For years, many people have taken for granted that going to the psychologist is something that should be embarrassing to recognize, something that must be hidden so that it is not exposed to the sight of others. however, the stigma of psychotherapy has faded until almost disappearing in most countries of Western culture.
The reason is that, like all stigma, it was based purely on misconceptions about this type of intervention in patients, and the passage of time has exposed these myths at demonized speed.
What is a stigma?
Much of the opinions we form about what surrounds us comes from what previous generations thought about this issue.
This is what it is to live immersed in a culture: that almost all the things we think are “borrowed” from others who thought them before us. For example, it is very good to believe that our attitude towards politics defines us as free-thinkers, but it is enough to think of abortion to realize that what has happened in the last centuries totally conditions how we are for or against this practice. .
For better or for worse, our psychological life is inherited from the psychological life that previously took place in the regions where we live or have come to live. And this is particularly noticeable in the case of the processes of stigma, which have done so much harm throughout history.
What is a stigma? From the point of view of sociology and social psychology, it consists of a series of negative connotations and unwanted emotional reactions arbitrarily associated with a group or activity. As an example of the stigmatization of groups, a clear case is that suffered by the Jews, and as an example of the stigmatization of activities, it can be found in professions considered unworthy and the exercise does not harm nobody, in particular.
This has happened for decades going to the psychologist, which until recently was seen as a symptom of weakness or total disconnection from reality.
Why does the myth of going to the psychologist disappear?
As we have seen, stigma is based on a mixture of ignorance and a predisposition to have reasons to discriminate against certain groups of people. There are no reasonable reasons to treat victims of stigma worse, but as there is a cultural tendency to do so (and sometimes even legal and institutional mechanisms) the flow is being followed, he imitates what others do and think, majorities with the power to discriminate.
Now … Why was there the stigma of going to the psychologist, but it has diminished rapidly in recent years? It’s hard to come up with a simple answer to this, but here we’re going to look at several factors that, as a professional psychologist, I believe have influenced.
1. Scientific support for psychotherapy
Psychotherapy has long since ceased to be based on experiments based on trial and error, to see if something happened to help patients by chance.
currently many basic psychological mechanisms that help weaken the behavior and thought patterns that make you suffer are known to people and can be operated on by psychotherapy. And we also know how to take advantage of these mechanisms not only to alleviate a large part of the discomfort, but to generate new sources of happiness by helping patients to integrate appropriate habits into their daily lives.
Obviously, it is not an exact science like math and there is room for uncertainty about what will work and what will not (as is the case with medicine applied to mental health), but decades of research in psychology allow us to rely on certain therapeutic strategies. and tools.
today, the type of psychological intervention with the greatest scientific evidence for its effectiveness is cognitive behavioral therapy, Current from which we come a large part of the psychologists of Spain.
2. Examples of celebrities going to the psychologist
It might sound silly, but just seeing people you admire and who have a very good national or international image come to the psychologist is more powerful than many PR campaigns.
In many cases, in addition, these famous people show no objection to saying that they have undergone or are undergoing psychotherapy; they understand that it is relevant information because they are people with a strong public life, and that it does not harm their image because they do not seek to portray an image of artificial perfection. This is the case for artists and athletes like Angelina Jolie, Andrés Iniesta, Sophie Turner, Leiva, and many others.
3. Word of mouth
Something that works cannot stay in the dark for long. The usefulness of psychotherapy has been passed on from person to person in the form of advice and recommendations, and many patients make other people with certain problems and needs aware that going to the psychologist is perfectly fine. logic.
4. The change of values
Not all the reasons why psychotherapy is well regarded are related to the merits of the psychologists themselves. It is also true that there has been a shift in values in much of Western society. Nowadays the emphasis is on the need not to prejudge, Not to fall into the trap of hating to hate, to exclude in order to exclude, and not to nurture a hypocritical mentality based on the accusation of others of not fitting into a model of perfection that no one has accomplishes.
The 5 keys to choosing a good psychologist
Beyond the myths that circulate about what it means to go to the psychologist, it is true that not everyone has the necessary information because, once they have decided to undergo therapy, they can choose well. Here are some keys to making the best choice when deciding which professionals to turn to. You have to pay attention to:
1. The experience
The practice of psychotherapy is based on a lot of practice; someone who only has theory probably won’t be able to access everything that is asked of them.
There are many profiles of psychotherapists; therefore, it is better to fine-tune the shot and go to someone you know who knows how to handle the problem you have, Others.
3. Recommendations and acknowledgments
If you can, look for the psychologist or psychologist’s recommendations in your mind. It’s also a good idea to see your credentials.
In the world of psychology, there are always new things; for that, the best professionals always train: Participate in seminars, take courses, etc.
It is important to have basic information about a professional before attending the first psychotherapy session. Pay attention to the degree of availability of information about your work and academic career.