Healing strides blog
insights and resources from our team
Author: Micheal Weatherford
4 Myths about Counseling
For my initial blog post, I wanted to post on a topic near and dear to the counseling profession- Counseling stereotypes and misconceptions. Our society has several misconceptions about the varying components of the counseling process. Inaccurate images of what clients seeking counseling are like, what the counselor is like, how time is spent in counseling, and the nature of the counseling relationship are often engrained in the societal consciousness and portrayed in different mainstream media. Thinking these media portrayals are true can make seeing a counselor a difficult task. The four myths and realities stated below are in no particular order and provide a more realistic sense of the counseling process.
Myth #1: You have to have severe mental illness in order to seek counseling.
The Truth: It is true that some individuals with severe mental illness seek counseling in order to manage symptoms, but counselors also work with individuals on everyday problems such as sadness, grief, career transitions, relationship issues, and navigating other life stressors. I tell every person I know that they should go to a counselor. Not because they have some dramatic issue facing them, but because talking to an outside, nonjudgmental party helps to maintain a clear head and helps to navigate through those life stressors.
Myth #2: Seeking counseling is a sign of weakness.
The Truth: It takes a great deal of strength to go to counseling. This strength comes from the client’s willingness to share their experiences, thoughts, feelings, and emotions with someone they do not know. In a sense, they are opening up their world and being vulnerable to a stranger. Seeking counseling is also a way to proactively manage your problems. If you have a problem which impairs your ability to function on a day-to-day basis, a counselor can teach you techniques in order to increase your ability to function and to enhance your quality of life. Individuals also seek counseling in order to improve their already great lives. Counselors can help individuals develop skills that will help them excel in specific areas such as business, leadership, and sports. Taken these concepts together, one can see the individual is coming from a position of initiative and by extension strength when coming to counseling.
Myth #3: Men are not in touch with their feelings and will not benefit from counseling.
The Truth: Both men and women can benefit from counseling. The myth of men not being capable of expressing their emotions and thus not capable of benefiting from counseling has been a dated notion. As the 21st century as progressed, there has been a shift toward an increase in the men attending counseling; which suggests men are willing and able to express their emotions in a safe environment (Evans, Duffey, & Englar-Carlson, 2013).
Myth #4: The lives of counselors are perfect, and they cannot relate to the life problems of their clients.
The Truth: This myth is the most common myth I hear from clients and society as a whole. This myth suggests that counselors have their lives together, counselors do not have problems in their lives, and they cannot help their clients because they do not understand the life struggles of clients. This myth creates an image of counselors as being intimidating and not capable of empathy. At the same time, this view is an unrealistic one. Trust me… the lives of counselors are not perfect in any sense. Counselors go through many of the same struggles as their clients. They go through relationship issues, grief, job stress, anxiety, struggling to find life balance, depression, ADHD symptoms, addiction, past trauma, loneliness, and the other stressors many of their clients come to counseling to work out. It’s why I tell my counselor friends to seek counseling as well (see myth #1). Counselors need to process stress like everyone else. We are not immune to life problems and we are not immune to life stress. Let this revelation be a comfort to you as you pursue therapy.
Evans, M. P., Duffey, T., & Englar-Carlson, M. (2013). Introduction to the Special Issue: Men in Counseling. Journal of Counseling and Development, 91 (4), 387-389.
Loralea Allen M.Ed., LPCC-S
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