For the next couple weeks, I want to use Tuesday Therapy Notes to address some common misconceptions about therapy. As this series is for addressing types of therapy and common issues with therapy, it seems like the perfect place and now seems like the perfect time. The misconception I’d like to address today is that therapy is not a quick fix.
The corollary to there being no quick fixes is that therapists do not have easy, ready made answers for you when it comes to your mental health conditions. I say this because too many seek therapy wanting a quick fix. That may be especially true this year, where so many may be dealing with mental health struggles for the first time. This time of year can also be a time for ‘quick-fix seekers,’ when some might turn to therapists for quick advice about a family situation during the holidays. If you want quick solutions, ask an advice columnist. If you want positive, long-term change, go to therapy.
I don’t mean to discount the problems experienced by those seeking quick solutions or advice about family members that have gotten on their nerves one two many times. Their problems and their feelings are valid. Yet if they want quick, ready-made solutions, they are likely to get frustrated by therapy. Because that isn’t what therapy is about.
I also say this as someone who originally thought that therapy would be a short term thing. I first went to therapy because of my insomnia. I thought the therapist would talk to me about my sleep habits for a few sessions, maybe make a few suggestions, and then I would be done in a month. Two tops. That was seven years ago. Since then I have spent countless hours unpacking my anxiety and depression, understanding these demons of mine better.
And while I haven’t seen a therapist consistently over the last seven years, there have been years off here or there, therapy has been a pretty common part of my schedule during that time. And I am thankful for that. Because my anxiety and depression are constantly trying to find new ways to take me down. Therapy helps me learn to manage those stressors and their impact on my mental illness.
I will highly recommend therapy to anyone who asks. It is not a sign of weakness, which is something we will talk about more next week, nor is continued participation in therapy a sign that you are ‘broken.’ Rather it is a tool that can help empower you, in the long run, to change some of the negative behaviors that may be caused by mental illness. But once again, it is no quick fix.