Myths about Counselling
Counselling, is an exchange relationship, in which a trained counselor, who is professionally competent in relevant psychological skills and knowledge, seeks to assist the client, by methods appropriate to the latter's needs and, to help the client learn more about himself and to accept himself.
A counselor can be a psychotherapist but he/she necessarily isn’t one. People practicing this profession are facilitators of positive change and growth in the lives of their clients. Counselling psychologists, in particular see clients with life problems, confusion (in decision making, e.g. career), cases of mild mental health issues. Different mental health professionals have different credentials, training, skills, knowledge and provide services in accordance with them. Furthermore, different mental health professionals deal with different cases. For complicated and severe mental health issues, it is best to see a clinical psychologist, psychotherapist or a psychiatrist.
Busting #Myth number 1: People who go to Therapy are “Crazy”:
It is often the common notion that people seeking mental health help are crazy. In India the remarks people come up with are appropriate examples of this belief. For instance, it’s not uncommon to hear ““Unka ladka pagal h, maine usse therapy pe jate dekha” (His son is crazy, I’ve seen him going for therapy). The adjective ‘crazy’ is associated with extremity in behavior, aggression, over excitement etc. To use it for instances where someone is seeking help for their own wellbeing is absurd as well as wrong. It is discouraging and provides for augmentation to the already existing stigma around mental health.
Think: You wouldn’t call someone crazy who is seeking physical therapy/treatment to recover from an accident, would you?
Busting #Myth number 2: Therapists are Mind Readers:
This myth is just not associated with counselors, but all psychologists. The first sentence most people come up with after hearing the word ‘psychologist’, is ‘so you can read my mind?’ It baffles professionals that even after years of education, training and experience, they have to come across such trivial comments. Counselling, psychology, therapy are science; whereas mind reading is called ‘telepathy’, which isn’t a science. The training that mental health professionals, specifically counselors go through is therapy, research and theories oriented. Contrastive to popular belief, counselors work on the client’s verbal and nonverbal communication. There’s no mind reading or assumption making is involved.
Think: Have you ever met a counselor who promised you that they could read your mind and prove it to you?
Busting #Myth number 3: Counselling isn’t as effective as Medicinal Treatment
Of course, we have come a long way with science, technology and medicine. Most of our physical health issues are dealt with medicine. Yes, that’s right, ‘most of’, ‘not all’. It has been scientifically proven that counseling, therapy and mental health support have facilitated people with cancer, AIDS and similar severe diseases to live longer, healthier and happier lives. Moreover, mental healthcare doesn’t necessarily need medicinal support unless the cases are severe and have a biological disposition. Most mental health issues do not need medical intervention, therapy goes a long way. Counselors do not prescribe medicine and they do not have to. They deal with cases which do not require pathological and severe care. Counselling is more solution oriented, facilitative care.
Think: Would therapy have existed for more than a century and continue to grow if it weren’t effective?
Busting #Myth number 4: Counselling/Therapy goes on for years:
Well, this isn’t entirely wrong. By years, it can go on for a maximum of 1-2 years. As counselling is more solution oriented and doesn’t deal with severe cases, it doesn’t have to be this lengthy. Moreover, psychotherapy or clinical psychological intervention can be a long thing. Counseling is relatively short termed. It can range from as short as a couple of months or half a year stretch. It rarely goes on for a year and even more rarely does it go beyond that.
Think: Have you ever met someone who has been in counseling for more than 2 years?
Busting #Myth number 5: Counselors and other Mental Health Professionals only care about the paycheck:
Yes, people choose professions considering the monetary factor. But, it is not the only deciding factor. People in the mental health field could've gone for other careers, more lucrative careers and not spend half a decade in their education and training. They have intrinsic aspects which motivate them to be in this field. Besides, counselling and psychotherapy have an ‘exchange relationship’ aspect. It is a facilitative care. Thus, counselling is more to counselors, than just money.
Think: Did you decide your career with just ‘money’ as your deciding factor.
Busting #Myth number 6: Counselling is basically Complaining about Family:
There is much more in counseling than ‘complaining’, let alone just family issues. Issues in life stem from different parts of life and not just family. Moreover, a great deal of families are supportive and provide for a healthy environment.
Think: Do all your life issues come from your family only?
Busting #Myth number 7: Counselling is for the Weak:
Many well known celebrities, from different backgrounds have come forward with their mental health issues. Now is it easy to be a celebrity? Is it weak to put in consistent hard work to achieve goals, wealth and fame? No right? Then how can we support this myth! Also, it is really very brave to seek help for the issues that we have been suffering from. Opening up about emotional pain can be really difficult. We should not only support but also appreciate and celebrate when people are able to overcome deep rooted issues, grief and trauma.
Think: Would you mock your favorite movie star who sought therapy by calling them weak?
Busting #Myth number 8: Only People with Major Issues or Trauma go to Therapy:
Yes, they do, but so do people with mild discomfort, moderate issues and they should continue to. Major issues and severe trauma wouldn't have been the case if we would’ve sought early intervention. People’s dealings with change, failure, problems etc are different, not everyone can be as resilient as we are, some people are more resilient than us. The right cause to go to therapy shouldn’t be because people say that it is a major issue or a major trauma. Rather, it should be because of your realisation that you’re going through something, that you’ll benefit from help.
Think: Do you only go to the doctor when you have cancer?
Busting #Myth number 9: Counselling is for the Lonely:
Being lonely is not always sad, characterized by depression, or deep rooted issues. Some people actually enjoy solitude. We should accept people as they are instead of making assumptions about them. If a person were really lonely, why would they seek help? And if it is so, we’d never found out who goes to therapy and counselling, because they’re so lonely. A large section of people who seek professional help are not lonely, they have a social life. Despite that, they face issues in life. Problems do not differentiate among people based on their social life. An extroverted person is no different than an introverted person when it comes to medical and financial issues; same is the case with mental health issues.
Think: Did you come across scientific evidence that counselling is only for the lonely?
Busting #Myth number 10: Counselling is Just Talking:
Talking helps in therapy and counseling, but it isn’t the same. Counselors are trained in providing counselling services. Counselling is a stage process with a progressive direction. Talking as in “revelation, communication and sharing” are important to the process of counseling. It helps clients with their grief and sorrow. Thus, Counselling isn’t just counselling, it’s a mode of expression.
Think: How else do you generally express your feelings or thoughts, if not by speaking or talking about it to people?
Busting #Myth number 11: Online Counselling and Therapy is not “Effective”:
The rapid technological advancements has proven that anything which can be done offline, can be done online at a relative faster pace. COVID -19 and worldwide lockdown could be termed as testing points for online counselling and therapy. Long before the global pandemic, research studies had already favored online therapy and declared it as an effective alternative as well as an effective option alongside conventional therapy.
Online therapy and counseling have always been backed by provision of , affordable, comfortable and secure mental health services which could be accessed even in remote areas. It has also proven to be convenient for people with hectic schedules as the cost and time of travelling is absent. One of the less popular benefits is that people who do not seek out help due to the stigma and avoiding shame from the society can gain access to therapy from the comfort and confidentiality of their homes. At TalktoAngel, we have always believed in delivering effective online therapies with many content and happy clients.
Think: Why would professionals provide these services online if they were not equally effective?