Misconceptions about counseling
Far too often, people have misconceptions about what therapy is all about. Sometimes, these myths actually prevent people from getting what they need in counseling and prolongs their suffering.
- Myth: People who see a counselor are ‘mentally ill.’
- Truth: This is one of the biggest fears I hear about beginning therapy. Most people that see a counselor are not mentally ill at all. They are simply struggling with life challenges and need support to get through things. You are not mentally ill simply because you want to talk to a mental health professional. If I talk to a heart doctor, it doesn’t mean I have heart disease.
- Myth: You will be laying down, unable to see your therapist.
- Truth: You will be sitting in a very comfortable chair, with me right across from you. Psychoanalysis is the type of therapy that uses the sofa and is not the type of therapy I provide.
- Truth: Some forms of Psychoanalysis still practice having the client on “the sofa,” but it is fairly rare and extremely expensive (usually $150+/session, 3-5 times/WEEK, for years).
- Myth: You will have to re-live all of your past trauma in order to work through it.
- Truth: While you can certainly vent about stories that you have carried with you, there is no requirement to do this. Actually, if it looks like you are re-traumatizing yourself, I will likely stop you and talk about how you feel while recounting the story, then redirect to what you can learn to move forward. Read more about Crisis & Trauma here.
- Myth: If you do couples or family counseling, the therapist will probably “take sides” and just tell you or your loved ones what they are doing wrong.
- Truth: Couples and family therapy is not about finding who is wrong and why. It is about finding more effective ways of communicating with each other so that disagreements can be solved. Clearly, when somebody is doing something that is hurtful, or overtly “wrong,” we will process it, but I am careful to explore the intentions behind that behavior. For example, if a parent screams loudly whenever their teenager comes home a little late, we will discuss why the parent feels the need to yell . . . usually, it comes down to the fact that they are scared for the safety of the teen, and that they do not feel heard; so, in an effort to be heard they literally get louder, and when we add the tension of fear, the volume gets amplified further. Once the parent is able to calmly communicate with the teen AND the teen is able to hear their parent and show that they understand, things tend to go much smoother. Read more about Family Counseling and Couples counseling here.
- Myth: Your counselor will try to keep you in counseling so that you continue to pay them.
- Truth: Any counselor worth their salt wants you to graduate from therapy as soon as you are ready so that you can see that you CAN handle most of life’s curveballs on your own. I am always here if you need me, but I hope that you are able to see me as a resources to be called upon when you choose to, NOT because you can’t deal with life on your own; I see counseling as a tool that can be used as needed because my job is to help you find and build new tools that you can change out when things get difficult, returning to my office when you feel stuck.
- Myth: Counselors just tell you what to do.
- Truth: In reality, I try to guide you to find what works best for you. If I just tell you what to do, then you are more likely to become co-dependent and rely on me to get you through difficulties. This is not what therapy is about. I want you to become confident in your ability to recognize what is happening in your life and adapt to changing circumstances as needed. This means “teaching you to fish” instead of just giving you the fish. Rest assured, I will guide you, and sometimes will give very specific suggestions on things that will help.
There are many other myths that people hear about. Please get in touch with me and ask any questions you like before coming in. I am happy to help you decide what you need; and if I am not a good fit, I will help you find what you are looking for.