April 3, 2023
There are many misconceptions about therapy and therapists. In the United States, nearly half of people with mental illness have not gotten professional help.
Research has shown that talking to someone – and feeling generally understood and validated – can alleviate illness if not cure it completely. This applies to all people, regardless of how severe you consider your symptoms. Life can be difficult, and a therapist can act as a guide.
You may be wondering, what can therapy do for me? Therapy is a chance to not only learn more about yourself but to acquire new skills. There is much to gain from seeing a therapist, including but not limited to:
- improved interpersonal skills
- greater self-acceptance and self-esteem
- better expression of emotions like anger
- the ability to manage stress effectively
These are skills that all people can use, regardless of whether they have a severe mental illness.
We talked to Amanda Kaiser, M.A., a school-based therapist in our School-Linked program, to debunk some of the popular misconceptions about therapy.
“I can handle it myself with self-care.”
Many individuals utilize their own coping mechanisms to develop healthy life skills; for example, perhaps you go out biking or practice meditation to manage stress. These are relatively healthy forms of self-care and coping. But not all people are able to sustain these practices on their own.
“If what you are doing isn’t working or isn’t working as well as you’d like, it can be really helpful to get an outsider’s opinion,” said Kaiser. “Therapists are skilled at taking the chaotic or unorganized thoughts in our heads and helping us make sense of them. They are trained to help us streamline our thoughts and figure out what we can do to feel better.”
Sometimes, our behaviors are adaptations to past experiences, including trauma. Exploring our own histories under professional guidance can give us new insights into how and why we respond to certain situations, and that insight is invaluable.
“If people find out I’m going to therapy, they will think something is wrong with me or that I’m abnormal.”
We all have mental health. Each person is on their own individual journey toward feeling mentally healthy, and this journey ebbs and flows. Seeking care for symptoms of mental illness is just like any other type of medical treatment. This doesn’t make you strange or broken; we all have medical incidents, whether it be strep throat, back pain, or mental illness. This is just a part of being human, and we all have growth areas that we can work on.
“Personal growth will be uncomfortable at times, but it’s also very rewarding,” said Kaiser. “Unless you want to be who you’ve been in the past and want those patterns to continue, you are going to have to make changes, learn, and grow. It’s incredibly helpful to have someone in your corner providing feedback as you navigate that kind of personal growth.”
“Therapy is just talking. I can do that with my family or friends instead.”
Yes, venting to friends can feel great, but they aren’t professionals. They may also be dealing with symptoms of their own, making it more difficult for them to provide sound advice.
“While venting to friends and family works in some situations, these people are not objective,” said Kaiser. “Their opinions and advice are biased and based on their relationship with you, and this can also be influenced if they know the other party involved in the situation. It can be helpful to work with someone who is trained and who has dedicated their career to assessing and treating these issues that arise.”
Psychotherapy proves effective for many mental health conditions, such as symptoms of depression or anxiety. Experts say that therapy should be the first treatment method for mild to moderate psychiatric symptoms.
If you’re experiencing mild to moderate symptoms of mental illness, People Incorporated offers psychotherapy for adults, families, children, adolescents, and couples at our four outpatient clinics. Appointments can be scheduled through our Central Access Contact Center from 7:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday, by calling 651-774-0011 and pressing Option 1.
To donate to People Incorporated and provide charitable care for individuals who may not be able to afford therapy due to high deductibles or lack of insurance, visit the GIVE page on our website.