Conquering Worry or Stigma About Going to Therapy

Written by Andrew Gorrill

Many people worry about what it will mean or how it will look to others if they go to therapy. There’s a lot of stigma out there about therapy.

Here are a number of things that going to therapy does not mean.

“You have serious mental problems”

Going to therapy doesn’t mean you have serious mental problems. For people who do suffer from serious mental illness, therapy is certainly necessary, and they should be applauded for seeking it. But the majority of people in therapy don’t have a serious mental illness, and many have no diagnosed mental illness at all.

The most common reasons people go to therapy are to address life challenges or significant life changes.

“You’re weak”

Going to therapy takes courage and dedication—courage to admit that you could use help, and dedication to follow through on the process. Going to therapy is a demonstration of inner strength.

“You’re in crisis”

People go to therapy for all kinds of reasons; often, it’s to work on goals for themselves and deal with challenges in their lives. Someone doesn’t need to be in crisis to go to therapy, and, in fact, therapy can help to avoid crises.

“You’re wasting money”

Some people think it’s silly to spend money on mental health, but look at some of the other things people commonly spend money on—gym memberships, physical trainers, exercise equipment, and medical care for physical ailments.

Why should your mental health be less important than your physical? Think of going to a therapist as hiring a trainer for your mind.

Look at it from another angle: therapy as an investment. You might save to go someplace special on vacation, and feel it well worth the money—often quite a lot of money. Wouldn’t it be worth an investment to help yourself be calmer and happier on that vacation? Come to think of it, wouldn’t it be worth an investment to help yourself be calmer and happier all the time? Therapy is an investment in your mental health and your happiness.

“It won’t work”

It’s true that seeing a therapist isn’t a magic pill. It will take time to see an effect, and you may see less effect than you’d hoped. But, in a poll conducted in 2004, an estimated 59 million people had sought therapy in the past two years, and 80% found it effective. Those are pretty good numbers.

“You’ll be in therapy forever”

Therapy doesn’t take forever. It’s not an immediate process, but depending on what a person is seeking to address through therapy, they might accomplish what they need in just a few sessions.

Progress in therapy is often made within three months. But more complicated issues may take longer, even years.

The type of therapy makes a difference, too. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy tends to be shorter-term than many methods, while psychoanalysis or relational therapy tends to take longer. Regardless of the type of therapy you seek, the more work you put in during and between sessions, the faster you’ll make progress.

Some people do stay in therapy for years, because they find that it’s a part of their life that they value and enjoy. Often, clients will see a therapist weekly or monthly at first, but after a while will come in less frequently, perhaps once every few months. Some people continue to visit their therapists once or twice a year, just to check in and talk about any new issues that have come up or old ones that have resurfaced.


In a given year, around one in every four people experience a mental health issue. Seeking treatment doesn’t mean you’re unique because you’re affected by a mental health issue; it means you’re unique because you’re doing something about it.

About the Author
Andrew has a diverse background, ranging from Chinese language and culture to organic agriculture. He occupies a variety of roles at UpLift, including customer service and project management.