How Counseling Can Help
Myths About Counseling
You may have already experienced the value of having a good therapist to talk to. But if you haven't ever utilized this resource, you might be under the impression that counseling is just "talking about problems," and wonder how that could help. The reality is that your unique relationship with a therapist allows you to accomplish much more.
Self help books, workshops and tapes offer powerful ideas for growth. And yet, because these ideas are new and different from the way we have thought or behaved, we may have difficulty applying these principles in our own lives. Counseling can help us accelerate this process, working with us to fit new ideas into our world.
Consider this quote: “Courage doesn’t happen when you have all the answers. It happens when you are ready to face the questions you have been avoiding your whole life.” ― Shannon L. Alder
Knowing that you have had the courage to face your own fears and resolve them can give you a HUGE boost in confidence when encountering other difficult situations. Counseling also provides these other important benefits:
1. Confidentiality - Counseling provides a safe, protected way to talk about issues you may have been hesitant to disclose to anyone else.
2. No Judgement - A counselor will never cause you to feel shamed or judged. Your counselor's role is to help you come to an understanding of what led to your current situation and the best path for moving forward.
3. Trust - Your counselor knows that for you to grow, you need an environment that provides you with genuineness, acceptance, and empathy. This means that a counselor is willing and able to hurt WITH YOU, without getting lost in that hurt. You can count on your counselor to be an honest guide through the pain.
4. Identify Problems - Counseling offers you the opportunity to identify the factors that have contributed to your difficulties, and to deal effectively with the psychological, behavioral, interpersonal and situational causes of those difficulties.
5. Solution-Focused - Therapy is not just focused on talking about your problems. It's main purpose is to help you identify and implement solutions. Your counselor may provide testing to help you identify and maximize your strengths; teach you new skills, such as meditation or thought-stopping techniques; provide recommendations for self-care; or give homework, such as journaling about thoughts, feelings and behavior throughout the week. The most important thing to remember is that YOU ARE IN CHARGE of deciding what you want to accomplish. Your counselor's job is to help you get there.
6. Personal Growth - Counseling helps you to develop skills needed to cope with the present and prepare for the future. As you discover personal strengths, you learn how to use those strengths to grow stronger in other areas.
1. MYTH: "Counseling is only for people who are seriously disturbed."
FACT: On the contrary, the ability to ask for and accept help represents clear evidence of intelligence and sanity! The reality is that the majority of people in therapy are ordinary, everyday people dealing with ordinary, everyday problems. They are often struggling with problems in a specific area and seeking personal growth and development. Stressors and difficulties are a part of life for ALL people.
2. MYTH: "Everyone will know I'm seeing a counselor."
FACT: The fact that you are in therapy, the things you discuss with your counselor, and the contents of your counseling record are subject to strict laws protecting your confidentiality and privacy. Only in extreme cases where someone is in imminent danger or a judge mandates release of counseling records can confidentiality be broken. Outside of these circumstances, information can only be shared if you share it or you provide written authorization for releasing information. A good counselor will explain confidentiality to you at the beginning of counseling.
For those who feel highly vulnerable to the judgment of others, the confidentiality and safety provided by a therapist can be the reason they step out of their comfort zone and see a counselor. Like a safe confession, therapy is a place where all thoughts and feelings are welcome.
3. MYTH: “Therapy is endless and will cost a fortune.”
FACT: Although we may all go through periods when we need the guidance of a therapist, therapy is usually not endless. It is true that some people choose to stay in therapy for decades. Occasionally this is a result of the therapist encouraging or fostering dependency, and sometimes it’s because the person in therapy has decades of work to do to undo the effects of the past, but usually when someone stays in therapy for this long it's because they are utilizing the therapist as a touchstone, an objective person who will provide honest feedback and guidance as the person moves through various life experiences.
A 2010 study in the American Journal of Psychiatry concluded that nearly half of people in therapy use only three to 10 sessions. One in nine has more than 20 sessions. The reality is that many people don’t stay in therapy long enough. Many run away when they begin to feel too vulnerable, and others have their therapy prematurely terminated by the therapist before doing the deeper work.
Some therapy approaches follow a cookie-cutter, time-limited approach. These approaches put way too much emphasis on demonstrating that therapy can be completed within a certain time period, which probably puts these approaches in the favor of insurance companies, which like standardized, time-limited benefits for financial reasons. Of course, many people are also drawn to short-term therapy for financial reasons. And no doubt therapy is expensive! But good therapy is worth the time and the money you invest. You should be getting your money’s worth if you’re seeing progress and making the changes you want to make.
There are many common reasons people dismiss or avoid therapy, most of which are perpetuated by a host of myths and misinformation. Inaccurate images of what clients seeking counseling are like, how time is spent in counseling, and the nature of the counseling relationship are often found in media images.
If you've discounted therapy for any reason, explore the following myths to see if any have kept you from finding happiness:
If you're still not sure whether you would benefit from counseling,
contact me for a free consultation - this is a great way to find out whether I can help!