Most people will have a preconceived idea of what counselling will be like, they may have formed this based on other people’s experiences, TV shows/movies etc.. but the only true way of knowing what your counselling experience will be like is to actually start your own counselling sessions. Counselling is such a personal journey, no two journeys are the same even if you have been through something similar.
There is still a stigma attached to counselling/therapy which could really put people off attending sessions or looking into counselling in the first place. So I thought I would give my opinions/response to some of the comments I’ve heard people use as reasons not to attend counselling to see if we start to break down some of the misconceptions.
· ‘This person doesn’t know me; how can they help me?’ Would you really want to have counselling from someone you know? Counsellors don’t need to know you as a person to empathise with your situation. Some people actually see this as a positive, that they don’t know the counsellor. This way you don’t need to ‘protect’ them, you can be as open and honest as needed without worrying about how this is going to affect them, like you may do with family or friends so your true authentic self/feelings can have the freedom to come out and be explored without the worry of upsetting anyone.
· ‘I don’t want a stranger telling me what to do’ Counsellors aren’t allowed to ‘tell you what to do’ or ‘give advice’ – what the counsellor may do is discuss tools and techniques that could support/help you moving forward – it’s completely up to you if you use them, they are not going to shout at you for not doing so. What you do outside of session is your business. I describe counselling as a mirror – I reflect back what you’ve said but from a different perspective, this could help start to form a different way of seeing certain situations which then could develop into a different way of thinking/acting.
· ‘If I go, I’ll be in counselling forever’ Not necessarily. Some people do access sessions for a long time, some come and only have a few sessions and some people dip in and out throughout different parts of their life based on what they may need in that moment. It’s all about what you need as the client.
· ‘All counsellors are the same’ Nope. Counsellors are as individual as the clients accessing the service. Also, there are different theories of counselling which allows counsellors to work in different ways. I cannot stress this next point enough ‘You can request a different counsellor’ – if you do not gel with the person sat across from you, I guarantee you will not get the most out of your sessions, so what are you paying for? This is not a criticism of the counsellor or the client, you need to find the right match for you to get the most of your experience – this is why we offer the ‘Free Assessment’ call at High Hopes to give you an insight and feel into our service, our counsellors and the way they would work with you moving forward (should you want to)
· ‘Counselling only deals with the past’
You control the focus of your sessions. You can discuss whatever you choose to discuss and the counsellor will roll with that. If that’s the past - great, the present – fantastic or the future – brilliant – the counselling journey/ what you bring is completely up to you. Some things could link to the past and the counsellor may mention this but again, it’s up to you if you chose to explore this, the counsellor will not pressure you into talking about anything you feel uncomfortable talking about.
· It’s going to be so expensive
Depending on the type of therapy you are wanting to access there could be a cost to this and it could start to add up, however there are also free services out there offering tailored counselling services to their service users. If you are thinking about accessing counselling it may be worth looking into the different options in your area.
· ‘Going to counselling is a sign or weakness – you have to be damaged to go to counselling’.
I appreciate this is a stigma attached to counselling however in my opinion it’s the opposite, there is a real empowerment/strength in wanting to work on and better yourself. It’s all about how you chose to view something, is going to the gym to work on your fitness a weakness? Don't get me wrong, people may come to sessions to discuss something negative they have experienced/experiencing that they want to grow from - but again, is this really a weakness? *Again, these are just my personal thoughts/response to the above points, other people and counsellors may think differently*