is what no one tells you about therapy – but should!
It’s Not Like on TV
Pop culture would have you believe the minute you step foot into a therapist’s office, he or she will have you looking at inkblots on paper and talking about your dreams within minutes.
While these approaches can be used in therapy, they more than often are not. Dream interpretation can come up, but typically only if the client wants to discuss an interesting or disturbing dream they had.
Also, many people think the entire session is devoted to discussing your early childhood years and the effect your parents have had on your life. While many therapists will want to get a history on you to uncover specific patterns, influences and emotional memories that have helped wire the brain, the idea of therapy is NOT to blame your parents for all of your current troubles, but to understand the context of you and your history.
You Won’t Feel Better Immediately
Though the end goal of therapy is to create insight and understanding, as well as behavioral changes that haven’t been helpful or effective, the process of getting there will sometimes be uncomfortable. It is unrealistic to expect you will feel better immediately. Therapy takes time and commitment. Change can be hard.
You Have to Want to Change
You can seek advice from any number of healthcare professionals for various ailments, but if you don’t take their advice and you don’t do the work, you won’t see things shift.
The same is true for therapy. Your therapist will be patient and will go at a pace that feels comfortable for you, but ultimately you have to be invested. That often means consistent appointments and follow-through with any homework assignments. It takes work for you to get there. The way people get better is to face their own behaviors, recognize the patterns, and make different choices. Your therapist will be there with you every step of the way, cheering you on.
Therapy isn’t magic, but it does provide you with the tools for lasting change.
This article was originally published on the Dr. Karin Lawson website.