Counseling 101

Dispelling the Myths Behind Counseling!

What is counseling?

Counseling is the provision of assistance in resolving personal, social or psychological problems and difficulties, especially by a professional. In addition there are many different types of counseling.

What is a counselor?

A counselor is an individual who is trained to give guidance on personal, social or psychological problems. Each professional specializes in a certain type of counseling, such as substance abuse, marriage and family, rehabilitation and mental health.

What is therapy?

Therapy is a treatment intended to relieve or heal a disorder. As well as help those with everyday issues.

Types of Therapies

In addition, there are also different types of counselors who perform an array of different therapies, such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), reality therapy (RT) and interpersonal therapy (IT).

Truths and Myths

Myth: People will assume there is something wrong with you if you seek counseling.

Fact: For an individual to seek counseling takes a lot of courage. This is the first step towards wanting and needing help. Although this is a big step it is also very important one. Counselors are there to give an unbiased opinion to those who seek help. Their job is to welcome clients and make individuals feel comfortable to be able to talk about their concerns that they may have in their lives.

Myth: I’ve tried therapy and it didn’t work

Fact: Therapy can sometimes be an awkward experience at first going in; However, The first therapist we see may not be the right fit, because therapist are not all “one size fits all” sometimes it may take a few tries to find the right person. Don’t give up just because the first time didn’t turn out the way you wanted it to be or that you envisioned. The right one is out there, and you will know when they are right one for u.

Myth: Seeking counseling is a sign of weakness.

Fact: Counseling does not have to always be use in a crisis situation or trauma, you can also seek counselor for preventive measures or just to maintain a healthy lifestyle. However, counseling is usually sought to manage your issues, if there are problems that are impairing your ability to function day to day; utilizing counselling services is a great way to help you handle difficult situations when they arise. Counseling can also help those who have an interest in developing skills in areas such as business and leadership.

Myth: Counselors will try to put you on medication.

Fact: Unfortunately, counselors are not trained to prescribe medication to their clients. Counselors are only educated on different types of therapeutic modalities, treatment plans and types of mental health disorders etc. Although, they do hold masters and/or doctoral degrees in mental health fields, their job is to provide therapy to their clients. However, counselors do work closely with psychiatrists who are trained to prescribe medication in addition to collaborative treatment plans for clients who does take medication. In addition, Psychiatrists are doctors who prescribe medication to their clients in order to address any biological aspects of managing mental health, and counselors work with clients to address the psychological needs of mental health.

Myth: Counseling is a quick fix.

Fact: Unfortunately, there is no such thing as quick fixes when it comes to receiving counseling. The amount of time an individual receives counseling varies from client to client. While in counseling many things may come up which tend to prolong the process to completion. The client along with the therapist will determine when it is the right time for sessions to come to an end, then and only then will the decision be made. Usually in counseling both parties will collaborate and make a treatment plan that both will agree on the issues that need to be addressed. Overall, this process takes time, patience, and persistence.

Myth: If you go to counseling everyone will know and judge you negativity.

Fact: Counselors before going into the field undergo a code of ethical guidelines which states that all individuals seeking counseling is completely confidential.

If there has been a breach in confidentiality, the counselor themselves could stand the chance of losing their license. However, under the code of ethics there is a clause which states that there is “a duty to warn” which means that if someone wants to harm themselves and/or others, or if there has been any past sexual abuse or misconduct by and/or toward the patient then that information has to be immediately reported to the proper authorities. Counselors pride themselves on making their client feel as comfortable as possible, so gaining an individual’s trust and respect is the number one priority when it comes to therapy. Counselor’s number one goal is to decrease the stigma related to seeking counseling and to create a world where seeking counseling is as common as seeking relief from the common cold.

Myth: Counseling is only for those with a mental illness.

Fact: Yes, individuals with mental health issues come to therapy for help and to manage their symptoms, however, counselors are not just trained to work with those with an illness. Counselors are also trained specifically is special areas that deal with those who have issues in multiple areas of life, including family matters, relationship issues, grief or loss, financial stress, balance of work and achieving goals, work related stress, and much more. Individuals with mental illness doesn’t represent the majority of the population who seek counseling, attending counseling when problems are mild to moderate can prevent problems from becoming severe.

Myth: Only certain races of people seek counseling.

Fact: Actually, counselors are trained to working with individuals of all diverse backgrounds, race and ethnicities. It is also apart of their job to understand and be sensitive to the individual experiences of each client they meet when it comes to gender, sexual orientation, age, religious beliefs and economic background. While it is beneficial to ask clients about their culture and values, there are limitations to the information that needs to be known about their ethnicity. Knowing specific information such as this gives the therapist a better idea of assumptions, biases, values and the tendency toward ethnocentricity (the belief that our race/ethnic group is the most significant). Additionally, being a culturally diverse counselor is a plus but can be challenging. Keep in mind that although we may differ from one another in a lot of different ways, all of us have in common our humanity and needs for validation and security.

Myth: Counselors don’t do anything but just sit there and listen to people’s problems all day

Fact: Unfortunately, there are many stereotypes which are depicted by the media that present counselors, therapist and psychologist, psychiatrist as those who are mind readers, detached from the patient, or ineffective. However, most counselors are very active and engaged with their clients; using questions, reactions, observing body language and gestures as well as interventions to help you move towards your goals.

Myth: Therapy is expensive!

Fact: Unfortunately, the cost of therapy sometimes prohibits many people from seeking therapy. People commonly overestimate the actual out-of-pocket cost of therapy to a patient, as many insurance plans cover the cost of sessions. Many insurance plans do include mental health coverage, and it is likely you will be responsible only for the cost of co-pays or a portion of the fee quoted for a session. If you don’t have health insurance or your plan does not cover counseling, try to find a therapist willing to offer some discounted rates to make it more affordable. Counseling may often be expensive but it’s an investment that you make for your physical and emotional well-being.

Myth: Why would I pay someone to sit there and listen, when I can just get my friend and/or family to listen to me.

Fact: Although it is great to have friends and family who care about you and are understanding of your thoughts and feelings and who is there for you in a time of need. However, unfortunately they don’t have the expertise and are not trained professionals who can accurately access their problems and identify the root of them as well as help them to navigate an effective pathway for growth and healing. Friends may also favor your perspective and support your individual biases, which leads to misgiven advice. Whereas, a therapists can offer an unbiased opinions and view your concerns, identify behavioral pathologies and mental health issues that may be overlooked by an un trained person. In addition, therapist will design effective interventions and guide you through treatment. Counselors will also sometimes involve other family members, if needed.

References: Counseling.northwest.edu, Danaelsoncounseling.com, Drandycase.com, psychcentral.com