What isn’t therapy?

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Mental health therapy can be a variety of things, but here are a few things that it is not:

  • A quick fix. The therapist can’t do all the work. This isn’t like getting a shot or taking a pill and then you’re “cured.” Therapists help as a guide and a support so that you can work on yourself. It’s a collaboration, not a one-and-done treatment.
  • “Tell me about your childhood.” You probably recognize this quote as something psychoanalysis pioneer Sigmund Freud might say to a new patient as they lie on a couch staring at the ceiling. Although psychoanalysis does explore childhood history and parental relationships to understand someone’s deeper motivations, therapy does not require you to lie on a couch and talk about your childhood.
  • Advice. Your therapist will most likely make observations rather than give advice. One main goal of therapy is to ensure that you’re seen and heard. A great therapist will listen more than give advice.
  • Coaching. Life coaches and professional coaches have a specific way to motivate people to reach their goals — and that does not usually include psychotherapy or counseling. Therapists are licensed professionals who have been through years of training to help you with the specific mental health problems you are experiencing. Whereas coaches may help you create plans, therapists can help you understand yourself, plan, heal, and grow.
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