Some people believe that therapy is a lost cause. Others believe the very opposite, that therapy is a magical fix-all. And still, others fall somewhere in between: hesitant but hopeful of its rumored healing power. The point is, that everyone has their thoughts and feelings on the therapeutic process—but the ones that deserve our attention belong to those who specialize in the matter: mental health professionals. The following are 10 things psychologists, counselors, therapists, and those alike want you to know about their job:

1) “Therapy is not awful or scary.”

Renee Pigsley, Provisional Licensed Mental Health Practitioner and National Certified Counselor wishes everyone knew the love she has for her profession: “If I had a dollar for every time someone told me, ‘Wow, good for you for doing that,’ or, ‘Oh, I could never deal with people’s problems,’ I’d be rich! This field is my passion. It’s not awful. It’s not scary. Watching people grow and be able to handle what life throws at them is humbling and rewarding. I wouldn’t choose anything else!”

2) “Your therapist is not a paid friend.”

“I wish people understood that your therapist is not a paid friend,” says Licensed Psychologist Tanisha Ranger. “We care about you, support you, challenge you, and encourage you. But you do not do that for us. If your therapist is your friend, it’s a thoroughly one-sided friendship. The things you need your therapist for are very different than those for which you need your friends. Successful therapy will inevitably make you a better friend, in my opinion—just not your therapist’s friend.”

3) “Counseling works.”

Jessica Tappana, Licensed Clinical Social Worker, wants you to know that counseling really does work: “People get better. You may feel like you are alone or that you’ll never get better. However, the majority of clients I see do get better. Things like anxiety, depression, feeling stuck, relationship troubles, feeling overwhelmed, self-hatred, grief, and even suicidal thoughts can all get better. You can find healing. Counseling can help. Adding structure to your life can help. Learning to think differently can help. I simply want people to know that the depressed teen who never gets better portrayed in movies or the person you’ve seen look miserable for years are not representative of how mental health has to be. It’s okay to reach out and to believe that you can find healing.”

4) “Therapy isn’t all fluff and feelings.”

Brooke Williams, Licensed Professional Counselor, explains that therapy helps individuals with a variety of issues—not just the urgent or extreme: “Sometimes people come to therapy because they feel stuck and need help seeing around the typical things that get in their way—family members, past experiences, trauma, or failed relationships—so they can make better choices and be the person that they want to be. You don’t have to be crazy or have your life in shambles to go to therapy; sometimes it can provide the boost that you need to break unhealthy patterns of behavior and move forward to get what you want and be who you want.”

5) “Mental health matters.”

“People are so afraid to say mental health and when you say it, people are quick to say I don’t have those issues. In reality, we all have mental health!” explains Lakiesha Russell, Licensed Professional Counselor. “Mental health includes our social, emotional, and psychological wellbeing. Yes, some people may have a mental illness, but we all have mental health. People get so caught up on mental illnesses that we don’t take the time to reflect on other aspects of our life that may not produce the greatest mental health at times, such as breakups, divorces, self-esteem, the way individuals communicate with each other, and so on.”

6) “Therapists are people too.”

Jessica Schroeder Licensed Clinical Marriage and Family Therapist wants you to know that therapists are people too; they make mistakes and they also experience difficulties: “Just because I am a therapist does not mean I have it all together. I still make mistakes when disciplining my child and I still make mistakes when arguing with my husband. We all are a work in progress. Furthermore, this job is very emotionally draining. I spend 6-8 hours a day emotionally engaged with my clients. I feel the emotions they feel. I am in the trenches of pain with them. I truly care about every one of my clients.”

7) “We are just as emotional and empathetic as everyone else.”

“People often say to me, ‘I could never do what you do—I’m too emotional.’ They assume that because I am able to hear such horrible stories day after day, I must be either unemotional or able to turn my emotions off, so that I am not affected by my clients’ experiences. What I wish everyone understood about my job is that we are just as emotional and empathetic as everyone else who is in a non-clinical career,” says Renae Marler, Licensed Mental Health Counselor and Certified Mental Health Specialist. “A major component of my schooling and education included learning how to deal with trauma, and a huge piece of that is self-care. That allows me to empathize deeply with my clients without being enmeshed in their experience. My training is what makes me able to do my job effectively. It allows me to be genuine, sincere, and fully present—not unemotional and detached.”

8) “Therapists do a lot more than listen.”

Lisa Hutchison, Licensed Mental Health Counselor, explains that there’s a whole lot more to her job than just listening: “On the outside, it looks as if a psychotherapist’s job is easy—after all, we spend a lot of time sitting and listening. But active listening involves paying attention and consciously being in the moment: this is a lot of work! As we listen, we hold the space for the client, allowing them to express their inner most thoughts and feelings in a safe environment. At times, we hear about horrific abuses and heartbreaking losses, which can cause vicarious trauma for a therapist who is not taking care of their mental health. When we become triggered by something we hear, we have to be aware that our own issues are not interfering with a client’s treatment.”

9) “We don’t have a magic wand.”

Anna Prudovski, Psychologist, Clinical Director of Turning Point Psychological Services in Vaughan, Ontario wants you to understand that therapy is not magic—it takes hard work: “If you have been struggling with anxiety, problematic relationships, and low self-esteem for most of your life, don’t expect to hear a single pearl of wisdom that will dramatically change your life. Therapy involves hard work. It’s a difficult and sometimes painful process that involves taking a hard look at yourself and working slowly on changing your ways. But this hard work is very rewarding at the end.”

10) “My job is exciting and rewarding.”

“People don’t understand how rewarding my job is and how exciting it is to be a part of the transformation process,” explains Monte Drenner, Licensed Counselor, Master Certified Addictions Professional, and Life Coach. “Most people think that all I do is sit and listen to people’s problems all day. What I believe is that I get the opportunity to see people change and grow and to learn to thrive rather than just survive. If more people understood this, there would be many others seeking to do the same.”