How Do You Address a Specific Common Misconception?


    How Do You Address a Specific Common Misconception?

    Dismantling myths in the field of psychology is crucial for understanding the true nature of the profession. We've gathered insights from eleven esteemed professionals, including licensed clinical psychologists and school psychologists, to address common misconceptions. From the belief that therapists simply give advice to the notion that psychology is only about abnormal behavior, our experts shed light on the realities of their work.

    • Therapists Guide, Not Advise
    • Therapy Demonstrates Strength
    • Clarifying Organizational Psychology
    • Psychologists Emphasize Resilience
    • Forensic Psychologists' Unique Role
    • Psychologists Experience Emotions Too
    • Psychologists Don't Read Minds
    • Seek Help Before Overwhelmed
    • Set Realistic Therapy Expectations
    • Psychology Is More Than Abnormal Behavior
    • Focus on Present, Not Just Past

    Therapists Guide, Not Advise

    One misconception about the psychology profession is that your psychologist or therapist is going to give you advice or tell you what to do. It can be quite frustrating for people who have these expectations when they enter therapy. Rather, our role as your therapist is to help you connect with your own self-knowledge, as most of the time we *know* what to do, but a barrier stands in our way. A therapist will help guide you through that barrier and teach you how to trust your own problem-solving skills and intuition. It can be really helpful to manage expectations regarding therapy and the therapist's role from the outset of therapy.

    Kylie SligarLicensed Clinical Psychologist & Co-Owner, All In Bloom Therapy

    Therapy Demonstrates Strength

    One common myth about the psychology profession is that seeking therapy is a sign of weakness or failure. The truth is that seeking therapy can be a powerful demonstration of strength and resilience, rooted in courage and self-awareness. When individuals engage in therapy, they show a willingness to confront their challenges, acknowledging the importance of working through difficult emotions and past experiences. Being vulnerable is risky and involves opening up and sharing one's private thoughts and feelings with a therapist, requiring strength and trust in another person they don't know well.

    Moreover, seeking therapy reflects a proactive approach to mental health and well-being, showcasing a commitment to personal growth and a desire to improve one's quality of life. Through perseverance, individuals can develop emotional intelligence, cultivate self-awareness, and learn effective coping strategies to navigate life's challenges. By seeking help through therapy, clients have a pathway towards personal insight, growth, and resilience, enabling individuals to take control of their mental health and work towards a more fulfilling and balanced life. Therefore, therapy isn't a sign of weakness and failure, but rather a sign of strength and accomplishment.

    Nick Bach
    Nick BachOwner and Psychologist, Grace Psychological Services, LLC

    Clarifying Organizational Psychology

    I am an organizational psychologist. If I had a dollar for every time I’ve needed to explain what that entails, I might not need my full-time job. A common misconception is that organizational psychology is mainly about Human Resources services and recruitment. I address this with humor and style by creating and posting videos on my social accounts. These videos explain what organizational psychologists do, our main fields of expertise, and who we work with, among other topics. I love sharing my insights in this engaging and fun way. There's nothing wrong with not knowing something; the real issue is not sharing your knowledge.

    Zoe Fragou
    Zoe FragouOrganizational Psychologist, Zoe Fragou

    Psychologists Emphasize Resilience

    As a psychologist, one common misconception I encounter is the belief that psychologists are solely focused on identifying and addressing problems. While it's true that we do help individuals navigate through challenges and difficulties, our approach extends beyond just problem-solving. A significant aspect of our work involves understanding an individual's strengths and resilience.

    Resilience refers to the ability to adapt and cope effectively with adversity, trauma, or stress. It's about bouncing back from difficult experiences and continuing to grow despite facing challenges. Psychologists are deeply interested in understanding how people develop resilience, as it provides valuable insights into their coping mechanisms and adaptive strategies.

    By exploring your strengths and resilience, psychologists aim to empower you to improve your ways of coping. We recognize that everyone possesses unique strengths and resources that can be harnessed to overcome obstacles and enhance well-being. This strengths-based approach shifts the focus from merely fixing problems to building on existing strengths and developing new skills for resilience.

    In therapy sessions, psychologists often work with clients to identify their strengths, whether they are personal qualities like determination and creativity or external supports like social connections and resources. By recognizing and amplifying these strengths, individuals can develop more effective coping strategies, increase their self-confidence, and experience greater overall resilience.

    While psychologists do address problems and challenges, our approach is holistic and inclusive of understanding and enhancing strengths and resilience. By embracing this comprehensive perspective, individuals can not only overcome difficulties but also cultivate resilience and thrive in the face of adversity.

    Rebbeca Lahann, Psy.D.
    Rebbeca Lahann, Psy.D.Psychologist and AASECT Certified Sex Therapist, Spectrum Psychology and Wellness

    Forensic Psychologists' Unique Role

    As a forensic psychologist, people are often confused by the work that we do at our practice. While working with most psychologists, the information discussed is confidential; however, when engaged with a forensic psychologist, the limitations to confidentiality are much different, and typically there is no confidential aspect of the meeting. As a psychologist who does not provide treatment, my meeting with individuals is unique in that there is no patient-doctor relationship, again emphasizing that there is no privileged information.

    People often hold a misconception that psychologists are here to help figure out an individual's problems, and while many psychologists can help guide you to finding the answers, forensic psychologists are typically answering questions for the court. With many misconceptions about the role of psychologists in different settings, it typically is best to address the expectations of the role of the psychologist at the onset of the meeting. For me, I spend a great deal of time providing education to my colleagues and the people that I work with so that they can understand how I will be working with them.

    Dr. Lisa Long
    Dr. Lisa LongLicensed Forensic Psychologist, Dr. Long & Associates

    Psychologists Experience Emotions Too

    Being a Sr. Counseling Psychologist, most often people think that because I am a psychologist myself, I never feel sad, hurt, angry, or experience any other emotions that normal people go through in their daily life. I address them by saying that I am a psychologist with a lot of emotions; I do feel all the emotions, as I am first a human being and then a psychologist. It's very important to understand that not being okay is also okay; we should learn how not to let our emotions overwhelm us and then allow our minds to control us.

    reena patel
    reena patelsr counselling psychologist

    Psychologists Don't Read Minds

    The most common misconception I come across in my practice is that I can 'read minds.' I address it by explaining that psychologists use scientific methods to understand thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. We do use a variety of tools and techniques to gather information, such as interviews, surveys, and psychometric assessment tools. Then, through observations and analysis of this information, we develop a better understanding of the person's mental state. While psychologists cannot read minds, we definitely are skilled at understanding people and their motivations.

    Syeda Arifa Tasneem
    Syeda Arifa TasneemClinical Psychologist, Recoup Health

    Seek Help Before Overwhelmed

    One common misconception that I frequently encounter is that individuals believe they can and should approach a psychologist only 'when the going gets unmanageable' rather than seeking support 'when the going gets tough'. This misconception often implies that individuals tend to exhaust their coping resources before seeking help from a psychologist and then expect quick solutions to their problems. To challenge this misconception, I engage in conversations about mental health, psychology, and therapy with people around me. Through these dialogues, I aim to raise awareness and encourage people to share their knowledge with others, fostering a more open and supportive community.

    Vaishali Chaudhary
    Vaishali ChaudharyCounselling Psychologist working in Sports

    Set Realistic Therapy Expectations

    One common misconception I frequently encounter in the psychology profession as a therapist is the belief that people who have never undergone therapy, or those who have but expect the therapist to do all the work for them, genuinely perceive therapy as ineffective. Many individuals assume that one or two therapy sessions should resolve all their concerns, regulate their emotions, and unravel all their struggles. When these expectations aren't met, people often become disappointed with the process and question the therapist's effectiveness and the reliability of therapy itself.

    One thing I consistently do is set realistic expectations at the onset of therapy, emphasizing that it is a step-by-step process that requires effort from both parties. While the therapist provides a supportive environment for clients to unwind and express themselves, facilitating clarity and perspective, clients must also apply their learnings in their daily lives. It's crucial for clients not to overly rely on the therapist for their overall well-being or expect overnight transformations.

    Architha Raj
    Architha RajCounselling Psychologist

    Psychology Is More Than Abnormal Behavior

    Psychologists are not only interested in abnormal behavior.

    While abnormal psychology is a field within psychology, many psychologists study normal human behavior and development. Positive psychology is a branch of psychology that flips the script on the traditional focus of mental health. Instead of solely addressing mental illness, it strives to understand and promote the factors that lead to human flourishing. Some of the core elements studied in positive psychology include:

    • Character strengths like kindness, gratitude, and optimism
    • Positive emotions like joy, contentment, and love
    • Meaning and purpose in life
    • Positive relationships with others
    • Engagement and finding flow in activities

    Masha Berardi
    Masha BerardiSchool Psychologist

    Focus on Present, Not Just Past

    People often think we will focus on their childhood. While this can be useful in some cases, we mostly focus on present issues and skills development to overcome them.

    Also, we don't ask our clients/patients to lie down. We often deliver our sessions virtually, or if we do our sessions face-to-face, we'll both be seated in normal positions.

    Dr Becky Richards
    Dr Becky RichardsLead Psychologist, Second Nature