COUNSELLING: FACTS AND MYTHS

Like any other existing thing/concept in the world that has many misconceptions and myths associated with it, counselling is also like one of them. In order to understand what are the facts and myths associated with counselling we first need to understand what counselling exactly is.

Counselling is a professional relationship between a ‘trained counsellor’ who has sufficient theoretical and practical knowledge and ‘client’ that empowers diverse individuals, families and groups in order to achieve their mental health, wellness, education, career goals. Counselling will help the client to understand and clarify their views about their life-space. Life-space means an individual’s own phenomenal world, beliefs, values, views and thoughts. Through counselling sessions clients can be helped to reach their self-made and self-determined goals. Counsellor will provide various suggestions and alternatives to the client and then both counsellor and client will mutually decide the goals to achieve. Basically a counsellor empowers the individual (client) to help his/her own self without depending on others.

Counselling as a specialized process has various myths which we will rectify by stating facts. This is important because most of the time people misunderstand it and have a negative perception about it which further leads to many stigmas. So, the various myths and their fact check/correction in relation to counselling are as follows:-

Myth Fact
Counselling is for people who are ‘Crazy’, ‘Major Issues’ or have serious mental and emotional disorders. People who opt for counselling are not at all ‘Crazy’ or ‘ill’. Everyone has challenges and difficulties in their life, so opting for professional help is a sign of strength.
Taking counselling is a ‘sign of weakness’ No, it is not a sign of weakness rather it is being responsible, courage that an individual decided to go through the sensitive feelings and experiences. 
The counsellor will ‘fix’ all your problems. Counsellors will definitely help you solve your problems, but they are not ‘quick fix’ to all your problems. Their job is to help you understand your own feelings, thoughts, concerns, etc in order to reach a mutually-decided goals.
Counsellor will not be able to understand you unless he/she has similar background. Counselling are professionals who are trained to be sensitive and respectful towards individual differences (ethnicity, community, religion, age, socio-economic status, sexual preferences). Some also have specialization in Multicultural counselling in order to deal with clients from diverse cultures and places.
You don’t have faith in God if you opt for counselling Having faith in the divine existence is always beneficial, but apart from that if an individual is opting for counselling then it has nothing to do with his or her faith because this process provides tools and skills to handle their problems effectively. So, seeking counselling is not wrong and not a cheat to your faith in God. There is even a saying that “God helps those who help themselves”. We can apply this saying to this scenario where the ­­individual is trying to help his own self, and then God will also help him in his life.
Counselling will take a long time to be effective. Counselling does not have to become a huge part of your life, so how much time it will take depends on the needs and the counsellor comes with a treatment plan as per these needs and he/she determines constructive ways to reach goal within a certain amount of time. Along with it, counsellor provides you with maintenance tools that you can use whenever you come across any problems in future without depending on therapy anymore.
Counsellors will blame you and shame you. It’s a common misconception, but a good therapist is interested in healing the client instead of blaming and shaming. This misconception is mostly because of the way media portrays counsellors in an inappropriate/ bullying way. Without shaming only the relevant details are discussed to find the root causes.
Counselling is common sense. This is one of the most common remarks that we hear. But in true sense, common sense is just wisdom that applies to everyone. And Counselling gives an insight to you and your needs. It utilizes techniques, theories, modalities that has been studied and researched rigorously. It is more than a treatment, it is a lifestyle choice.
Men are not in touch with their feelings and will not get benefited from counselling. Both men and women can benefit from counselling. Although it is true that woman seek counselling more often than man, but the amount of men choosing counselling services has increased over last 10 years, showing that men are becoming more open to counselling.

Countering the myths with facts is very important because people in general are very confused about discussing their hurtful feelings, sadness and anxieties. Due to this people have consistent uneasiness and uncertainty in their minds with questions like – Can this counsellor help me? Wouldn’t it be a waste of time? So, along with these already existing conflicts, if people even now don’t get straight facts about counselling then they will be the one who will suffer the most but eventually will not opt for counselling.

REFERENCES

BY- Aditi Choudhury

Masters in Psychology, 1st Division,

Utkal University