It may be intimidating to consider seeking counselling or therapy, especially for those exploring this type of self-care for the first time. We want to stress that having reservations or feeling uneasy about seeking help is completely normal and to be expected. After all, the idea of opening up to a stranger and asking them for guidance with personal issues can feel overwhelming. Our goal is to make taking the first step as easy as possible by helping clear up some common myths or misunderstandings that surround the topics of counselling or therapy. Once this is cleared up, you may feel more comfortable about the idea and more open to seek counselling or therapy for your personal needs.
Counselling is Only for ‘Major’ Issues or ‘Crazy’ People
This is probably the most common and longstanding misconception in existence. Firstly, we would like to make clear that seeking help is not a weakness, but a strength. It shows that your inner monologue is aware of your mindset enough to understand that it needs someone other than itself to help guide you through a situation. Needing therapy or counselling is not a sign that you are ‘crazy’ or that you have a ‘major’ life-altering issue you need help coping with. Most people, at some point in their lives, will experience periods of depression, unhappiness, feelings of being unfulfilled, anxiety, or hurt. Most people seeking therapy are ordinary people facing everyday issues, rather than people suffering from extreme manic episodes or psychological disorders. Therapy and counselling exists to provide all people with the tools they need to help navigate difficult times in their lives, which can be anything ranging from dealing with daily stresses of your personal relationship with a partner to extreme addition or manic episodes.
Counselling Will Always Take a Long Time to Become Effective
Therapy does not have to become a part of your life forever. Your therapist or counsellor is trained to come up with a treatment plan according to your needs. During your first visit, your therapist will ask you questions that are designed to help them understand why you are seeking counsel and determine how to best help you reach your goals in a healthy, constructive way, while also providing you with maintenance tools that you will be able to use throughout your life as you encounter and navigate any issues that may arise. How long healing will take is strongly dependent on why you’re seeking therapy or counsel. For most people, a treatment plan will be for about three to four months. Unfortunately, some people may never completely heal, and they may seek therapy for much longer periods. There are also cases where targeted goals were reached and therapy was ‘completed’, so to speak and the patient decides to stay on for maintenance sessions.
Counsellors Will Blame or Shame You
Unfortunately, this common misconception comes primarily from what we see from celebrity therapists or counsellors. A good therapist who is interested in your healing will not blame or shame you, but help build you up and grow. The media portrays therapists and counsellors in a very aggressive and almost bullying way- this is just for entertainment purposes and not how a typical session should ever go. It’s also a common misconception that every struggle or issue you are facing will be redirected to childhood trauma or blamed on your parents. In some situations, depending on your unique struggles, it may be relevant to discuss your past to gain a better understanding of root causes, but healing is not about assigning blame.
Counselling is about building a positive mental outlook and positive relationships. To help you do this, a therapist should create a safe, accepting, non-judgmental, and nurturing space to work through your struggles or challenges. They may encourage you to make some changes in your life or contemplate your personal role (even if it may be unintentional) you may play in these existing challenges, but this is not meant to assign blame, but create a constructive way of looking at the struggles from the outside and adjusting accordingly to create a better, more healthy situation.
There’s No Point in Dwelling on the Past
It’s a very common notion that therapy and counselling are about leaving the past behind and only facing forward. However, if we do this, the past will still have power over us in the present and future. Past traumas that are brushed away like they never occurred will continue to haunt us. Therapy and counselling are focused on healing hurt, trauma, and wounds that we have been carrying. It helps us resolve the negative emotions we have because we are holding onto emotional wounds. Only once an issue is resolved can you properly move forward without bringing a part of the pain with you.
Admitting You Need Help and Going for Counselling Means You’re Weak
We touched upon this a bit before. Seeking counselling is the opposite of weakness, it shows personal strength. You have been able to accept the limitations you have encountered trying to navigate challenges in your life and are open to asking for help and seeking guidance. Accepting that you need help is one of the strongest acts a person can do. It shows courage that you are willing to open up and be vulnerable with someone, especially someone that you do not know and may not be comfortable with on a personal level. Being able to put yourself out there and going out on a limb as a part of your self-care is something that not enough people can do. Take pride in yourself for being courageous and being strong enough to be uncomfortable.
The Counsellor Has It All Worked Out
It may help you feel more comfortable seeking therapy or counselling to know that your therapist is not all-knowing and doesn’t have all the answers. They usually don’t have everything worked out and together at all. They are just regular, ordinary people like you. Sure, over time and with training, they have gained the knowledge and insight to be able to provide you with tools to navigate your way through struggles and challenges, but they are not especially gifted with knowledge, so there’s no reason to feel intimidated. Most therapists have been attracted to this field because they too have been knocked down throughout their lives, experiencing trauma, pain, hurt, and wounds. The stronger amongst this group can do their own self-work, learning, understanding, and growing from their own therapy. This allows them the ability to relate to your struggles and be able to connect with you, but don’t expect your therapist to have all the answers. Just like they may have done their self-work, you will too. They will guide you, but cannot do the work for you. The best way to think of this was once said by Ram Dass, “We’re all just walking each other home”. Your therapist is there to help guide you and help you get where you need to go, but you have to get there together.
Once we start to break down the common myths and misconceptions surrounding the topics of therapy and counselling, they should start to become more humanized, approachable. Rather than making you feel weak, therapy aims to empower you throughout your life. It exists to promote your mental health and wellbeing, which will improve your overall quality of life. When your mind is at ease, the rest follows suit.
If you’re interested in exploring therapy or counselling, we are here to help and welcome you to give us a call to schedule an introductory consultation. We can help address any concerns you may have and remember, we are here for you.