It seems that until recently, most people were uncomfortable discussing counseling because of the stigma attached by our society and culture. Even still today, there are those that prefer to keep their counseling a secret for fear of what others will think.

As a result, there are still some fairly big misconceptions about counseling and therapy.

Here are three of the most common misconceptions.

It’s Just Like Talking To Your Friend

While friends and family are there to listen and support you, they are not equipped to guide you to real solutions for your problems. Often friends and family struggle with providing objective feedback. Therapists on the other hand, are qualified and trained to help you by offering more than just good advice.

Counselors have been trained to have a deeper understanding of human nature. Many therapists are naturally gifted in this area and have an intuitive ability to read people and situations. They can help you recognize your own behavioral patterns as well as offer tools to make necessary adjustments. They can also help you to gain a fresh perspective on the events of your life and the choices you’ve made.

And finally, most of us don’t always want our friends or family to know the very intimate details of our lives. Therapy is confidential and your therapist’s only vested interest is in helping you improve yourself and overcoming your challenges. So it is generally easier talking openly with them. But remember, only by being completely honest and transparent about your life and yourself can you hope to create lasting change.

Tell Me About Your Mother

Many people assume therapy consists of spending 45 minutes each week blaming their parents for all their problems. Most expect the first question to be, “tell me about your mother.” Therapy is not about playing the blame game; however, therapists do have to look at a client’s history to get a clear understanding of their experiences and patterns.

Many people new to therapy may not want to spend any time “wallowing on the past.” However, it is important to understand that the first phase of therapy is to gather information. A therapist must ask some questions about your life history in order to truly understand you.

Past experiences do you have a way of shaping our personalities, and while your therapist is not interested in having you lay blame on anyone, you will need to provide a brief history in order for the therapy to be successful. 

You’ll Start To Feel Better Immediately

People new to counseling often make the mistake of quitting when they don’t feel better after one or two sessions. In fact, usually there is a period when things may feel like they’re getting worse before they get better. This is usually due to increased awareness.

For example, my initial focus with clients is to help build insight into negative thought patterns and behaviors. Once this is accomplished, if the client continues engaging in behaviors they are now aware contribute to negative emotions, this can lead to increased frustration.

This is why setting expectations at the onset of counseling is crucial.

The reality is, it will take one or two sessions just to tell your story and develop a good sense of trust and rapport with your counselor. In some cases, this can even take longer depending upon your comfort level with being open and transparent with your therapist.

Therapy shouldn’t be thought of as a quick fix but a process that is unique to each individual. It’s important to understand that the process won’t always feel good, though it will be completely worthwhile in the end.

James Killian, LPC is an anxiety counselor in New Haven area. He is also the Principal Therapist & Owner of Arcadian Counseling where they specialize in helping anxious people take back control of their lives, stressed parents feel more at peace, and frustrated professionals achieve their goals. If you’re struggling to get to the next level or life has recently thrown you for a loop, call today for a free consultation.