#CentennialTips on the Myths and Facts about Therapy
A lot of people think they know what psychotherapy is and how it works based on how it’s portrayed in media like television and movies. Sometimes media are accurate, sometimes they’re not, according to Jaylin Bradbury, who works at Shift Collab as a therapist and social worker. She recently delivered some good advice to Centennial College students through a webinar, and we’re recapping some of it here. If you’re new to therapy, or thinking of going back, here’s what you may think will happen, and what you can really expect, according to Jaylin.
Firstly, it’s a myth that “crazy” people are the ones who need therapy. This is because of society’s stigma about mental illness. Really, attending therapy is the same as going to a dentist for a teeth cleaning, or a checkup with the family doctor. All of us need our mental health and wellbeing taken care of, the same as the rest of our body.
Another fiction is that therapy takes forever, that it’s a years-long journey, which discourages people from starting the process. In reality, depending on the therapy, there are some approaches that are both brief and effective, which is good if money and time are challenges for you. Single-session therapy is even a thing.
The next myth is that if you’re not in a mental health crisis, going to therapy means you’re taking a spot that’s needed by someone else more, which is something Jaylin hears a lot from students. Crisis support is important, but real progress and growth happens when people are proactive. Therapy isn’t an emergency room. Instead, it’s more like a gym, and your mental health is something you need to work out to keep healthy.
Another misconception is that you don’t need a therapist, because if you’re having mental health issues, you can just talk to family and friends. While having family and friends as a support team is really important, they give you a different kind of support from what a therapist can provide. For one thing, therapists are impartial outsiders who are unbiased, and offer fresh views on your life. They also give you confidentiality by law, so you can be sure that anything you say to them won’t be repeated to anyone else.
Yet another myth is that there’s nothing you can do about the past, which can be really discouraging. The fact is that by better understanding your past, it can help you figure out how to move forward in the future.
A final myth is that therapists will fix all your problems. Really, it’s up to you to fix them. Your therapist is a coach or a guide who gives you tools to make the changes in your own life.
If you’d like a guide, there is a number of good resources at Centennial College, namely our Centre for Accessible Learning and Counselling Services, which is delivering its services remotely during our current closure. They can point you in the right direction and get you the help you need to stay safe and healthy. We’ve also compiled this handy list of mental health resources during Covid-19, so you can find the exact help you need.
By Anthony Geremia