There are many myths out there about the negative aspects of receiving counselling. This sometimes puts teens and young adults off from getting the therapy they need and deserve, which is a great shame. I thought I’d put together this article which goes through a few of the common myths about counselling, and, why they are simply untrue.
Myth 1: Getting counselling is a sign of madness or that you’re ‘crazy’
Let’s get this one out of the way first. Seeking counselling is not indicative that you are mad. In fact, by choosing to get counselling you are showing a very reasoned approach to dealing with a problem that you know you can’t resolve on your own. Doesn’t sound like the actions of a crazy person, does it? In fact, resigning to a troubled situation indefinitely for fear of being judged for getting help is an actual example of unsound thinking, not the opposite.
Myth 2: Getting counselling is a sign of weakness
Nothing could be further from the truth. Far, far from it; it’s a sign of strength and courage. Rather than hang back for fear of judgement, by seeking counselling you’re putting your own needs (and perhaps those of others) ahead of how you think people will perceive and judge you. That’s not a sign of weakness. That’s a sign of bravery. If you injured your leg, I don’t think anyone would see you as weak for getting hospital treatment. Neither, therefore, are you weak for getting help from a counsellor when it comes to issues of the mind.
Myth 3: Getting counselling is a sign of powerlessness
Some teens might think that seeking counselling is a sign of powerlessness or helplessness; a sign that they are losing control. In reality, seeking counselling is an example of taking BACK control. When you decide to go for counselling, you’re in effect declaring that you’re not going to let your problems, issues or fears overcome and consume you. You’re deciding that CAN regain control over them and your life, and that you’re going to do it by getting help from a professional. Just like you wouldn’t design a house without getting a professional architect on board, neither can you always tackle emotional or psychological issues without getting help from a trained professional.
Myth 4: I tried counselling before and it didn’t work. It’s not for me.
You may have gone for counselling before, and yes, perhaps it didn’t work. There are innumerable reasons why this might be. However, it does not mean that one bad experience rules you out from benefiting from therapy full stop. Let’s pretend it was a dentist. Say you went to one, and they did a bad job on a filling or missed something. It makes perfect sense that you wouldn’t go to them again. However, does it mean that you wouldn’t go to any dentist in general, if you had a painful toothache again? Of course not, that would be irrational; you can’t let one bad past experience prevent you from seeking help again when you need it in the future. In summary, you may have had a bad counselling experience before, but there are plenty of other counsellors ready and waiting to help you.
Myth 5: Counselling takes forever
The truth is, there’s no hard and fast rule when it comes to working out how long counselling will take. For some they’re ok in a few months, others continue to attend counselling throughout their lives (though not necessarily at frequent intervals). In some cases, people only need a couple of sessions. Generally, it takes time to establish a trusting relationship between the therapist and the client; let’s be honest, the same could be said for any relationship. Counsellors will also try to avoid having a patient become absolutely dependent on them for resolving issues, so you really won’t end up attending more often or for longer than your counsellor considers necessary.
Myth 6: Counselling will affect educational or career prospects
There’s no reason this has to be the case. For one thing, anything discussed in therapy is 100% confidential between you and your counsellor. Your school, college or employer need never know you’re attending. And even if they did, an employer or college most certainly cannot use the fact that you’re attending counselling against you to deny you a promotion or placement.
Myth 7: Receiving counselling makes me different or odd
Not at all. You’d be surprised at how many teens and adults alike receive (or have received) counselling for all sorts of issues; issues you might never even associate with them. The fact that we don’t hear about them just shows you how confidential the process truly is. There could well be people in your class, workplace or friend circle (even family) receiving counselling and you might never know. There’s nothing odd about it all.
I hope this has helped clear up some of the myths out there about counselling. It’s by no means an exhaustive list, and if you’re unsure about something I haven’t mentioned above please do feel free to drop me a DM or email. Likewise, if you feel that you would benefit from counselling yourself I’d be happy to arrange a consultation.