4 misconceptions around therapy debunked. Picture: Cottonbro Pexels
4 misconceptions around therapy debunked. Picture: Cottonbro Pexels

4 misconceptions about therapy debunked

By Vuyolwethu Fundam Time of article published May 26, 2021

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Seeking out therapy is no longer something to be embarrassed about. With self-improvement and healing of paramount importance to individuals, more of them are confronting past traumas.

People turn to therapy for a myriad of reasons. These can include anything from depression, anxiety, grief, addiction, sexual issues and increased self-awareness or life balance.

Over the years, we've also witnessed plenty of local and international celebrities openly admit to going for therapy – and they were not shy to admit that it helped them.

Some of the international personalities, who've come out publicly about getting counselling, include Prince Harry, Demi Lovato, Jessica Alba, Justin Bieber, Ariana Grande, Michael B Jordan, Gabrielle Union, Brad Pitt, and more.

In a 2018 tweet, American actress and singer Ariana Grande credited therapy for having saved her life. And she further asserted that people should not be afraid to ask for help.

In 2017, while chatting to the Telegraph, Prince Harry also spoke openly about his own grief following his mother's death and about normalising mental health issues.

Locally, personalities like Miss South Africa Shudufhadzo Musida, Simphiwe Dana, Trevor Gumbi, Bonnie Mbuli, and Dr Tumi, to name a few, have also been vocal about their mental health struggles and therapy.

Miss South Africa, who is also a mental health advocate, spoke about how she has battled with depression from a young age due to bullying.

She hosts a #MindfulMondays series on her Instagram account, where she has discussions with mental health experts.

Mbuli also documented her battle with clinical depression in her autobiography, Eyebags & Dimples, and addressed the stigma associated with it.

While people are more receptive to the idea of therapy, there are some long-standing misconceptions that may prevent them from seeking out the support needed.

Below, Cassandra Govender, a clinical psychologist, helps us debunk some of these myths:

Only mentally ill people go to therapy

Therapy is beneficial for anyone and everyone, says Govender.

"Just like wellness is not just about seeing a doctor, but also eating well, getting enough sleep or exercising – being mentally well is more than just not getting ill," she explains.

"It is about being able to cope with your daily life stressors, having healthy and supportive relationships, and being able to live a meaningful life," said Govender.

Therapy is a big complaining session

Venting is not the only or the main purpose of therapy. According to Govender, expressing your frustrations might help you gain perspective, as well as release negative emotions.

Therapy is about advice-giving

She points out that therapy is about allowing people to reach their own conclusions and insights, rather than imposing their own as experts.

"This, of course, is difficult for people as they come seeking answers (usually right now) and are disheartened to find that they will have to work to find meaning in their lives but, in the end, it makes the experience that much more rewarding," she says.

Once you start therapy you have to go forever

This will be unique to each person's situation.

Therapy might be for a specific period or the rest of your life, depending on your reasons for going.

"It is an acknowledgement that everyone is on their own journey, and require their own amount of time to process and work through things," she adds.

According to Govender, therapy is about having the courage to examine your life and really see what is working and what isn't.

"Going to therapy is not about weakness, but rather immense strength and courage," she says.

Important things to note before going to therapy

Therapy is about fit

You are allowed to shop around and find a professional who aligns with your needs and feelings. Choose someone who feels right for you.

Know what you expect from the process

Don't set unrealistic expectations, as they can often cause misalignment on how useful you have found the experience.

Therapy has different approaches

You can use skills-based approaches, like art (music-based) therapy, instead of the usual sit-down method.

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