April is Counseling Awareness month. Mental health related problems affect millions of people, and you might be surprised to hear this, but despite it being 2022, there is still stigma attached to seeking counseling services. However, every person would benefit from counseling at some point in their lifetime. Unfortunately, myths about counseling may prevent people from seeking the services that could potentially change their lives in a positive way.
Here are 12 common myths about counseling:
Myth #1: Counseling is for people with serious mental illness.
FACT: While some people do struggle with serious mental illness and do seek counseling to help them manage symptoms, most people who seek counseling are stable, functioning individuals who are sorting out everyday life problems such as relationship issues, work stress, grief and life transitions. People who seek counseling are looking to learn new skills to manage their responses, thoughts, and emotions. Counseling is also a great preventative measure to help you gain awareness and tools to manage any future stress you may encounter.
Myth #2: If you seek counseling, there’s something wrong with you.
FACT: Just because life can be stressful and overwhelming, doesn’t mean that something is wrong with you. Most people seeking counseling services are educated, highly functioning individuals who desire to figure out a different way to manage the way they are feeling/responding. Some people utilize counseling as a proactive tool to help them manage future stress while others seek counseling for skill development.
Myth #3: Counseling is a sign of weakness.
FACT: Counseling is a sign of strength. It takes a lot of courage acknowledge that you may need help in an area of your life and to take that first step of opening up to someone you don’t know.
Myth #4: Counseling is a quick fix and my counselor will have all the answers.
FACT: There are no quick fixes, and your counselor won’t have all the answers, but your counselor will walk along side of you providing guidance, psychoeducation, clinical interventions, and feedback in order to help you reach your goals.
Myth #5: Counselors don’t say/do much during session except nod.
FACT: Typically, counselors are fully engaged in a session by asking questions, offering different therapy interventions, providing psychoeducation, and giving feedback. A good counselor will help you set SMART goals and will help you track your progress.
Myth #6: Everyone will know if I see a counselor.
FACT: Counseling is strictly confidential unless you tell your counselor you’re going to hurt yourself or someone else, or if there are instances of child abuse. Confidentiality is held to a high standard, is part of HIPPA and the code of ethics. A lot of counselors now offer virtual appointments, so you won’t even have to worry about being seen walking into a counselor’s office.
Myth #7: If I start counseling, I’ll be there for years.
FACT: The length of counseling completely depends on 1.) The problem you come into counseling with, 2.) The length/severity of the problem, 3.) The goals you set, and 4.) Your motivation to change. Some people come to counseling to get a “third party” perspective for one session, while others come for 10 or more sessions.
Myth #8: If counseling didn’t work with my 1st therapist, it’s not going to work with a different therapist.
FACT: Just like in regular everyday relationships, you’re not always going to mesh well with all people. A good rapport is a strong foundation to the success of counseling. If you don’t feel comfortable with your counselor, it’s going to be difficult for you to feel comfortable enough to open up. Its ok if you don’t click with the first counselor you meet. It’s helpful to remember that you have the ability to choose which counselor you see and if you choose a new counselor, that’s ok!
Myth #9: Couples counseling always ends up being one-sided.
FACT: It is important, in couples counseling, to hear both perspectives, however a good counselor will remain neutral and focus on your relationship, and goals of hope and healing together.
Myth #10: I must be a Christian to see a Christian Counselor.
FACT: While faith forms the worldview of a Christian counselor, that does not mean they are going to push or force their beliefs on anyone. It is the goal of most counselors, Christian or not, to help you regardless of your beliefs.
Myth #11: Marriage counseling is a last-ditch effort before divorce.
FACT: Marriage takes work an intentionality. Many couples come to counseling who are not in crisis or distress. They come to learn how to make a good marriage even better. For couples who are in crisis, they can learn the skills needed to heal from their situation and take steps towards cultivating a thriving marriage.
Myth #12: Counseling involves taking medication.
FACT: Counselors are not doctors and cannot prescribe medication. While medications may be helpful to some people, it is ultimately the individual’s choice.
If you’re considering seeking counseling services, don’t let myths and misconceptions deter you from making a step towards positive changes in your life. Contact Graceful Balance for your counseling needs today!