Three Misconceptions About Seeing a Therapist Regularly

And why everyone should probably seek some type of counseling.


Photo via Getty Images/Elvetica

The two times I’ve gone to therapy were the two most uncomfortable instances in my life—they were traumatic. Partly because I was forced to work through difficult things in my life, but mostly because of the stigma and shame I felt for going. Let me tell you, it’s not supposed to be that way.

Brie Shelly, a licensed mental health counselor with her own private practice right here in Boston, says we’ve made great strides to make mental health and therapy more open and accessible, but we still have a ways to go. As our society continues to place more of an emphasis on social media and pressures to perform and succeed surmount, it’s only inevitable that everyone’s mental health could use a little extra TLC. That’s where counseling can become extremely helpful.

But, as in my own therapy journey, there are misconceptions. We neglect to think therapy is an option because of the shame and stigma wrapped around the archaic way we view it. Below are three misconceptions of seeing a therapist regularly and why, if you don’t already, you should be participating in some type of counseling. As for me? I’ll probably take my own advice. Third time’s a charm, right?

1. It’s only something people do when they’re going through a big life change

One of my good friends has recently started seeing a therapist every Friday during her lunch break. At first, it caught me a little off guard. The more she talked about it though, the more I could see just how much it was helping. Her desire to go wasn’t prompted by any singular change in her life, but rather out of a desire to get to know herself a little better—something I find pretty admirable. Every Friday she has a designated time in her schedule to talk about whatever she wants with a completely third party person. Complaints about work, relationship stressors, and family issues are all things she can let air dry and work through before heading back to finish her work day. Sounds pretty refreshing if you ask me.

“I encourage all clients to seek support on a regular basis for any reason,” Shelly says. “It can help prevent you from reaching your boiling point and can be pivotal in impacting your ability to thrive.” On top of that, you’re able to talk through those bigger life transitions as they come up with someone who knows you and what you’ve been going through, she adds.

2. You’ll become best friends with your therapist

“I think a lot of the movies portray the therapist/client relationship incorrectly,” Shelly explains. “Most providers have been trained to balance building rapport with clients while not building a friendship because we are meant to guide you, not be your new best friend. Providers are encouraged to only share personal information if it is clinically relevant with the client.”

While it might not be your motive to make a new BFF at therapy, the intimate details you share of your life might make it feel that way. Remember, the key to the relationship is that your therapist is there to serve as an unbiased party to guide you and offer suggestions, or alternative ways of viewing your life.

3. It will fix all your problems

After both times I went to therapy I thought just showing up would cure my frustrations and heart ache. But that’s hardly the case. Working on what’s going on in your own head is hard, and at the end of the day its’s no one’s responsibility but your own.

“I’ve had clients expect me to give them all of the answers or be the big magic fix,” Shelly says. “When that is far, far from what is actually meant to happen during our sessions. I’m meant to help guide you as you discover the answers.” It’s all about the journey my friends.

If you’re looking for a therapist in Boston, Shelly recommends using Zencare. Through the website you can filter searches by location, payment, specialties, and more. She notes that in order to find someone who’s a good fit, allow for 2-3 sessions with that provider.