So you walk into an office. You lie down on a couch. You are shown some vague blotches of black ink on white card. A guy sits in a chair with a note pad and writes something as you verbalize your deepest thoughts. Every time you mention an event or situation, the guy responds with, “How does that make you feel?”
This is a common picture of counseling that people have. There are some other counseling myths. I asked the team here at Dayspring Counseling about the top few myths people believe about counseling. While the list could be rather long, I thought I would tackle the top 5.
Counseling is for people with serious mental illness.
It is true that individuals with serious mental health problems can benefit from counseling. It is also true that individuals with general life problems can benefit. Some people are dealing with grief, depression, addictions, anxiety, past trauma, and a host of other problems. They don’t have serious impairment. They simply see the benefit of getting help with these things.
Beyond those, many people see a counselor to simply better their lives. They want to improve relationships, get rid of self-defeating thoughts, or make some changes in their lives. Counseling can help with all of these things. Seeing a counselor does not mean you’re “crazy.”
Counseling is for weak people.
If a child goes to school, does that mean she is weak since she can’t teach herself? If a guy goes to see his physician, is he too weak to heal himself? Doesn’t make sense, does it?
Counseling isn’t a way to have someone else fix your problems. On the contrary, counseling is designed to empower you to change your life. Counseling helps you do this faster and more completely. Counseling is not advice-giving. It is a way to help you overcome things in your life that keep you stuck. Seeing a counselor isn’t weak. It takes a great deal of strength to choose to move forward in your life instead of staying stuck.
There is a large amount of research tells us counseling is effective.
Counseling is just talking.
It is true that a large portion of counseling is talking. However, it is not just talking. You can have a good conversation with a friend or family member. Counseling is a way to examine your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors in order to make changes to improve your quality of life.
All counselors are touchy-feely, new-age, cheerleader types.
This makes for good TV, but not good counseling. It is true that counselors are often encouraging. We also confront dysfunctional thinking and develop plans to modify behavior. So, why counselors may be encouraging, warm, and empathetic, they also challenge and educate clients.
Counseling doesn’t work.
There is a large amount of research that tells us counseling is effective. Counseling requires work. It requires work during sessions and work outside of sessions. This is true for both the counselor and the client. Counseling, as a whole, is often a very effective in helping clients make healthy changes in their lives.
We recognize there are many other counseling myths. Hopefully we’ve addressed some of the more common ones. What counseling myths do you have or have you had in the past? We would love your comments.