It’s common for people to have hesitations about seeing a counselor, due to many misconceptions about therapy. Learning the truth, and dispelling the myths, will make you more comfortable in reaching out for counseling.
Myth #1: Counseling is only for “crazy people.”
Truth: Counseling can be helpful for everyday problems, which everyone faces at some point in their life. This may include poor communication with a partner or child, stress at work, difficulty sleeping, or just feeling sad. Any life changes, big or small, can cause stress, and it can be helpful to have someone to talk to for support and guidance.
Myth #2: Counseling is only for people who are weak.
Truth: It takes a great deal of strength and courage to admit you need some help. Seeking help is a sign of mental health, not weakness. It shows that you are ready to take control of your life. Counseling will help you identify strengths you already have and improve on them to make life more manageable.
Myth #3: My problems aren’t serious enough for counseling.
Truth: Counseling can often be helpful when you have a decision to make, if you are feeling lonely, if you had a bad day at work. If something is causing you stress, worry, sadness, or anxiety, it is serious enough for counseling. If something is important to you, that makes it important enough for counseling.
Myth #4: My problems are too big for counseling.
Truth: Experienced counselors will be able to help you sort through years of problems. Counseling can help you explore past experiences and teach you how they affect your behaviors and thought patterns today. Years of trauma will not be fixed with a few sessions, but if you are committed to therapy long-term, it will help.
Myth #5: Someone who doesn’t know me can’t help me.
Truth: Counselors are often better helpers than family and friends, because they will provide objective feedback. Counselors have training in human behaviors and recognize patterns that people close to you may not.
Myth #6: Counseling will be a quick fix for my problems.
Truth: Counseling can be a lengthy, in-depth process. One session is not typically enough to make lasting change. Counseling is difficult work for the client and often brings up emotions that were being withheld. It is important that you are dedicated to continuing with counseling in order to make change possible. Moreover, it is not a counselor’s job to fix you, rather to give you insight and help you reach your goals.
Myth #7: People will know I’m seeing a counselor and will think differently of me.
Truth: All counseling sessions are confidential, so unless you choose to tell others you are seeing a counselor, no one will find out. Talk to your counselor about your preferences for being contacted, including their ability to leave messages on phones and where you prefer to receive mail. Be sure that your counselor reviews the limits of confidentiality with you at your first session.
Myth #8: I don’t want to lie on a couch and be analyzed.
Truth: Although commonly seen in the movies, this is not typical of most counseling sessions. Counselors’ offices are comfortable, relaxed settings. Couches may or may not be present, and the client always has the option to sit or lie down. Therapists are not there to analyze you and find out what is “wrong” with you, rather their job is to help you identify areas for change.
Myth #9: One hour per week isn’t going to help.
Truth: One hour per week is adequate time with your counselor; however the work doesn’t end there. With your counselor, you may develop “homework,” or things you will work on during the week before your next session. You must be willing to extend your experience into your daily life in order to see positive change.
Myth #10: I’ve tried counseling before, it doesn’t work.
Truth: Not every counselor is well-suited for any individual. Perhaps your previous counselor was not a good match for you. Perhaps you were not fully committed to the process at the time. Spend time researching counselors before choosing one. It is important to find a counselor who has experience with the issues you are facing.