How Therapy Actually Works and 5 Myths about Therapy Debunked

Erin Frey
Erin Frey
Apr 27, 2017 · 8 min read
  • Therapy is not for me–it’s for people with serious mental health issues.
  • Talking to someone about my problems won’t help me.
  • I can fix the problem myself.
  • Once I start going to therapy, I’ll have to go forever.

What is therapy?

Therapy is a scientifically proven process that teaches you how your mind works. It helps you navigate your feelings, build better behaviors, and relate to your thoughts differently so you can live the life you want. Therapists who use clinically-proven techniques like Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) work with you to set goals, track progress, and measure results. They teach you skills to build emotional resilience so you can eventually leave therapy and manage on your own. Therapy is a high-value–but temporary–investment in yourself.

Myth: Therapy doesn’t work.

For all the good therapy does for people, it certainly has a bad rap.

Myth: I don’t need therapy–I can fix it on my own.

At some point, you have experienced stress, felt anxious, overwhelmed, sad, or depressed. No one is immune to these common, human conditions. Sometimes, we can work these issues out on our own by changing our lifestyles, reading books, taking classes, or through talking with friends, family members, or mentors. Other times, we notice patterns that we haven’t been able to change on our own, or issues start to overwhelm us and negatively affect our lives, relationships, and work. In severe cases, anxiety, depression, and stress can put our health and lives at risk.

Myth: Therapy is for people with serious mental health issues. I’m not broken enough to go.

Therapy is obviously useful in severe situations, but it’s also incredibly valuable as a method to treat moderate conditions and build positive mental health habits. If you approach mental health with a preventative care mindset, you can catch and treat downward trends in your emotional well-being before they become bigger problems.

  • When your mental health is causing physical harm (e.g., you’re binging; you’re suicidal)
  • When your time is valuable and you need to improve your performance quickly to meet professional goals (e.g. you’re a founder; performance issues put your job at risk)

Myth: It’s a waste of time to lay on a couch, talk about my feelings, and replay my childhood.

Therapy gives you a safe space to talk freely and process your emotions, but a good therapist doesn’t listen just to make you feel heard. They’re looking for patterns in how your mind works and how they can help you make it work better. Therapy should involve learning skills and building tools to manage your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. Talking about your feelings is simply part of the process.

Myth: Once you start therapy, you have to go forever.

Good therapy has an end date. Therapy can be temporary because it teaches you tools that last forever. A good therapist wants you to get better and leave therapy, and will teach you skills so that you can ‘be your own therapist’ when you’re on your own.

Kip Blog

The official blog of We’re building the future of therapy and sharing tips, resources, and updates along the way.

Erin Frey

Written by

Erin Frey

Cofounder at Not your average therapy service. Y Combinator W16. Yale ‘08.

Kip Blog

Kip Blog

The official blog of We’re building the future of therapy and sharing tips, resources, and updates along the way.