Deciding to attend counselling is a big (and positive) step at any age, be you a pre-teen, teen or adult. It has been proven to be very beneficial in helping people overcome a variety of issues including anxiety, eating disorders, depression, trauma, bereavement, OCD, to name just some. Unfortunately, some people are put off by certain myths around counselling. This is a great pity, as it causes people who could benefit from therapy to miss out on its benefits. I’ve put this article together to dispel some of the more common myths around counselling.
Counselling is a sign that I’m crazy
Not at all. In fact, looking for counselling is a sign that you’re actually quite switched on as to what’s going on with you; you are recognising that you can’t imagine all these emotions or feelings. Rather than continue to let them impact your life, you’re choosing to get help in managing them so that they no longer do so. Sounds like a pretty sane and rational decision to me.
Counselling is a sign that I’m weak
Far from it. By seeking counselling you are showing that you have the strength to reach out for help when you’re struggling. It’s actually quite a brave decision, most definitely not a sign of weakness. If you broke your arm in a football game, would you consider yourself ‘weak’ for going to a hospital, rather than continue playing? Of course you wouldn’t. And the same applies when it comes to your mental health; sometimes we need that extra bit of help to get us on the mend.
A teen going for counselling is a sign of a failed parent
Sending a teen for counselling is absolutely not a sign of a failed parent. It can be the exact opposite, in fact. By choosing to send a child for counselling, a parent is acknowledging that the child needs help that they can’t give. It’s a positive step. Again, to use the broken arm analogy, would you consider a parent to have failed a child for sending them to a hospital to have the arm treated? Nobody would. They send the child to the hospital because they’re not qualified or capable of treating the broken arm themselves. And that’s ok, why would they be? Likewise, parents can’t be expected to understand the complexities of the mind, anxiety, emotions, etc. Therefore, it makes perfect sense to send a child for counselling when you believe that they would benefit from it. In contrast, where a parent does not send a child in this situation, simply for fear of being judged, it would be an actual example of a bad parenting decision.
Therapy is just about talking and discussing your feelings
While talking is a big part of therapy, it’s by no means the only element. Therapists will encourage your teen to find ways to help better manage their problems. As an example, let’s consider a teen who attends therapy for anxiety issues. The therapist will of course get them to talk about their feelings, but it doesn’t end there. It’s far more proactive than that. The therapist might give them exercises to do at home, or techniques to help them better manage anxiety when it arises.
Therapy never ends, it’s in the therapist’s interest for my child to keep attending
Once again, this is not the case. In fact, a therapist will want the child to get to a point where they no longer need to attend at all, ideally. If that can’t be achieved, they’ll aim to get them to a point where they no longer need to attend at short intervals. As mentioned earlier, therapists proactively work with clients to get them to the point where their issues no longer have the same hold over them. How long someone attends therapy varies from individual to individual. Some finish after a few weeks, others continue to attend for years but not necessarily at frequent intervals. There’s no one-size-fits-all answer here. But trust me, the ethics of therapy do not encourage a client to become dependent on a therapist, quite the opposite actually.
I hope this article has given you some insight into the common myths around therapy, and why they’re simply not true. If you’re still unsure about going for counselling, or whether it would be of benefit to you or a loved one, please feel free to get in touch with me and we can arrange a consultation.