8 Myths about Counselling
The concept of Counselling has been a debatable topic all through the years. While there are some who have taken that leap of faith to seek help from a professional and benefitted from it as well, there are those who choose to stay away from it due to a variety of assumptions that it is surrounded with until today. The crux of it all, however, is the existence of stress and anxiety.
A study conducted by the famous Cadbury company with participants aged between 25-35 years old stated that:
- About 57 percent of the people were said to be losing touch with their emotional side due to over-dependency on technology, which primarily includes keeping a constant tab over one’s various social media pages
- Another 77% of the participants wished they had somebody to share their highs and lows with.
People continue to have inaccurate portraits of this concept in their minds such as:
- Distorted thoughts about those who seek counselling,
- The process of providing counselling and therapy,
- The kind of person a counsellor may be
These preconceived notions that revolve around providing emotional care to people has discouraged many from seeking help even when they happen to be in dire need of it. Some of the common triggers of stress are: relationship conflicts, anxiety, fear of uncertainty, rejection, or failure, financial stress, performance pressure due to competition and people’s expectations, as well as a disrupted work-life balance among others. For those who do end up seeking professional assistance, a common mistake they make is by waiting for things to exhaust them emotionally and lead to a complete burnout before agreeing to take the plunge.
The idea behind this post is to burst certain myths about Counselling so that one is able to convince themselves to seek help when they wish to, and not wait for the wave of stress and anxiety to engulf them completely. Let us take a look at what they are:
You are mad if you are being counselled
As disrespectful as it sounds, people commonly associate the word ‘mad’ with those individuals who seek Psychiatric help due to certain challenges that have sabotaged their ability to successfully carry out their daily tasks, as well as impacted their relationships with those around them. Counselling is seeked by those who are facing trouble while trying to lead fulfilling lives, despite being capable of performing their tasks on their own. They may also include people who may be part of the top management of a MNC, leaders of an organisation, or great orators. One needn’t be experiencing a lack in their skill sets to undergo stress and want to get help.
People who ask for help are weak
This is a common issue faced primarily by adolescents and teenagers who may otherwise appear strong, bright, and cheerful to the world, but may internally be struggling to cope with their emotions and feelings. Many a times, we assume people who are strong and level-headed to not feel the need to seek help. In such situations, it is important to acknowledge the fact that we are not readers of the mind, and so it is absolutely possible for a person to experience emotional setbacks and want help to facilitate their personal growth and development, but not expose these setbacks to the world.
Counselling is only for severe issues
As mentioned earlier, a commonly made mistake by many is the fact that they decide to take help only when they have reached a phase of complete burnout. Why wait for a problem to reach the stage of severity? A healthier and wiser approach would be to nip the problem in the bud, and avoid a situation that has us feeling emotionally drained and exhausted. It is always easier to bounce back when one is yet to reach their point of saturation.
A counsellor should experience all my experiences to be able to help me
This is one question every counsellor must have been asked at some point or another. How can a person who has not undergone the same experiences as somebody have the ability to understand them and provide help? Let me give you the example of a doctor, here - when we are faced with physical ailments, our doctor helps us by analysing our issues and prescribing us prospect solutions; however, do they undergo our illnesses themselves to be able to make the right diagnosis? The way a doctor is able to help us deal with physical implications, a counsellor is also equipped to help us overcome our emotional barriers without having the need to experience what we have experienced.
Only known persons can help somebody
The very beauty of counselling lies in the idea that the counsellor is not somebody who is a part of your personal or social circle. This helps them to help you better, since the conversations that you have with them are free of judgement, unnecessary assumptions, and biases. People known to us have a certain image of us in their minds, which has the tendency to give rise to certain incorrect perceptions that they may form about us once they get to know the nature of our problems.
Counsellors can also be advice-givers
There is a difference between the words ‘advice’ and ‘advise’. The purpose of counselling is not to tell anybody what they should be doing by being advice-givers. It is rather a process that facilitates effective thinking for the person seeking help. It is not the counsellor that does the thinking for a person; the primary goal of a counsellor is to enable people to think for themselves instead, so that they can take better decisions. We can hence say that counsellors can ‘advise’ you things i.e., provide you with various prospect alternatives, but not give you an ‘advice’. Counselling provides one with the support they need, opens a window for them to vent out their feelings, gives them the acceptance they are looking for, and works towards emotionally empowering them to lead fulfilling lives by improving the quality of it.
Counselling is all about talking
A common thing that I personally have heard way too many times. To simplify things, counselling is about following the theory of 2:1, wherein we as humans have been equipped with two ears and a single mouth, and hence we listen more and speak relatively less, or only when required to. Counselling is about active listening, and speaking the right words in the right manner at the right time which enables them to provide effective and timely help to one and all seeking it.
Anybody can counsel
I often have people tell me how interesting this field is, and that they too can be professionals without feeling the need to acquire any sort of training beforehand. This is a very subjective statement. While many may be able to put on the counsellor’s hat without holding any credibility in the field, not all can pull off a counselling session. As a counsellor, one is expected to ban their thoughts, judgements, biases, and personal belief systems from interfering with their counselling process - something that is much easier said than done. It is not just about being able to comfort somebody with the apt choice of words, but also the ability to help somebody without allowing your core values and worldly perceptions that you may have carried for many many years to impact your conversations. It is similar to leaving your individual self behind while embracing your counsellor self, and donning the coat of sheer neutrality. Simply speaking, a layman may know what is going on, but may not be aware of the ‘why’ behind it.
In a world where stress is commonplace and can feel really overwhelming at times, sharing how you feel is a big step towards taking care of yourself. Don’t wait for peace to come to you, speak to an emotional wellness professional and discover relief!