Prejudices and myths about psychologist
A PERSON WHO GOES TO A PSYCHOLOGIST IS A FOOL
How many times have we heard ‘If someone goes to a psychologist, he must be crazy!?’
Too many times!
In the past, it was commonly believed that the psychologist was the doctor of the ‘fool’, and of those that had a screw loose.
Fortunately, with the wider dissemination of proper information, education and culture, the perception and role of the psychologist is now changing.
A psychologist not only helps people who suffer from mental disorders but can also help even those who are ‘normal’ and want to make some positive changes in their life. This includes those who want to make a journey of knowledge within themesleves, and those who need to be supported during time of emotional difficulty so they can overcome the crisis and emerge strengthened and whole again.
I AM WHAT I AM AND I CAN NOT CHANGE
There are people who believe they are made in a certain way and that it is not possible to change their behavior. In fact, there is much supporting evidence that a person is responsible for any act and has the ability to change their behavior. Of course it can be difficult sometimes but it is possible to learn to regulate actions both on their own and even more effectively with the help of a psychologist.
NOBODY UNDERSTANDS ME
Many people do not believe that their emotional difficulties and grief can be understood by relatives, acquaintances, and surely not by a psychologist who is a stranger and does not know them.
How does a psychologist (who may not have had the same experience of life of the person who addresses him) understand what this person feels? The psychologist has undertaken long and vigorous studies to be able to deal with situations and different problems posed by clients.
A professional psychologist has worked on their empathy, and has practiced putting themself in someone else’s shoes. They have been trained to refrain from judgment and to be neutral to try to see the person for who they are and listen closely to what they say.
A PERSON WHO GOES TO A PSYCHOLOGIST IS ‘WEAK’ AND ‘DOESN’T KNOW HOW TO MANAGE LIFE’
Very often it is possible to hear people say that they don’t go to a psychologist ‘because those who go to a psychologist are weak, while they are strong and can manage their problems alone.’
Although it is legitimate to try to independently face difficulties encountered in life, if after several attempts a person has not been able to solve the problem, there is nothing wrong with contacting a qualified professional in order to ask for help. It is actually a responsible and courageous thing to do. In fact, accepting that we sometimes need the help of a psychologist does not mean being weak, it simply means they are able to recognize their personal limits and to take active responsibility for themselves.
THE PSYCHOLOGIST MANIPULATES YOUR MIND
The psychologist, a professional member of the Board, for sensitivity and ethics must respect the beliefs, opinions, and the autonomy of their patients. It does not impose its system of values and does not use their profession to inappropriately influence their power over others (Art. 2, Code of Ethics of Psychologists).
On the contrary, a psychologist helps their client to understand themself and the others around them thus allowing them to become stronger and less likely to be manipulated.
IF YOU START GOING TO A PSYCHOLOGIST, YOU WILL BE THERE FOR YEARS!
There are various types of interventions that follow both the need of the client and the approach of the psychologist (or therapist) and the original agreement between the two. There may be psychological counseling (which can last a few meetings), short interventions (typically lasting a few months), and long ones (lasting a few years).
GOING TO A PSYCHOLOGIST IS EXPENSIVE
Many people think that it is too expensive to go to a psychologist. There are differences in prices and situations. You can go to a psychologist through the National Health Service, in accredited private clinics or in private practice, where there may be varying rates.
WHY PAY SOMEONE WHEN I CAN TELL MY PROBLEMS TO A FRIEND FOR FREE?
Often people tend to ask why they should pay a psychologist rather than chat with a good friend.
Various reasons can be helpful in answering this question:
- With a friend you can talk about nearly everything but not EVERYTHING because there can be very intimate things that you cannot tell a friend.
- With friends you share an affective relationship and this may mean that you should avoid saying things that might upset them, hurt them or cause damage to the friendship. Instead, talking to a psychologist can be advantageous as you do not have to worry about what you say and you can even get more objectivity. For a friend it ‘s very difficult to be objective in every situation, because there are things that might alarm them and things they could find difficult to understand, or which they already have a preconceived opinion on.
- A friend, in general, does not have the tools and skills (such as scientific knowledge of mental processes) which the psychologist has as part of their profession.
- Paying a psychologist involves an investment that makes you take your mental health and well-being seriously and that leads to being focused on the path and on the work you do to improve yourself. Also it means that the psychologist, as part of his work, is totally focused on you and will not, as it can happen with a friend, wander in their thoughts and concerns.
In conclusion, it can help talking with a friend, but in many situations it may be useful to talk to a professional trained to listen and understand the problem at hand.
WHEN YOU GO TO A PSYCHOLOGIST, YOU JUST SPEAK, YOU DON’T DO ANYTHING
‘Facts count, not words’ is one of the most widespread idioms in our society and also embodies the idea that talking does not solve problems, as if only tangible things effect our daily life.
Talking can be an important vehicle to change the meaning we give to the world around us and our behavior. It also helps in clarifying feelings and attitudes toward things in life. In other words, talking is an important tool in breaking down and reorganizing our construction of reality.
YOU ARE A PSYCHOLOGIST … ARE YOU ANALYSING ME RIGHT NOW?!
I don’t think there are many psychologists in the world who have never had this question. Sometimes it is expressed in a joking playful tone, and sometimes in a tone of genuine concern.
To think that a psychologist spends all his day analyzing others is one of the most common false beliefs regarding this profession. A psychologist does not read the minds of others, and does not have the gift of omniscience, they are just human beings. In order to be able to understand their client or an individual, they still need to get to know them and have them discuss their issues.
A psychologist is a professional who knows when the correct place and time of analysis and observation of others is and when it is not appropriate. It is not over a glass of wine or a plate of pasta where this work takes place. Moreover, as in other professions there is a time to work and time to rest, and this is the same for a pyschologist.