6 Myths About Counseling and the Facts Behind Them

In Parts 1 and Part 2, we explored that pull toward something more and the feeling that goes with navigating that on your own. If you’ve been struggling with a particular issue for a while, perhaps it is time to seek professional help.

Does counseling get a bad rap sometimes? You betcha. How come? Well, there are some not so great counselors out there, just as there are in any profession whether it be mechanic, accountants, doctors, or lawyers. One of my brothers is a plumber, and a darn good one! I recommend him to friends and others all the time and the feedback I get from them is always the same: “He is so knowledgeable,” or “He was really friendly and personable,” or “He is extremely hard working and really thorough.” The quality of his work and the character of my brother speaks for itself. It does not, however, negate the bad experiences some people have had with other plumbers.

So what then? Just do it yourself? For some people, maybe, and the results of replacing their own water heater or toilet could be disastrous and quite costly. For me, I leave it to the professional and call him anytime I need something and he is there. Counseling is no different. Some individuals have had a horrible first experience in counseling or just what they’ve heard about it was not good, thus getting them strike a Heisman pose. So instead of seeking help, they endure the same stress each and every day or things worsen.

Lets look at some of the commons myths about counseling and the real truths behind them. 

Myth #1: Counseling is only for people with severe problems.

FACT: Seeing a counselor does not mean that you are mentally ill or "crazy". Everyone has difficulties at some point in their lives and being able to ask for help is a sign of maturity, health, and strength.

Myth #2: Seeking counseling is a sign of weakness.

FACT: It takes courage to explore sensitive feelings and painful experiences. Individuals who enter counseling are taking the first step in resolving their difficulties. 

Myth #3: Going to counseling means that I'm out of control. 

FACT: Actually, going to counseling is a way of taking control. Talking to a counselor is a great way to take control of your thoughts, feelings, and actions, and to make changes to improve your quality of life. Our mood and behavior impacts us and those people in our "blast radius." An improved quality of life has obvious benefits for you and those around you as well.

Myth #4: Counseling is a last resort.

FACT: Most of us do not think that we have to experience a heart attack before we can see a doctor; it is OK to go if we merely have a sprained ankle. The same logic applies to counseling - you don't have to have the emotional equivalent of a heart attack to see a counselor. By working with a counselor you can often get back on track much faster and save yourself a lot of unnecessary distress.

Myth #5: I have a great family and supportive friends; I don't need to talk to a counselor. 

FACT: Friends and family can be great sources of support and advice, and social support is one of the best mediators of stress and other psychological issues. However, these individuals can be too close to the situation making them biased (likely in our favor…in fact, we like for them to be!) and therefore are less able to help us see different perspectives, different solutions and so forth. 

Myth#6: The counselor will tell me what to do and how to "fix" my problems. 

Fact: Counseling is not a "quick fix" for your problems. The counselor's role is to help you explore your feelings, thoughts, and concerns; to examine your options and to assist you in achieving the goals you have set.  

Any other myths you have heard about you'd like answered? Post it below!

Stay tuned for the 4th and final blog for this series.