What is the biggest myth about therapy

Cleaned Up: The Eight Biggest Myths About Psychological Aid

This hesitation is of course not completely unfounded, after all, thoughts and feelings are somehow more personal than tooth decay and flu viruses. “I'm not crazy!”, “They won't get me brainwashed like this!” Or “Just because I'm often sad, I don't run to the shrink!” In the following article we want to dispel these clichés about psychological help .

Myth # 1: "I need therapy right away when I see a psychologist."

Psychotherapy is a possibility of psychological help. There are also a large number of advice centers that you can turn to with acute problems or questions. Professional psychologists can advise you on site or anonymously over the phone, or you can be referred to other offices that can offer you support. Such advice is often only a one-time contact that helps to find the right help.

No. 2: "I have to go to the couch"

The image of the couch holds steadfast. Its founder Sigmund Freud used this famous piece of furniture at the time as part of his psychoanalytic therapy, in which it was important that the patients could not see the face of the therapist so that his reactions did not influence his own storytelling. And that's where the crux of the matter lies. Such a couch on which the patient lies was or is important in a very specific form of therapy. However, there are numerous therapeutic methods available today. The “big” procedures are analytical, depth psychology and behavioral psychotherapy. These three are recognized and covered by the health insurance. With these as well as with the numerous other forms of psychotherapeutic help, a couch is only what it is in our living room: a piece of furniture on which guests are offered a seat.

No. 3: "In the end I'll be put in an asylum"

Psychotherapy only takes place on an inpatient basis, i.e. in a clinic, in very special cases. These cases are usually characterized by the fact that there is an enormous risk for the patients at home or that they endanger their environment due to their illness. In the case of very pronounced anorexia (anorexia), for example, inpatient therapy can occur if the person concerned no longer eats food without the controlled environment of a clinic. If patients are so weakened that they can no longer cope with everyday life, inpatient therapy can be an opportunity. Patients who play with suicidal thoughts and have already forged concrete plans are often given to the protected environment of a clinic for self-protection. If you want to get therapeutic help, you don't have to expect a stay in a clinic. After all, most everyday problems are best solved right there: in everyday life.

No. 4: "The best thing is to give me a few tablets that will bend me back up"

In general, there are some mental disorders that can be treated with medication. Most of the time, however, these drugs are only one aspect of the treatment. After three weeks of stomach ache, you wouldn't be satisfied with just taking painkillers, you would want to get to the bottom of the matter. For example, patients with panic attacks are prescribed emergency tranquilizers, but an equally important aspect of treatment is clarifying the cause of the panic and eliminating the factors so that no further attacks occur in the first place.
In addition, drugs are not prescribed in psychotherapy with a psychotherapist. Medicines can only be moved in Germany by people with medical training. Who then prescribes antidepressants, sedatives and the like? The counterpart to psychological training in medicine is the psychiatrist. Psychiatrists have completed a medical degree and are therefore allowed to prescribe drugs such as psychotropic drugs. Often psychiatrists have also completed training as a psychotherapist.

No. 5: "Therapy lasts forever"

Therapy can take a long time. Therapy can also be over after a few hours. That is precisely the nice thing about the principle of so-called “client-centered psychotherapy”: it is based on your needs. When patients feel safe again and can cope with everyday life on their own, it is time to stop therapy. At the same time, that doesn't mean that it is over overnight and you have never been seen again. Gradual termination can be helpful in some situations.

No. 6: "I can deal with my problems myself. Only crazy people have to go to therapy"

Have you ever tried to deal with a broken leg yourself? Your first tax return written without any help? Repairing your broken laptop yourself without the advice of a technical expert?
We often imagine that we have to deal with everything we carry around ourselves. But why should we? If a problem arises that we can solve ourselves: Great! If our friends, family or colleagues can give us good advice and help us over the problem: That's good too! But what if somehow nobody really knows what's going on? Not even ourselves? Wouldn't it be great then to have someone by your side who has studied specifically to know how to find out what's going on and then even help us to solve the problem? That’s not why we’re crazy or sick or disturbed. We have problems. And we have the courage to tackle these problems.

No. 7: "Just talking doesn't help anything"

That's actually true. Talking over and over again about your problem does help, but only in a few cases does it lead to a solution. Conversations in psychotherapy are therefore often designed in such a way that they lead to proposed solutions that are then trained. Talking to a neutral person can often help you become aware of new ideas for solutions. The therapist also helps to try out these ideas, to look at them critically and to evaluate whether they help one personally.

No. 8: "The therapist squeezes me and interprets everything I say"

A therapist is not interested in adding as many disorders as possible to his patients without the patient noticing. His goal is to make his patients feel better after the treatment. In order to achieve that, he will ask a lot. After all, he first has to know what he's dealing with. You can feel like you want to know everything about you, but would you prefer the therapist not to be interested in you at all?


A consultation or therapy is always a process that is designed from two sides, so the patient is always involved in what the therapist notices. If something is wrong, has been misunderstood or is not formulated appropriately, the patient always gets the chance to put it right. Nevertheless, it can of course be that the therapist is unsympathetic to you and the chemistry is wrong, you may feel uncomfortable or misunderstood. Then you shouldn't hesitate to speak up and change therapists if necessary.

It is certainly an important step to open up to someone stranger and to talk about personal things, experiences and thoughts. It takes courage. But many of those affected are pleasantly surprised. Therapists are only human too. Namely people who have learned to support us with being human when that is difficult for us.

Download PDF