5 Common Counselling Myths

Mental health awareness is rising to the top of the agenda everywhere we look. Celebrity ambassadors are pushing for it, sufferers are calling for it. It’s finally getting the attention it deserves. Yet, as a counsellor I can’t help but wonder whether there’s enough awareness on the actual help we can get once we realise we’re struggling. As a society we’re breaking down the stigma around mental health, so my mission is to now break down the mysteries of therapy and to help people understand more about the next steps.

1. I’ve tried it before- it didn’t work

It’s true that counselling can often take time. Sometimes this means trying counselling for a few sessions before making a decision as to whether to continue. Other times it may be that you’re simply not connecting with that counsellor, in which case, it may be worth seeing somebody different. Remember that different counsellors have different styles too. It’s worth checking out if your counsellor specialises in one specific type of counselling, such as psychodynamic, person centred or CBT, or if they use an integrative approach.

2. I don’t want somebody to read me

To me, ‘reading’ somebody goes hand in hand with judging them and this is totally not what counselling is about. An intrinsic part of counselling ethics is that a counsellor does not assume they ever know exactly what the client is thinking or feeling, nor do they judge them based on what they say or do. Remember that you can choose to tell a counsellor as much or as little as you feel comfortable with. Ultimately, a professional counselling setting will create a safe place for you to talk at your own pace and absolutely not somewhere you’ll be ‘read’.

3. It’s too expensive

Yes, counselling can often be expensive and usually NHS waiting lists are extremely long. If you’re looking to go private, some counsellors may offer concessionary rates and it’s worth noting that prices do vary. There are also some fantastic charities and low cost services, it’s worth checking if there’s one in your area. I personally work both long term and short term with clients, depending on their needs. So if you feel 6 sessions is all you can afford, don’t write this off- I’ve seen huge changes in clients in just 6 sessions. 

4. I’ll just be asked, ‘how do you feel about that?’

This may be the generic phrase you’re used to hearing when it comes to therapy but it certainly isn’t the only thing a counsellor will ask. Although counselling naturally looks at emotions, a question like this may be totally irrelevant to your current circumstance. A good counsellor will work with you on an individual basis and may use a wide variety of techniques.

5. My problems aren’t severe enough

I find that a lot of people who enquire about counselling worry that they are not depressed, stressed or even traumatised enough to seek counselling. People will often say that they’re worried they’re taking up my time when somebody who ‘really needs help’ should have their space. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Of course to a degree there are different levels of mental and emotional problems; but if you feel that you may benefit from counselling you’re probably right and this is valid enough. I believe that our mental health should be a priority and by no means should we devalue our own emotions or problems by comparing them to someone else. 

Scarlett Jeffrey