6 Myths About Therapy

Posted October 25, 2022 by Anusha ‐ 3 min read

Misguided notions about what really goes on in a practicing psychotherapist’s office often come from novels or television. Psychotherapists are often portrayed as incompetent hacks, more disturbed than their clients. Some scenes are good, some bad, and others downright comical. There are numerous myths about psychotherapy that continue to show up in the written word, on the screen, and in the workplace.

Myth : Therapists sit behind desks taking notes while you lie on a couch.


  • This is rarely the case.

  • Trained clinicians know that the arrangement and distance between them and the client are critical for a safe and workable therapeutic alliance.

  • Psychological or physical separation from the client can create subtle authority and intimidation and an inability on the client’s part to fully connect and disclose information pertinent to treatment.

  • The typical therapeutic setting is much like your living room where both parties sit in comfortable chairs without barriers between them.

  • Good therapists often ask if the distance is comfortable and refrain from taking notes until after the session so they can be present with clients.

Myth : Psychotherapy is mostly just talk.


  • Therapy isn’t passive.

  • Scenes in novels and TV shows where therapists just listen to clients vent, nod their heads in approval, and mirror back the same words are stereotypes.

  • Are those cases in fiction where therapists interpret clients’ experiences for them instead of eliciting a client’s own interpretations.

  • With today’s cutting-edge therapies, clinicians are trained in experiential and therapist-led modalities that engage both parties in an interactive collaborative process based on dialogue and the client’s active engagement in joint problem-solving.

  • Together psychotherapists and clients identify problems, set goals, and monitor progress sometimes with homework and reading assignments as part of the process.

Myth : Psychotherapists have ready-made solutions for all of life’s problems.


  • What is important in establishing the therapist-client alliance is not what the therapist thinks is important to bring about change but what the client thinks is important.

  • A good therapist tailors treatment sessions around the needs of clients instead of plugging clients into ready-made formulas.

  • In so doing, clinicians listen not just to the content of the story but for deeper themes and patterns that undergird the stories.

  • This allows the professional to mirror feedback based on these emerging themes and patterns that can facilitate change, not just the repetitive words and phrases that clients supply.

Myth : Psychotherapists blame a client’s problem on their upbringing.


  • Despite the theatric antics of Dr. Phil, a well-trained therapist doesn’t blame or shame.

  • They don’t blame clients or their parents.

  • They bring an objective, bird’s-eye perspective to help clients see the water they’re swimming in and allow them to take responsibility for their lives.

  • Professional therapists never admonish, blame, or shame clients into change.

Myth : Psychotherapists can prescribe medication.


  • This is a common myth.

  • The term psychotherapist is a broad umbrella that includes licensed social workers, licensed marriage and family therapists, licensed practicing counselors, and licensed psychologists.

  • Although this practice has changed in some states, generally speaking, psychotherapists are trained in the skill of helping clients work through their problems.

  • Psychiatrists are medical doctors who usually limit their practices to prescribing and monitoring psychotropic medications while working with psychotherapists who conduct the therapy itself.

Myth : Psychotherapy can solve problems in one or two sessions.


  • While convenient for the novel or television show to have a character fixed in a session or two, it doesn’t work that way in real life.
  • The average session is around 50 to 60 minutes and the first session is basically an intake and getting acquainted session. To get to the heart of a problem, psychotherapy takes many more sessions over time.
  • On the flip side, as in The Sopranos, psychotherapy rarely takes six or seven years.
  • Generally speaking, something’s not working when a client works with the same therapist for excessively long periods of time.
  • The average therapy course is three to four months.
myths facts therapy

Subscribe For More Content