The Biggest Misconception About Psychotherapy

Written by David Shrank on . Posted in Health & Wellness

The most common reason people seek a psychotherapist or clinical social worker is to “fix” their problems — a few meetings with an expert, and their problems will be solved, they think. Nothing is further from the truth when it comes to psychotherapy. The job of a good psychotherapist is to understand one’s clients and point out areas in which they can become more self-aware, and hopefully this leads them to make internal changes.


Psychotherapy is about self-discovery. It’s about getting relief from issues that cause psychological pain while addressing those issues at the source. Most people feel that their problems will heal with time. When they don’t, they seek a psychotherapist to tell them what to do in order to stop this mental and emotional pain. They don’t realize that by the time they see a psychotherapist, their issues have exhibited themselves in so many ways that it can take time to alleviate the current pain and determine its source. Very often, when a client believes they have found the source, they actually must go much deeper to find the real source of the mental and emotional pain, which can take tremendous work and constant self-discovery.

A good therapist will guide a client through his or her deepest inner secrets in order to uncover various issues that have manifested themselves into larger difficulties over time. Only by discovering one’s core difficulties can a person fully alleviate and grow beyond them.

This process can also happen over an extended period of time. It is not expected that a person will stay in therapy continuously for years. It is common to see a psychotherapist for a year or two and then take a year or two off before going back to therapy. While taking a break from therapy, you should still maintain constant awareness to continue learning about yourself.

It can also be helpful to be aware of others and what behaviors bother you in others. You should learn more about why you are upset or annoyed by someone else instead of putting the blame immediately on the other individual. The more self-aware you are — both internally and in relation to your environment — the more effective psychotherapy will be and the more control you will have over your anxiety, depression, and any other emotions you may experience.

Those who see a psychotherapist to be “fixed” will not find success. Those who go to a psychotherapist to be told what to do to get better won’t necessarily find their answer. Those who seek psychotherapy to better understand and discover themselves, which will provide insight into how to address their issues, will find success. If you begin seeking therapy with a psychotherapist for the wrong reasons, a good therapist will effectively lead you to the right path, guiding you to success. It’s still your job to make use of psychotherapy effectively. No one should fear their issues. Instead, be open to understanding and improving upon them.

By David Shrank

 David Shrank, MSW, LCSW-C, LICSW is the founder and CEO of Empowerment Behavioral Therapeutic Services ( He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or by phone at 240-565-2558.