February 21, 2019

Ten Myths of Psychotherapy

“I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men’s minds without their being aware of the fact.” Levi Strauss

The process of psychotherapy is full of myths related to the process. This blog examines the most popular myths and clarifies what we know about therapy.

Myth: Clients get worse in treatment before they get better.
Fact: At the start of therapy, clients are often feeling their worst. Clients should expect noticeable positive change is 3 to 6 sessions.  It is not necessary or advisable to get worse first.

Myth: Clients become resistant to treatment because they are afraid to deal with emerging unconscious material or childhood experiences.
Fact: Clients want to change and often dealing with unconscious material is not necessary.  While it may be useful for some to do that it is also the case that many move forward looking primarily for solutions.

Myth: Client problems are usually the result of a biochemical imbalance.
Fact: In spite of drug company research, there is no substantial evidence that medication is better than therapy in changing lives. There is  evidence over the last 50 years that people who get therapy are better off than 8 of 10 people that do not receive therapy.

Myth: The appropriate diagnosis is essential for effective treatment.
Fact: Diagnosis is applied inconsistently does not correctly predict techniques to use or length of stay. What’s important for therapy is client – therapist agreement on goals and using an approach to the problem that makes sense to the client.

Myth: The clinician can change the client’s behavior with the proper techniques.
Fact: The client – clinician relationship, as viewed by the client, is the number one predictor of outcome of therapy. Only the client can change his/her behavior.  Techniques must fit with a client’s view of change. There are now over 400 different therapy techniques available. If your clinician can not find one or two that fit with you, find another clinician.

Myth: Client’s who pay directly for services benefit more in therapy.
Fact: Regardless of whether services are direct pay, insurance pay or no charge, research over the last 50 years is clear that clients
benefit from therapy.

Myth: If the clinician feels empathic towards the client an alliance is formed.
Fact: Ultimately an alliance is formed when a client determines it is formed. While empathy is often useful, it is more important to work with a therapist that fits with your needs in a broader context.

Myth: The most charismatic therapists get the best outcomes.
Fact: Therapists that have good and trusting relationships with clients, and trust that the clients can improve, have the best outcomes. Some of the most effective therapists are not charismatic. It is worth noting that there is dramatic difference in therapist ability.

Myth: Clients always know what they need.
Fact: Wouldn’t that be nice? Frequently   knowing or learning what one needs is a series of mental and behavioral experiments. The learning comes from talking or actions  the client tries, often secondary to the therapeutic interactions.

Myth: A good therapist always intuitively knows what their clients need.
Fact: A good therapist nurtures hope with clients and works with their needs. Finding and using reasonable hope is a prerequisite of effective therapy.

If you would  like more information on mental health and therapy, please contact my office: 765.288.7939 or use the contact form at www.solutiontherapycenter.com.