8 common misconceptions about counselling
Mental Health challenges affect millions of people around the world. In any given year, 1 in 5 people in Canada will personally experience a mental health issue, according to the Canadian Mental Health Association. Unfortunately, misconceptions and myths around counselling and talk therapy often discourage people from seeking help and contribute to the stigma surrounding mental health issues.
The truth is that counselling has the ability to help almost anyone with mental health concerns, social issues and personal development. But another truth is that every person is very unique – they will respond to and experience counselling differently and a method that works for one person is not necessarily going to work for someone else. If you have tried counselling before and didn’t find it helpful we encourage you to try again, with a different counsellor and/or different method. At CCC we monitor our client’s progress and if they are not achieving a certain level of well-being we modify/adapt the method of counselling, including if needed changing the counsellor.
Here are 8 common myths about counselling, and then a more realistic version of what you can expect from the counselling experience.
Myth 1: Counselling is only for major issues or “crazy” people
Yes, counselling can help you through major life issues and traumas but those aren’t the only situations where counselling can work for you. Sometimes we just need someone unbiased to talk to about a situation or feelings we’re having – and that’s okay. It’s normal to seek help for problems large and small or simply when you’re not feeling quite yourself and you don’t know why.
Counselling dose not need to be used as a reactive measure when life gets hard. It can also be preventative and help provide you mental and emotional tools and strategies to use in future times of stress. We see physicians for prevention through annual check-ups – we can think of counselling in the same way
Myth 2: Admitting that you need help and going for counselling means you’re weak
The concepts of weakness and vulnerability tend to get confused with each other. There is vulnerability in sharing what you’re going through and what you’re feeling, but that is not a sign of weakness. It is courageous to open up to someone. It’s an act of strength to take steps to better yourself when you’re not feeling your best. Vulnerability is not a weakness but rather a quality to take pride in, not be shameful of.
Myth 3: Counselling doesn’t help or will make the situation worse
Every person is different, and every person has different needs – the results from counselling are not going to be identical for everyone. But most of the time, counselling will provide you with support, new perspectives, and a plan to tackle your problems.
At Calgary Counselling Centre, we use what’s called Feedback Informed Treatment so from our data we know that over 94 per cent of our clients at Calgary Counselling Centre stabilized, improved, or recovered as a result of counselling in 2017.
We also monitor the progress of our clients and adjust treatment as needed to ensure the best results.
Myth 4: The counsellor doesn’t know me, so they can’t help me
When things aren’t going quite right and we want advice, we turn to our family and friends – people that know us and care about us. Having social connections is extremely important for maintaining mental wellness but our loved ones normally don’t have the skills or the objectivity needed. We’re not recommending that you turn away from loved ones or that their advice can’t be helpful, but counsellors are an excellent additional resource to guide you through difficult times. An unbiased, impartial trained professional can give insight into the situations and feelings that you’re having that you would not be able to get from people that are close to you.
Professional counsellor’s training and experience can help beyond the well-intentioned advice of your loved ones.
Myth 5: Counselling takes a long time and costs a lot
The length of time, or number of sessions needed with a counsellor will greatly vary depending on many factors, such as:
How long you’ve been dealing with the issue
The severity of the problem
The time you need to make any necessary changes (i.e. Habits, copying mechanisms, etc.)
Calgary Counselling Centre’s research shows that our clients see positive change within an average of 8-10 sessions.
We believe everyone should have access to the best counselling services. For that reason we assess fees for counselling on a sliding scale – that means we take in consideration your income, as well as your ability to pay to when setting fees. No one is turned away because of financial barriers.
Myth 6: Couples counselling is only for people that have problems in their relationship
Just like you need to water a plant to make it grow, or practice an instrument to master it, you also need to work on a relationship if you want it to thrive. Take the plant analogy – you wouldn’t just water your plant when its leaves are wilted and it’s near death. You would water it on a regular basis, even when it’s healthy looking and vibrant.
Working on skills with your partner like communication, conflict resolution, and intimacy when your relationship is strong, is just as important as building on those skills when times are tough.
Having the desire to improve your relationship with some help doesn’t mean your relationship isn’t good or that it won’ last – it means that you care enough about your partner to invest in the relationship.
Myth 7: They will blame my parents for everything
Every struggle you go through is unique. And the process to heal from those struggles is going to vary. Much of your work with your counsellor will be guided by you – the areas of your life you want to focus on: past, present and future. For some situations it can be helpful to analyze your past and see how your environment and the people around you shaped how you respond to things today. Some situations are best solved by looking at current behaviours. Regardless if you and your counsellor analyze your past or your present, the most important thing to keep in mind is that counselling is not about assigning blame, but learning how to have a healthy mental outlook and have healthy relationships with yourself and others.
Myth 8: All counsellors are the same – If you didn’t have success with one, counselling won’t work for you
You don’t “click” with every single person you meet and everyone doesn’t respond the same way to the same exact form of any kind of treatment. Counsellors and counselling treatments are no different and not every counsellor will be a perfect fit for you. That’s okay. We want you to see results from your counselling experience. When you request counselling from Calgary Counselling Centre, we ask many questions to make sure you are assigned to the type of counsellor you prefer and that you’ll receive the type of treatment that is most likely to achieve the best results. If after a few sessions the relationship with you and your counsellor doesn’t seem to be a match, you can request another counsellor. We promise, your counsellor will not be offended by this, on the contrary, they want the best for you.
The same applies for the counselling treatment. If after a few sessions the counsellor doesn’t see the level of results expected, they will adjust treatment.