Counseling Myths 6-10

Myth #6: Counselors main method of responding is “How does that make you feel?”

This question represents another stereotype shown in the media.  Feelings are a topic explored in counseling, but they are not the only topic.  Further, this question is an inept way to initiate a conversation about feelings.  Counselors engage in communication with clients in a variety of ways with questions, reflections, clarifications, activities, establishing goals and more.  

Myth #7:  “I’ve (we’ve) been to counseling before and it didn’t work, so it wont work this time”

Counseling is an art as much as it is a science.  What I mean by this is that the counseling process is influenced both by who the counselor is and how the counselor was trained.  It is possible that previous unsuccessful counseling attempts “didn’t work” because the counselor’s personality and style was not a good fit for you.  It is crucial to note that not all counselors are trained the same. For example, going to counseling for addiction issues with a counselor who specializes in grief counseling will not be fully beneficial.  Going to marital counseling with a counselor who is only trained in individual counseling will not be fully beneficial. When choosing a counselor, ask questions about the counselor’s credentials and how they were trained to better ensure a successful counseling experience.  

Myth #8:  The counseling process is problem focus with pain and dark emotions as the primary topic

Although it is important for the entire spectrum of emotions to be freely (and effectively) expressed, counseling is not about becoming more stuck in the presenting issue.  The counseling process is focused on what the client needs to get out of the experience for the purpose of no longer needing to attend counseling. For this reason, client goals, dreams, achievements, strengths, and an awareness, acceptance, and expression of these often become the focus of sessions.  

Myth #9:  Faith based counselors will impose their values on me

If faith is not part of your belief system and you do not want faith to be incorporated into your counseling experience you can make this known to your counselor and she/he will respect this desire.  If faith is apart of your belief system, but you fear counselor values being imposed on you please know that it is our job as counselors to remain as objective as possible. Counselors are people and hold their own opinions and values, but it is ethically and morally corrupt to force value systems onto clients.  

Myth #10:  Counseling is a long and expensive process

Counseling is an emotional and financial investment.  However, if finances are a concern a number of options exist.  These options may include: a shorter session time, less frequency of sessions (not recommended for crisis situations), seeing a provisionally licensed counselor or counseling intern, or referral to a center that uses an income based sliding scale.  It is often said that counseling is the one field whose purpose it is to put itself out of business. Essentially, this means that the purpose of counseling encounters is to launch clients, so that what happens in the counseling room is something they have learned to create for themselves in their world outside of counseling.  Depending on the presenting issue, the client(s) level of investment/ activity, and the timing of intervention, perhaps a limited number of sessions will be required.

This is a continuation of a previous post. Please see “Counseling Myths 1-5”

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