Therapy Myths Busted (Part 1)

Personal Coach and Corporate Trainer Tasneem Kagalwalla shares her journey. She shares some common therapy myths that may be preventing people from seeking the professional help and support they need.

My journey in the world of self-improvement and therapy began years ago purely based on necessity. It is common for life coaches and therapists to have started out for themselves. It was true for me.

I didn’t stumble upon it. Eager friends did not introduce it to me over a breezy afternoon. There was no bolt of lightning that struck me in a dream and told me this is what I was meant to do. No!

For me, it was not a magical initiation.

I was going through a rough patch in my life. It was as if I had lost control of how I chose to live. I was remote-controlled by my circumstances, feeling lonely, low, and lost in the maze of life.

Mental health challenges affect millions of people around the world. Unfortunately, misconceptions about therapy not only discourage people from seeking help but also contribute to the stigma surrounding these issues. Many people have a perception of what therapy is that does not quite match up to reality.

What is therapy to you?

Is it lying on a couch with a box of issues and paying top dollars to talk to someone who does not seem to quite get it? Or more like a reality TV show where you are openly and publicly blamed and shamed, as you are confronted? If so, please think again. Therapy is not that.

In this series to share facts and raise awareness, we will address some of the most common therapy myths. The truth will set you free.

Myth #1 Therapy means I am weak, less of a man/woman, mentally ill or crazy

Asking for help is not a weakness.

Think of these other scenarios. Are people “weak” when they pay for tuition classes to improve academically? What about when they are sick, maybe with a cough of a cold? Are they weak to see the GP? It is not a weakness to recognize that certain areas of our well-being are less than what we’d like and we need professional help.

Researchers continue to find new links emphasizing the value of taking equal, if not more, care of mental health to ensure good physical health. This is often referred to as the mind-body health connection.

Emotional challenges can show up as physical symptoms. When we are physically unwell over prolonged periods of time, we may also develop emotional issues. Sadly, having emotional or cognitive concerns is often seen as a moral failing or character flaw.

Men are especially stereotyped, making it harder for them to seek help. Men don’t cry. Men don’t talk about feelings. Men need to have it all figured out. This is what we have been taught.

Seeking help for your problems means you are taking action and being responsible. It is gender-neutral. Asking for help can require more courage than remaining passive. Getting help is actually a sign of resourcefulness and strength.

Many people who seek therapy are “normal” people, people like you and me, suffering from very “normal” everyday life stressors. We all face difficult times, anxiety, and even depression at some point or another. People go to therapy to cope with school, careers, relationships, disorders, stress, and grief or just to figure out who they are and learn to live the life they desire, to live life to the fullest. Sometimes people see therapists to seek an outside perspective of a difficult situation.

Consider this – if therapy did not help better lives significantly, why would top athletes, successful executives, and celebrities have coaches, mentors, and other such professionals? The bottom line is that there is no shame in wanting a better life.

One day, there I was, reluctantly attending a family get-together. As everyone enthusiastically smiled for the camera, I barely managed a feeble smile. A week later, when a copy of the group photo was mailed to us, I sat there looking at the person in the picture. I was stunned. Is that really me? I could not recognize who I had become. It was then a small voice in my head said, “You are everything you choose to be.”

I chose that day to salvage myself and reclaim my life. And I did! I learned and tried every new theory, therapy, and home remedy suggested to me. Committed to the journey of self-discovery and improvement, I left no stone unturned. Today, I am here simply asking you this – are you everything you choose to be?