Myths about counseling and therapy
If I ask for help, either myself or others will think I am weak.
Sometimes reaching out for help can be the most difficult thing a person can do. Admitting that we don’t have all the answers takes great courage and is not a sign of weakness. In fact, the opposite is true.
Only “crazy” people see counselors.
Wanting to discuss an issue or problem does not make you crazy, it makes you human. We all need others in order to feel connected and understood.
Someone who doesn’t know me can’t help me.
Initially, the fact that I don’t know you can be an advantage in that the feedback you receive may be more objective.
The counselor might repeat to someone else what I tell them.
I am bound by confidentiality laws. The only way that what you say may be repeated is if you threaten to harm yourself or another person.
Counselors are psychic and can read my mind.
My job would certainly be a lot easier if this were true! But no, this is false.
Everyone will know I am seeing a counselor.
Only if you tell them!
I could lose my security clearance if I seek counseling
This is a big one, especially here in the DC metro area. Clearly, the answer is no. Please refer to this page to see that this is patently false.
The counselor will try and tell me what to do.
I may make suggestions, or brainstorms about possible solutions or courses of action, but do not tell you what to do.
The counselor might try to change me.
It is not up to me to change you; it is up to you to decide what, if anything, needs to be changed. I can help you decide, but essentially you are in the driver’s seat.
My problems are so great that nobody can help me.
No doubt, life’s problems can be very complex. Sometimes they seem so big that we lose our perspective and can’t see the forest from the trees. I can help you break down big problems into smaller pieces so that they become manageable. I can also help you look at your problems in a new ways, in other words from a different vantage point.
The counselor is going to judge me.
We are all fellow travelers here. My job is not to judge you. My job is to provide a safe place where you are accepted and specifically not judged.
Counselors prescribe medication
I cannot prescribe medication because I am not a medical doctor. I do however have a doctor that I can refer you to if we think that would benefit you.
Counseling takes forever.
Not true. The amount of time you spend in counseling depends on several factors such as; how complex the problems are and how fast you resolve them. This is not something that can be predicted, it just depends on the person or the circumstances. That said, I am available to help you as long as you believe that you need help.
My problems are not severe enough for me to see a counselor.
Truth be told, problems are a very individual thing. You cannot compare your problems with someone else’s. What is a problem to one person may not be a problem for another. The only thing that matters what is a problem for you, not anyone else.
The counselor is going to make me dredge up my childhood.
I won’t “make” you do anything you don’t want to do. You have the power here, not me!
All I need is a pill to feel better.
Medication can be helpful, but the bottom line is, YOU CAN’T TALK TO A PILL, AND A PILL CANT TALK TO YOU!
So, what is a counseling session like?
Am I going to be laying on a couch?
No. I just have a love seat. Unless you are shorter than 5′ this would not work!
What is the office like?
My office is in my home. It is warm, inviting, peaceful and private.
What will we talk about?
Whatever is utmost on your mind.
What if I am uncomfortable?
I will make every effort to make you feel comfortable. It is not unusual to initially feel self-conscious or nervous at first but as we get acquainted this will change.
What if I don’t know what to say?
It may feel awkward at first, but as you become more comfortable and our relationship develops, conversation will naturally flow.
How is this going to help me?
The realization that you are not alone, that you have someone who cares deeply about you and your issues, may be the single most important element in explaining why counseling helps. The relationship between the counselor and the client is built on trust, and is the foundation for everything that happens in a counseling session. Having someone you trust, who is in your corner, is the greatest predictor of a successful therapeutic outcome. It’s what makes counseling work. Building trust is not instant; it takes time and effort just like any other relationship.
Counseling provides a safe, secure, confidential environment where one can voice problems, worries and concerns to someone who is trained to really listen and really hear you. A well trained counselor has developed the ability to be fully present and focused on you and what you are saying. Friends can listen, but often their view of your situation is not objective. Sometimes friends want to offer advice which is not necessarily helpful. A trained counselor provides an unbiased, objective, non judgmental feedback about your situation.
Counseling helps one to identify negative or illogical thinking patterns that contribute to feeling of hopelessness or helplessness.
Counseling helps one develop coping skills.
Counseling helps identify what you want to be different and provides a strategy as to how get there.
Counseling helps one to identify goals.
Counseling helps one regain control of their life.
Counseling can help relieve emotional pain.