Are you considering counseling? Maybe you feel you might benefit from counseling, but have heard negative comments about the therapeutic process. Unfortunately, there is a lot of misinformation out there. As a therapist in San Diego with over 15 years of experience, I can definitely speak to this issue! If counseling is something you’re contemplating for the New Year (or any time of year), I hope the below will be useful helping you decide whether counseling is right for you.
1. Counseling is only for severe problems.
Counseling can be beneficial for a wide variety of issues including stress, relationship problems, life transitions, anxiety, spiritual issues, codependency and much more. Of course, therapy can also be beneficial for those suffering with severe problems as well, but those issues are often dealt with through hospital outpatient clinics. The vast majority of people who see a therapist are everyday people.
2. Seeking counseling is a sign of weakness.
It takes strength and courage to seek out counseling and be willing to explore sensitive issues and what are sometimes painful experiences. It also takes courage to take an honest inventory of yourself and assess your limitations and evaluate where you may benefit by making changes.
3. Counseling is a long and drawn-out process.
The length counseling will vary from one client to another, depending on his or her motivation, goals and the depth and breadth of the problem/issue being explored. However, for most people, counseling does not go on for a long period of time.
4. The counselor will fix my problems for me.
Your counselor cannot fix your problems for you. However, he or she can help you find the solution yourself by suggesting the incorporation of helpful tools, reflecting back unhealthy and unhelpful patterns of behavior, and encouraging you to achieve your goals.
5. Counseling never works.
The benefits of counseling and therapy are well documented. If you or someone you know have had a negative experience with counseling in the past, it may be worth your while to give therapy a try again.
6. Going to counseling is a sign that I’m helpless.
Counseling is a way to take control of your life and help yourself. Speaking with a counselor is an excellent way to analyze and examine your feelings, thoughts and behaviors to make positive changes in your life.
7. A counselor will try and change me.
A good counselor will never require you to make changes that you do not like, or that go against your values or beliefs. The therapeutic process is designed to help you make positive changes.
8. Counselors don’t know me, so they can’t possibly help me.
The fact that a counselor doesn’t know you is actually very beneficial to the therapeutic process. Since he or she is not a part of your everyday life, an impartial view and perspective can be given to help you gain better insight. Through the therapeutic relationship, they come to know the parts of you that are helpful in counseling.
9. Counselors don’t talk; they stay silent and nod.
Good counselors are very engaged and active, asking questions and offering a lot of feedback to help lead you toward your goals.
10. Everyone will know I’m in counseling.
Counselors are bound by law to protect your privacy and confidentiality. Only extreme exceptions allow for the breaking of confidentiality and those are spelled out at the beginning of counseling. The only way someone would know you’re in therapy is if you tell them!