Written by Lily-Jo - OCT 2017
For many, the idea of counselling can spur fear, worry or even embarrassment. But we’re here to shed some light! It is estimated that one in five Britons have visited a counsellor, so surely it’s not all that bad? Counselling can be a way of working through the root cause of issues like depression, anxiety and other mental health issues. We've got 5 myths worth busting for you...
Myth 1. The Counsellor Caricature
Counsellors come in all shapes and all sizes from all different races, cultures, religions, backgrounds, and walks of life. If you are serious about counselling, why not interview a couple of different counsellors first? Go with a counsellor that you feel you can relate to best. As a female, you might prefer a female counsellor? Or you may prefer a counsellor in their early twenties fresh out of study; or someone older with more life and counselling experience. Counsellors are trained to demonstrate three important core conditions. The counsellor should demonstrate congruence (genuine honesty), empathy (be able to feel your pain), and unconditional positive regard (non-judgemental attitude). If these core conditions are present , then the likelihood is that you will feel confident enough to trust your counsellor and a positive change should ensue.
Top tip: If you choose a counsellor that is a registered member of the British Association of Counsellors and Psychotherapists (BACP) then although they may be a stranger to you, they will be regulated and legit.
Myth 2. Talking to a stranger can't help
Counsellors are trained to listen to you. To help you find your own answers to your problems without judgement. Counsellors are trained to leave their personal stuff outside of the room. Therefore, when you enter the counselling room, it is all about you! What a privilege! Most sessions last for what counsellors call the fifty-minute hour. For someone to listen to you wholeheartedly for a full fifty minutes is luxurious. When was the last time someone really listened to you? When you share with friends or family you can often hear responses like: “Oh yeah, that happened to me when...” or “I know exactly what you mean because I...” and just like that the focus has switched from you, to them! It’s natural, but this isn’t supposed to happen within the counselling room. The counsellor should relate to you on a deep empathic level and often, the counsellor will have experienced something similar (although sharing that with you isn’t classed as appropriate!).
Myth 3. Counselling is for crazy ladies
Counselling is for anyone who feels that they need a listening ear in order to bring some fresh perspective into their life. You don’t need to be ‘crazy’ to have counselling. What is crazy anyway?! If you can afford it, then you can pay for counselling privately and use it as a preventative way of looking after your mental wellbeing - just like having gym membership and exercising your body. Counselling is a way of keeping your emotions in check. Counselling is one hour a week for you to talk about you. You may be going through your parents’ divorce and feel you are caught in the middle, or you may have lost a grandparent or friend. It could be that you are feeling the pressure of a promotion or your final year of university. Whatever it is you are going through, having someone external to talk to can be so refreshing and beneficial.
Myth 4. I can only see Christian counsellors
As a Christian you may not particularly want a Christian counsellor because it might be that your faith is in question and you want your counsellor to be more neutral. Or it may be imperative to you that you only see a counsellor that you feel shares the same faith as you. The truth is, outside of overt faith-centric counselling, if you get a well-trained counselor, then you will never know what their religious orientation is. There is a verse in the bible, 1 Thessalonians 5v21 that talks about ‘testing everything’. If as a Christian, you feel something is ‘off’ or ‘amiss’ within the counselling process, then challenge it. The counselling relationship is built on trust and on genuineness, so you are free to say ‘this doesn’t feel right’ or ‘this goes against what I believe’ and your counsellor should respect that..
Myth 5. Counselling is for everyone
Counselling is something you have to want. There needs to be a willingness and openness to give it a try and make a change. I’ve had clients in the past who have been prescribed counselling by their doctor, but they weren’t ready to go through the process at that time. Once you have established that you want to give counselling a try, then its important you choose a style that suits you. There are loads of choices and the beauty is that if one doesn’t work, you can try another. One size doesn’t fit all. There’s art therapy, group therapy, one to one counselling, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy - the list is comprehensive. If dealing with a specific trauma, there may also be tailored counselling programmes for you! The cost of counselling can vary depending on what part of the country you live in. There are many free services and you may be entitled to free counselling through the NHS. If you are paying for counselling privately then it can cost anything between £10 to £70 per hour. Some counsellors will adjust their fees depending on your income, therefore it is worth being honest over the phone with what you can or cannot afford.