Did you know that 1 in 4 US adults is diagnosed with a mental health disorder each year? According to the National Institute of Mental Health Disorders, 26% of Americans suffer from mental health issues, and many of them deal with more than one disorder at a time. Regardless of these statistical trends, even today, people often refuse to receive counseling and reach out to professionals to deal with their problems. Why?
Many times, the reason is long-standing misconceptions and myths about counseling itself. Unfortunately, myths about counseling and therapy often discourage people from seeking help and contribute to the stigma surrounding mental health issues. That’s why it’s important to debunk the myths attached to the counseling process and prove once again how effective therapy can be for your mental health.
Let’s discuss some of the most common myths about counseling and shed light on the truth about this important form of mental health support. Whether you are considering seeking counseling for yourself or simply want to learn more about the process, we hope this article will provide you with valuable insights and information.
5 Common Myths About Counseling
Myth #1: Only people with serious mental health issues need counseling
Do you believe that to go to counseling, you need to have a serious mental health diagnosis such as bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, post-traumatic stress disorder, or an eating disorder?
If so, you’re not alone, because one of the most common misconceptions about counseling is that it’s only for people with serious mental health problems. Yet, there is no proof of a diagnosis, and self-diagnosis and treatment can be risky and often not effective. First of all, no one has a diagnosis until they contact a professional counselor. But also, you don’t need to have any serious problems to benefit from counseling.
Maybe you just need to improve your social relationships or resolve career-related struggles. Remember that not making any effort to resolve your everyday problems, such as stress, can develop into a serious mental health disorder without proper treatment (Sanders, 2014).
Fact: Counseling can be beneficial for anyone, regardless of their mental health status. While counseling is often associated with severe mental health issues, it can also be helpful for people dealing with more common problems such as relationship issues, stress, grief, and more. No issue is too small to benefit from the guidance and support of a trained mental health professional. In fact, many people seek counseling to improve their overall well-being and learn skills to better cope with the challenges of everyday life.
Myth #2: Counseling is expensive and time-consuming
In our fast-paced world, people often think that no one has additional time or money to spend talking to therapists and prefer to solve their problems on their own instead of receiving professional treatment. However, they rarely take time to think about their issues and find proper solutions. As a result, they end up with either chronic stress, severe anxiety, or something worse.
But guess what?
The number of sessions you’ll need greatly varies based on how severe your problem is, what your needs are, and what type of therapy you’re receiving. For example, CBT consists of just 10–20 sessions, while more analytical psychotherapy can extend over the years. And regarding financial issues, there are various opportunities to reduce costs, including using insurance coverage. For example, at Health for Life Counseling Grand Rapids, we collaborate with a wide range of healthcare providers to help our clients reduce costs.
Fact: The cost and time commitment can vary depending on the route you choose. Private practice counseling can be more expensive, but many therapists offer sliding scale fees based on income. Community centers and non-profit organizations may offer counseling services at a reduced cost, and some insurance plans cover at least a portion of the cost of counseling.
Remember that it’s ultimately up to the counselor and the client to decide on the frequency and length of sessions that will be most beneficial. While counseling does require a time investment, it can be a valuable investment in your mental and emotional well-being. As they say, it is much cheaper to prevent a problem from occurring, than finding oneself in a crisis with a major problem to fix.
Myth #3: Counseling is only for talking about your problems
Sometimes people refuse to receive counseling as they believe the process involves only talking about their problems. Of course, we’re not always in the mood to speak about our problems. And what’s more, talk therapy isn’t the best solution to all types of problems.
Considering this, it’s not a big surprise that people who struggle with cognitive problems such as dementia or delirium and psychotic disorders such as schizophrenia, panic disorders, or phobias might not solve their problems only by talking to therapists. However, counseling includes a wide range of strategies for different mental health disorders.
Fact: While talking about your problems is certainly a significant aspect of counseling, it is far from the only thing that occurs in counseling sessions. Counseling involves working with a mental health professional to address and resolve personal, emotional, and behavioral issues. This can be done through a variety of techniques, interventions, and approaches, such as modeling and skills training, attachment-oriented interventions, trauma-specific interventions, and restructuring irrational thoughts using CBT techniques, among others.
In fact, some mind-body modalities such as EMDR Therapy, Somatic Experiencing Therapy, Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, and Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy actually don’t require as much talking as traditional counseling.
Counseling is a process that helps individuals develop strategies to achieve their goals. Keep in mind that counseling is an active process that involves both the counselor and the client working together to identify and address issues and make positive changes. While it may involve talking about problems, it is ultimately about finding solutions and empowering individuals to live their best lives. Counselors have knowledge, a range of techniques, and the ability to research and find the right interventions to help you with your unique situation.
Myth #4: You have to be open and vulnerable to benefit from counseling
One of the main reasons why classic psychodynamic therapy helped clients significantly improve their problems was that therapists helped clients open up and share as much about their thoughts and emotions as possible. Considering this, we can’t deny that being open is an important part of benefiting from counseling.
However, being open doesn’t mean that you have to be vulnerable as well. In fact, the most important thing is that you feel comfortable and safe in the counseling environment. It’s completely up to you how much you want to share in counseling, and no one is going to force you to share personal matters if you aren’t ready for them.
Fact: While it can be helpful to be open and honest in counseling, it is ultimately the client’s decision how much they want to reveal. The counseling relationship is based on trust and confidentiality, and the therapist’s primary goal is to create a safe and supportive space for the client to explore and process their thoughts and feelings.
That being said, it is often helpful for clients to be as open and honest as possible in order to get the most out of counseling. However, it is important to note that the process of opening up and being vulnerable can be difficult and take time. It is not something that happens overnight, and it is okay to take things at your own pace.
Myth #5: The counselor will fix all of your problems
And finally, if you think that a single encounter with a licensed counselor will help you overcome all the issues you’re facing right now, once again, you’re mistaken.
As a matter of fact, when it comes to mental health, there’s no universal and quick “fix” for anyone’s problems. Therefore, counselors can’t cure your problems themselves without your dedication. Instead, counselors and clients work together to determine the best possible solutions. They help the clients learn about themselves and develop adaptive coping strategies to become more resilient and deal with their problems effectively.
In fact, according to Neuroscience, the mind does take time in wiring itself in new ways–and counseling can help with that. If a person is willing to engage in mental health coping skills outside of sessions, some of the results can be astounding in just 60 days or so. However, this self-work is still a process and not a “cure.”
Fact: Counseling is not about “fixing” people or their problems. It is about helping individuals better understand and manage their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. The counselor’s role is to provide support, guidance, and tools to help clients work through their issues and make positive changes in their lives.
It is important to note that progress in counseling can be slow and that it is not a quick fix for problems. Change takes time and effort. Counseling is a collaborative process between the client and the therapist, and the most successful outcomes are achieved when both parties are actively engaged in the process.
As you can see, counseling is a powerful tool that can help individuals work through a variety of personal, emotional, and behavioral issues. Hopefully, after debunking the common myths about counseling, you will better understand this important form of mental health support.
Still, if you have any more concerns or questions about the process of counseling, don’t hesitate to reach out to our licensed counselors at our offices in Grand Rapids, MI, or Ada, MI, or talk to us online.
At Health for Life Counseling Grand Rapids, our professional therapists believe that counseling is a valuable resource for anyone looking to improve their mental and emotional well-being.