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  • Caleb Birkhoff

Top 10 Myths about Therapy in San Francisco

San Francisco is definitely a place where people seek out new experiences and new opportunities, and certainly aren’t bashful when it comes to talking about them. Therapy in San Francisco can be a bit of an exception, which is sort of surprising given the thousands of therapists that practice in San Francisco. Given that it’s something not everyone is talking about, though more and more are, here are some myths about therapy that are worth dispelling. If we’re not talking about therapy, we’re left relying on what we think we know about it. You might be left thinking that counseling in my city is just like it is on tv, or in the media, which unfortunately might lead you astray. It can be difficult to know what's true and what's not, especially when so much information is spread through splashy social media or pop cultural references.

I hope to help you understand the myths about counseling in San Francisco, and help you find the right fit for you. My goal is to start a conversation about myths and misconceptions regarding therapy in San Francisco and educate you about what counseling in San Francisco really is instead.

Here are The Top 6 Myths about Therapy in San Francisco…

Myth #1: Therapy in San Francisco is like talking to a bartender, your barber, or friendly Uber driver, right?

Though this myth is perpetuated by media portrayals and professionals in other professions, you’re really selling therapy short with this belief. Counselors in California are clinically trained to support you with specific tasks and interventions in order to support your goals. Having an understanding ear is a huge help, I certainly wouldn’t want to understate the importance of close and vulnerable connection with people, but it’s not the same! Even if it doesn’t feel like it in every session, we’re busy applying theories we’ve learned, the various workshops and training we’ve attended (or been certified in), the feedback we’ve gotten through supervisors, and consultation from other therapists in San Francisco. In California we’re talking about thousands of hours of course work, continuing education, certifications, and supervision to become and maintain our license. Sure, bartenders, barbers, and Uber drivers might listen like counselors in San Francisco, but they’re not formulating a clinical picture and supporting outcomes.

Myth #2: I’ll feel better after one session with my counselor in San Francisco

Therapy in San Francisco is going to take some time, even if you’re looking to do brief therapy (a valuable treatment modality). One session is not going to be enough to change something you’ve been struggling with for a while or address a long-term goal you have in mind. It’s safe to assume if it took some time for the problem to develop, it’s going to take some time to address it. Your first session, as discussed in a previous blog, will also likely be information gathering in nature, being a historian has rarely made the difference people are looking for. Consistent effort, attendance, and applying what you learned in therapy outside of therapy is where you’re going to see those results.

Myth #3: All therapists in San Francisco will accept my insurance

Not all therapist will accept your insurance, and not all therapists accept insurance, so this is a tricky myth. Before calling a therapist in San Francisco, check to see if they take your insurance. Most therapists include that information on their website, or in their therapy directory listing. A therapist not accepting your insurance doesn’t mean you can’t work with them, this would be a good time to check for out of network benefits through your insurance plan. You will likely find some level of reimbursement for services available to you. You can also consider, if your therapist in San Francisco does not take insurance, paying for their services out of pocket. If none of that works for you at the time of year where you look into insurance benefits, maybe consider the possibility of getting an HSA/FSA for money to build up into that account, especially if your deductible is high.

Myth #4: I can call and email my counselor in San Francisco at any time and they’ll respond

The first part is true, you can contact your therapist when you have something you need to talk about, usually it’s about scheduling. You lose the momentum on the second part, they won’t respond at all hours of the day, or even days of the week. Therapists in San Francisco will do their best to be prompt in their replies, but they’re also going to have boundaries about how prompt they’re going to be. Some have different schedules, some counselors in San Francisco may have strict office hours, between session policies, and others may have times where they tell you they are available or not. Many of the new tech platforms for mental health do have a lot more access to your therapist, but they also compensate therapists for word count on those texts you get back…Therapy is a great place to develop and maintain healthy boundaries, your therapist is going to have them with you too.

Myth #5: Therapy is Only Talk Therapy

While talk therapy or psychotherapy is a common form of therapy, it's not the only type of therapy available. Some people may choose cognitive-behavioral therapy, which focuses on changing thought patterns and behaviors, while others may prefer group therapy to improve relationships and increase social support. Others may choose more specialized therapies, such as art therapy, music therapy, or movement therapy. If you know what you’re looking for in a therapist in San Francisco, put that in the search bar when you Google a therapist near me. If you’re unsure where to start, schedule some consultations and see what counseling in San Francisco has to offer you.

Myth #6: You Have to Share All Your Secrets

You don't have to disclose all your secrets to your therapist if you're not comfortable doing so. Honestly it’s ideal to take some time to start delving into your life when you meet with a therapist in San Francisco. Therapy is about building a relationship, building trust, and building boundaries. Telling someone new in your life everything about your self during your first session might make you feel exposed and hesitant to return. In therapy, you are in control of what you share and what you don't. A good therapist will not judge you for keeping certain things private and will work with you to ensure you feel safe and secure in your sessions. Take your time, it’ll all come out when it’s supposed to.

Myth #7: Therapy is All About Blaming Your Parents

While it's true that therapy in San Francisco can explore the role that parents and family dynamics may play in a person's life and mental health, it is not the only focus of therapy. It’s overly simplistic to think that everything leads back to your parents, but they can be a big influence. They might not even come up, depending on what brings you to counseling in San Francisco. Therapy can address a range of issues including personal growth, relationships, self-esteem, confidence, coping with stressors, and much more.

Myth #8: Therapy is Only for People with Mental Illness

Therapy is not just for those with severe mental health concerns. It can benefit anyone looking to improve their mental wellness and create positive change in their lives. Individuals may seek therapy for a wide variety of reasons from managing anxiety, dealing with grief, to bolstering self-esteem or improving relationships with others. You might be looking for therapy in San Francisco cope with a life transition you didn’t see coming or to do some preventative maintenance. Therapy is rarely drop in, but you can eventually get to a place where seeing your therapist feels like a tune-up.

Myth #9: You Should Figure it Out on Your Own

Asking for help is not a sign of weakness. In fact, it takes a lot of courage to seek out therapy. Everyone needs help or support at some point in their lives, and therapy can provide the guidance and perspective that we often struggle to find on our own. Think about any skill that you have today, at some point in your life you had to learn it. Though many skills are self taught, would it have been easier to have someone help you figure it out? Therapy in San Francisco gives you a chance to not have to work through all the bumps and bruises of learning on your own. Self-reliance is a powerful skill, but it comes with some liability.

Myth #10: Therapy is a Waste of Time and Money

While it's true that therapy is an investment, it's not a waste of time or money. In fact, research shows that therapy is an effective treatment for a range of mental health concerns, including anxiety and depression. Additionally, therapy can help individuals gain insight into themselves, how they think and react to situations, and how to make positive changes in their lives. Therapy in San Francisco has a range of benefits available to you, which certainly won’t be available if you never get started.

Therapy is a valuable tool for anyone looking to improve their mental health and overall well-being. However, it can be challenging to know the facts from the myths, which is why it's essential to educate ourselves properly and spread the word to others. I hope this blog post helped to clear up some of the common misconceptions about therapy and encourage anyone looking to improve their lives to give it a try. Remember, therapy is not just for those struggling with severe mental illness -- it's a tool to help you lead a happier, healthier life.


I hope that this list helps you feel more confident about what it means to be in therapy in San Francisco. If after reading all of that, you’re still swirling with questions feel free to call me at 415-990-1452 for a free 15-minute phone consultation, and to get some questions answered. I would be happy to hear what is happening for you, what you’re looking for and provide some direction to finding the right therapist for you.

If you are seeking help with couples therapy, drugs and alcohol, a life transition, discovering yourself, or therapy for men, you can read more about how I can help by clicking here!

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