There are common misconceptions people have when it comes to therapy, especially when trying to differentiate between speaking with a confidant and going to see a therapist. This blog addresses some of these false conceptions, and works to transition them into more realistic expectations about therapy.
Confidant: Venting and letting your feelings out.
Therapist: Uses active listening and professional tailored plans of treatment.
A common expectation revolves around the idea that people go to therapists to vent, and let their feelings and thoughts out. Needing to chit chat can be better attributed to a friend or a relative rather than a therapist. When going to speak with a therapist, you receive a different response than you would a friend, and that comes from training in active listening - the practice of listening intently with empathy, acceptance, and zero judgement. To be trained as a therapist, it takes years of studies, training, and experience; it’s a job that requires a professional set of skills, biological and physiological understanding, and accountability from professional peers. Remember that it’s a specialized process tailored to fit each and every individual.
Confidant: Gives advice to help you.
Therapist: Supports you in developing personal growth in order to make your own decisions. Another common expectation people hold is that seeing a therapist will help them solve a problem quickly, or will give them a solution to a situation they’re struggling to deal with on their own. Another scenario is that some people have the idea that they should seek therapy when they are put in a situation where several choices are available and they do not know what to do. Hence, going to therapy to ask for advice or having the therapist decide what they should do is an option. This actually is not specifically true. Although people sometimes have certain goals that revolve around “problem-solving” or “decision-making”, therapy has an overall different aim. Its purpose is to pave the way for personality growth and development. For example, therapists help clients make their own decisions, based on different modalities of therapy, rather than making them for them.
Confidant: You don’t have to worry about what is being disclosed.
Therapist: You may feel some unease because the more you learn to gain insight and awareness about the what’s why’s and how’s of your struggles, the more you may develop negative emotions (overwhelmed, confused, lost) along your therapeutic journey.
It is common for people to feel uneasy, heavy, or not at ease after leaving a therapy session. This discomfort can stem from a deep-seated feeling that we’re not meant to entertain things that are negative, or from a place where we feel exposed to or seen more than we usually let ourselves be seen. Deciding to go to therapy also means that we recognize that therapy is a journey, and the effects of therapy can even remain after a person has come to the end of their therapy journey. One of the major objectives in therapy can be to increase one's self-awareness and help gain insight into our lives. This supports people as they gain the ability to understand what major issues serve as a cause of their behavior. Once someone is aware of why they are the way they are, they can then understand how or what they need to work on to feel better.