When it comes to looking after our mental and emotional wellbeing, many feel embarrassed or anxious about talking to a counsellor. At the same time, we have no qualms about visiting our dentist on a periodic basis, or making an appointment with our GP to check up on our physical wellbeing.
With the pace of life today, taking care of our mental health is just as important as visiting our GP or dentist as the need arises. Unfortunately, there is still a stigma surrounding mental health. There’s the social stigma attached to people knowing that you’re seeking support for psychological, behavioural or relationship issues. I believe part of this is partially perpetuated from what is seen in the media. the Some people may struggle with the thoughts associated with negative perceptions about those seeing a counsellor.
Taking care of our mental health is an essential aspect of overall wellbeing. As such, there is no reason to be embarrassed or ashamed about talking with a counsellor. In fact, that you are able to acknowledge you are ready to make changes in your life is an act of courage and strength. You are brave for taking this step. There are many myths about counselling and what a counsellor does. Here are some:
Only people with a mental illness need counselling
Part of the stigma that is the attached to counselling comes from the idea that therapy is only necessary for people with a mental health condition.
The reality is that counselling is for everyone. The range of concerns a counsellor can address range from common issues like fatigue and burnout through to more serious matters like depression. If you are struggling with life changes, or having relationship issues, being able to the talk to someone about this can be helpful. Counselling can also be used a preventative tool by seeking help early for something that’s bothering you, and stopping it from developing into a major problem later on.
I have friends and family to talk to. I don’t need a counsellor.
While it is true a person can talk with family and friends about things that are bothering the, these are not a substitute for professional counselling.
Social support is important for everyone, and having perople you can talk to between sessions is beneficial. The relationship a person (client) has with a counsellor is also very different from the relationships you have with friends and family. Because counselling sessions are confidential, this allows you to speak freely, without needing to censor yourself the way you might with family and friends.
Too expensive and takes forever
Some people believe counselling is just extravagant common sense. Further to this belief, that once you start getting counselling you will be attending for years to come.
Modern counselling is affordable and outcome-focused and many counsellors in private practice deliberately moderate their fees to ensure all clients have access to quality care and support. The goal of counselling is to help people effectively manage life’s challenges. Some people only need a few sessions to resolve their concerns, whilst other people may benefit from a few months of intensive support. Research shows that the majority of issues can be addressed with effective, short-term counselling.
I tried counselling once – didn’t work
There are people who will have have a bad experience with counselling and make the generalisation that all counsellors will be the same.
Finding the right counsellor is like finding a good GP. Many of us have likely had a bad experience with a GP; this may have been the result of a personality clash or we feel that we did not receive the correct level of care. Just because counselling with one person didn’t work, doesn’t mean that counselling isn’t for you. It’s about finding the counsellor who is a good fit for you and your needs. The ‘therapeutic alliance’, or relationship between you and your counsellor, is at the center of successful counselling. You need to feel that you are able to trust, respect, and working together towards a common goal. Of course this can take time, so looking for a second opinion can work.
All I will do is talk about my childhood
One common misconception about counselling is that a client will spend much of their time talking about the past and relationship to their parents.
Some people may find it helpful to explore the ways their previous relationships with family members, friends and partners and how these might be impacting on their situation. For others, what is happening NOW is most importance and looking for a solution to the thing that brought them to counselling. Counselling is a dynamic process, with a variety of approaches for resolving concerns and achieving desired outcomes. When you discuss with a counsellor what is going on for you, you should be able to discuss your needs so the sessions can be customised to your unique personal situation.