5 Therapy Myths and Fears Busted

While millions of people are comfortable seeking help from a psychologist, psychiatrist, or other counselor, others--maybe you included--would rather pass a kidney stone than make an appointment with a therapist. This week, the Savvy Psychologist helps you (or someone you love) get over 5 common myths and fears about therapy.

Ellen Hendriksen, PhD
7-minute read
Episode #28

Barrier #2: It’s Too Expensive 

This is a big one.  Consider these 5 options to get you through the door without breaking the bank:

  • If you have health insurance, you might be covered for psychotherapy and/or substance abuse treatment.  Most health insurance plans, including Medicaid managed care plans, are required to follow the federal parity law and provide mental health coverage.  Call your insurance company and ask what your behavioral health coverage includes.  While you’re at it, ask them for a list of psychologists in your area who take your plan.
  • See if your employer has an Employee Assistance Program, or EAP, available as part of your benefits. In general, EAPs offer short-term counseling for employees and immediate family, including help with drug or alcohol abuse, emotional distress (like depression or anxiety), stress management, debt counseling, non-work-related legal issues, and more. They’re pre-paid by your employer, which makes services free to you, and they’re confidential—information about your use of an EAP cannot be disclosed without permission from you.
  • To go the private practice route, search online for "sliding scale psychotherapy" or “sliding scale psychologist” to find practitioners who charge based on your income rather than a set fee.
  • Search out a clinic run by a psychology graduate training program. Most student clinics charge low or sliding scale fees and are staffed by Ph.D., Psy.D., or Master's students. All students are supervised by licensed professionals, so you're actually getting a two-for-one deal. Look on the psychology department website of universities in your area, or try searching online for “school of professional psychology.”
  • Dial 211 or search for “211” online. 211 connects you to human services in your area that may include drug and alcohol services, food and shelter referrals, elder services, and more.

Barrier #3: But I’m Not Crazy!

Many folks worry that going to therapy means they’re "crazy" or "out of control."  In reality, people go to therapy for all sorts of reasons: personal growth, coaching through a rough patch, to get a neutral outside perspective, to optimize their life, to change a habit, and many more. Most importantly, they go because they want to make a change, but don’t know how to start.

If perceived stigma is standing between a loved one and treatment, you may wish to frame therapy as lessons, coaching, consultation, or skills training. Indeed, most therapists worth their salt treat therapy like a one-on-one class, complete with homework. Lying on couches is a thing of the past, and no one wearing tie-dye and smelling of patchouli will clasp your hand and ask, “How does that make you feel?” More likely, a friendly professional will ask questions about symptoms, help you challenge ineffective ways of thinking and acting, and teach you some new skills.  No incense or straightjackets necessary.


Medical Disclaimer
All content here is for informational purposes only. This content does not replace the professional judgment of your own mental health provider. Please consult a licensed mental health professional for all individual questions and issues.

About the Author

Ellen Hendriksen, PhD

Dr. Ellen Hendriksen is a clinical psychologist at Boston University's Center for Anxiety and Related Disorders (CARD). She earned her Ph.D. at UCLA and completed her training at Harvard Medical School. Her scientifically-based, zero-judgment approach is regularly featured in Psychology Today, Scientific American, The Huffington Post, and many other media outlets.