Updated: Aug 31, 2021
There is a lot of misinformation out there about psychologists. Most of this has come from how movies and TV shows portray psychologists. These myths can be harmful as they can cause confusion and prevent individuals from seeking support. Additionally, it can clarify expectations for those who want to work with a psychologist.
Myth 1 : All psychologists are the same.
Truth: When we think of a psychologist, we may envision someone providing psychotherapy or counselling to clients or patients. In these cases, they are likely either a clinical or counselling psychologist. However, there are many other types of psychologists. Some psychologists work in academia, research, or consulting. In other words, not all psychologists are therapists. At the same time, psychologists are not the only ones who can provide therapy. Many other professionals provide therapy, including counsellors, social workers and (some) psychiatrists. However, for the rest of this article, we will be focusing on clinical or counselling psychologists.
Myth 2 : There has to be something wrong with you if you are going to a psychologist.
Truth: A significant number of people that psychologists work with are indeed experiencing difficulties with their mental health. However, the degree and intensity of psychological distress can vary greatly. You do not necessarily need to have a diagnosable disorder to see a psychologist. We can all benefit from some extra support sometimes. Seeking out therapy can be a protective and proactive step. Getting help early can prevent potential issues from worsening and help improve certain aspects of your life greatly.
When are some instances where you should consider therapy?
Undergoing major life changes or transitions
Transitioning to adulthood, marriage, having children, separation, retirement, career change, moving somewhere new
You are a caregiver to someone who has a physical or mental health condition
To improve your connection and relationships
To learn how to cope and deal with issues in a healthy way
You are having a hard time dealing with an issue or decision
You are feeling “off” and just not like your usual self
Myth 3 : Seeing a psychologist will solve all your problems
Truth: Therapy is a collaborative process involving you and your therapist. They serve as a guide and support system. They can help you process emotions, explore patterns, see different perspectives and find solutions. That being said, therapy is most effective when you are willing to participate in the process actively. You are in charge of creating change. The reality is the majority of the work happens outside of your therapist’s office. It is about when and how you take the insights, skills, and tools you learn and apply them to your life.
Another consideration is that most issues do not change or improve significantly overnight. The process may not be linear, and you may see some improvements with some setbacks in between.
The timeline varies for every person and every situation, but usually, it takes more than one session. Even when you feel better or that your issues are resolved, you can continue to see a psychologist on an as-needed basis.
Myth 4 : Talking to a psychologist is the same as talking to a friend or family member.
Truth: Psychologists are trained professionals with extensive knowledge and understanding of mental health. While listening to you, they provide empathy while remaining nonjudgmental. Since they do not know you personally, they can be more objective. They can offer an unbiased perspective that you cannot get from a friend or family member. Due to this, you may find it easier to open to a psychologist about certain issues you feel uncomfortable discussing with loved ones.
The focus is completely on you during therapy. While communicating with friends and family comes an unspoken expectation of mutual support. You are usually going back and forth, exploring issues that both parties are facing. Your therapy session is 100% dedicated to you and your needs.
Having great relationships where you can have honest conversations with your loved ones is wonderful. It can significantly improve connection and deepen relationships, but it is not the same as therapy. It is important to be mindful that family or friends may have limitations regarding how much they can support.
Myth 5 : Psychologists have everything figured out.
Truth: Psychologists are experts in mental health, but at the same time, they are human. Good psychologists can implement and use the same self-care and healthy coping they teach clients in their own lives. They seek support when needed, with many psychologists attending therapy themselves. They take care of themselves so they can fully be there for their clients.