Mental Health Awareness Week: Busting Myths About Asking for Support

For MHAW I’d like to bust some myths about psychotherapy, so that people feel more able to access support for their mental health in this way. Here are five myths I hear a lot about psychotherapy:

‘You have to go to therapy for years to make any progress’

Not true at all. Some types of talking therapy are offered as short-term work (around 6 sessions) as standard, whilst others can be much longer. Generally: the more sessions you have, the more areas you can work on. You can also work at more depth the more time you have with your Psychotherapist, which can mean looking at the root of the issue rather than simply how to change how you experience its impact.

At Therapy Leeds you’re welcome to have as few or as many sessions as you’d like, including working in an open-ended way. How long we work together can be based on what you would like to focus on. Having the freedom to see someone for as long as you’d like is often important, too.

You have to talk about your feelings/your childhood’

Whatever you say (or don’t say) in psychotherapy is your choice. For some it’s a relief to be able to talk to someone privately who doesn’t know them, and for others talking to anyone is hugely anxiety-provoking. Being a mix of these two is common too.

Being asked about your feelings is usually more about finding out what you experience personally as a result of what you’re going through. Emotions colour how we all experience the world, so addressing these may be helpful in making the overall changes you want to make.

Wanting to focus on what’s happening now, rather than what happened in the past, can be totally relevant to working on your mental health needs as you struggle with them today.

A look into your childhood can be helpful in understanding behavioural, emotional, and relationship patterns that you learned back then. Sometimes psychotherapy involves letting go of any of these that are no longer helpful, and learning new ways of dealing with things.

You have to talk about the trauma’

Sometimes talking about a traumatic experience is re-triggering, so it’s completely off the table as a topic even if you want to share what happened with someone. Sometimes traumatic experiences are loaded with so much blame, shame, and guilt that you can’t push past them to speak freely.

It is entirely possible to work on the impact of a traumatic experience without talking about what happened. This can be a helpful starting point to eventually being able to talk about it (if that’s important to you), or a way to process what happened without going into detail if that’s what you’d prefer.

‘It’s only working if you cry every time’

This one is similar to the above, in that many people assume there’s a set way to be in psychotherapy.

You don’t have to fit into anyone else’s version of what is seen as ‘appropriate’ or ‘normal’ when it comes to experiencing, and expressing your emotions.

In psychotherapy you can be happy, sad, angry, frustrated, confused, shy, confident, etc. You can also have a combination of any emotions you experience, as it doesn’t have to be straightforward.

What’s important is being able to express yourself without judgement or shame, which is what a Psychotherapist can offer.

‘Someone else needs my space more than me’

If you are struggling then you deserve to have support, including access to psychotherapy appointments. It doesn’t matter what the struggle is, or how it affects you.

This goes for people of all ethnicities, genders, gender expressions, languages, sexualities, cultures, disabilities, and skin colour. Everyone is welcome, and deserves support.

If you have any other questions about psychotherapy, or what to expect, get in touch.

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