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Common Myths About Couples Therapy

There are many situations in which seeing a therapist would be helpful. If you and your spouse keep getting in the same argument over and over again, or find yourself in a situation you can't get beyond, therapy can be extremely useful.

A therapist can help you uncover issues you have that might be interfering with your relationship.

All of the common issues that may come up in a marriage—money, sex, housework, extended family, parenting, work, relocation, aging parents, second marriages, illness, addiction, and infidelity—can lead to conflicts that a therapist can help you resolve. The biggest challenge in therapy is getting over the hurdle of admitting you need help.

Think Twice

Don't think you have failed because you turn to a therapist for help. You have been successful by recognizing you need help and going out and getting it.

Ten Common Myths People Have About Therapy

Many people don't seek help from a therapist because they have concerns about therapists and therapy. They have preconceived notions about who sees a therapist or what a therapist can or can't do. The following are some common myths that people have about therapy and therapists.

  • Myth #1: Only Crazy People See Therapists

Reality: A wide range of people see therapists. Many people who are in therapy are healthy, balanced, highly successful, have responsible jobs, and make a good living. They are seeing a therapist to work through a specific problem or to figure out why they are not happier with their success. Other common reasons for people to see a therapist are to get help with depression or anxiety.

  • Myth #2: Someone Who Doesn't Know Me Can't Help Me

Reality: The fact that a therapist doesn't know you is exactly why he or she can help you! The therapy process depends on the therapist being unbiased. Therapy is a special situation where an impartial, neutral person helps you sort through your issues so you can go on to be more productive and happy in your daily life.

  • Myth #3: Therapists Can Read People's Minds

Reality: Therapists can't read people's minds. Therapists are professionally trained to listen carefully and pay special attention to people's emotions.

  • Myth #4: A Therapist Can Solve All of Your Problems

Reality: A therapist won't solve your problems. Rather, a therapist will help you solve your problems. If you want to grow from therapy, it will take a lot of work on your part.

Marriage Q & A's

Q: If my spouse and I see a couples therapist, does that mean we are heading toward a divorce?

A: Absolutely not. It means that the two of you are ready and willing to work on improving your relationship. You will likely understand yourselves and each other better, which will lead to a better partnership. If you had difficult problems and didn't see a therapist, that in fact could lead to divorce.

  • Myth #5: A Couples Therapist Will Take Sides

Reality: This is not true. A good couples therapist will remain neutral and help the two of you resolve your differences. At the end of each session, each of you should feel your point of view was heard and understood.

  • Myth #6: Therapists Never Say Anything

Reality: Most therapists, especially those who work with couples, are very interactive. They will listen carefully, ask you questions, and talk with you during all of your sessions.

  • Myth #7: Therapy Takes Forever

Reality: Short-term therapy, which can be extremely useful for couples, generally lasts between eight and twenty sessions, one session each week. It tends to be goal-directed and focuses on specific issues and problems. On the other hand, long-term therapy can last for one year or more. It tends to be psychodynamically oriented, which means it helps you understand your personal character development.

  • Myth #8: Everyone Will Know I'm Seeing a Therapist

Reality: A therapist will maintain your confidentiality and will not tell others what was discussed in your therapy sessions. The only people who will know you are seeing a therapist are the ones you tell. Often people who find therapy beneficial want to share this with others.

Think Twice

Don't forget the price of breaking up a marriage is costly, both emotionally and financially. Therapy is an investment that usually pays off in the long run.

  • Myth #9: Therapy Is Unaffordable

Reality: There is no question that therapy with a private therapist is expensive. However, many people overlook the fact that their medical insurance will cover a limited number of therapy sessions for “crisis intervention.” Short-term couples therapy can be incredibly productive. There are also therapists-in-training and family service agencies who see patients on a sliding scale.

  • Myth #10: Only Weak People See Therapists

Reality: Actually, the opposite is true! It takes a strong person to go to a therapist. When you see a therapist, he or she will give you tools to become even stronger and more able to work through your issues.

Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to the Perfect Marriage © 2001 by Hilary Rich and Helaina Laks Kravitz, M.D. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

To order this book visit the Idiot's Guide web site or call 1-800-253-6476.


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