Although for most people accessing counselling is no longer taboo, many still have misconceptions about what counselling is and what it is not.
Misconceptions about counselling are typically rooted in outdated ideas about psychotherapy. One myth is that counselling is for “crazy people.” Nothing could be further from the truth. Although some people wait until a small issue spirals out of control, counselling offers the opportunity to deal with day-to-day concerns while discovering tangible and effective solutions to present and past situations.
Another myth is the counselling is a crutch for weak people who can’t cope with life. In reality, there is nothing weak about seeking counselling. Counselling sessions are a vehicle for strong people who decide to face their challenges directly rather than allowing fear to rule their life. It takes inner strength to acknowledge a problem and seek to proactively and responsibly deal with the matter before it negatively impacts on the physical, emotional, social, and spiritual well-being.
One other myth is that if you have accessed counselling before and were not able to resolve your issues there is no point in trying again. Counselling, like any other relationship, is about developing a rapport between the therapist and the client. You may not have been able to develop that connection with a particular therapist; however, different therapists have different personalities and approach the counselling relationship slightly differently so trying another therapist is always worthwhile.
Counselling is an interactive, learning process that enables a person, couple, family, or group to sort out issues and reach decisions. Typically, counselling is sought out at times of change or life transitions or when a person is in crisis. There is no need to wait for a situation to become traumatic. Accessing help before an issue escalates makes the counselling much less complicated.
Counselling involves talking with a professionally trained person who helps the client develop self-awareness, learn to express thoughts and feelings rather than acting them out in inappropriate ways or inopportune times, solve a problem, understand and change behaviours, or learn new ways of looking at or approaching the present or past circumstances.
Counselling is best when performed face-to-face, in a safe environment, in confidential sessions between the therapist and the client. The counselling relationship is not about giving advice, fixing the person, or reading minds. It is about accepting and supporting the client to find answers that work for them. Counselling is a friendly and positive approach to personal development. Counselling can help the client face the effects of past experiences and seek ways to heal or overcome them. Clients usually find counselling a liberating and empowering experience. You can feel heard, accepted, and validated. In turn, you learn to feel better about yourself. It’s like “having someone in your corner.”
When a client seeks counselling they may feel nervous or overwhelmed and not sure where to begin or where it is that they want to go with the situation. Most people tend to be hard on themselves while a therapist is there to provide you with non-judgmental, caring expertise when you may be feeling isolated and discouraged.
Counselling today is often short-term, solution-focused, and centered on the individual’s strengths. The role of the therapist is to mirror back to the client aspects that are not clear for the person to see. A therapist will ask questions that you may not have asked yourself thereby leading you to recognize and understand aspects of yourself and/or your situation that you have not considered. Hearing your thoughts and feelings paraphrased adds clarity when the emotional turmoil swims around in your head. With the support of a counselling therapist you can take action towards healing and growth.
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