Exploding the myths about counselling

There are many myths surrounding
the idea of counselling, some of which are rooted in outdated ideas about
psychology and psychotherapy. For instance: 
Counselling is a crutch, it’s for ‘weak’ people who can’t manage their
own problems; going to a counsellor means you are ‘crazy’, or one step away
from the ‘looney bin’; someone who doesn’t know me can’t help me; everyone will
know I’m seeing a counsellor; counselling involves months of lying on a couch
digging up my worst memories and talking about my childhood.  

Such descriptions, which generally
come from people who have never attended counselling sessions, can often
prevent people from seeking the help they need.

Challenging the myths

The first step in understanding how
counselling can help is to challenge some of the common myths and
misconceptions:

Counselling is not a crutch; it is
a means for helping people who have made the courageous decision to face their
difficulties directly. There is nothing weak about being in counselling. In
fact, it requires strength to take action toward solving personal challenges as
this includes taking on responsibility for one’s needs and perceived problems.
Practitioners work on helping people use their own inner resources to get their
needs met more successfully.

All of us experience various
hurdles in our lives, and speaking with an objective and non-judgmental third
party does not equal having a mental illness. Although many counsellors have experience
working with mental health issues, and various therapeutic methods can be used
by qualified counsellors in the treatment of such issues, seeking counselling
can often be more about seeking help when the world seems a little crazy. 

Counselling should be a safe,
objective, neutral space where you feel comfortable enough to share what you
want, and speaking to someone unfamiliar to you or your family can often be one
of the most helpful elements of counselling. Since counsellors have training
and experience with people who are facing various forms of challenges, they may
often ask questions or share observations that can reveal things that
conversations with friends or family members may not. These revelations can
lead the client to make the decision to take action towards positive growth in
their lives. 

Confidentiality is an essential
element of the counselling process and should be discussed with you during your
first session. There are exceptions to confidentiality, but these exist only
for legal and safety purposes, and should be clearly outlined by the
counsellor.

Counselling can be either short or
long term, depending on client goals and preference. A person may decide to
visit a counsellor only once, or they may determine that a few visits would be
helpful, or that an ongoing process is needed; a counsellor can help you with
this decision and should ask what you want. Clients should be seen as the
experts on their own lives and the therapeutic process should involve teamwork
and collaboration focusing on concerns chosen by the client. 

The focus of counselling

Although past experiences can have
a profound effect on us and how we feel about ourselves, these do not have to
be the focus of counselling. Psychodynamic counselling or psychotherapy focus
on how past experiences may contribute to difficulties being in the present,
but there are other therapeutic models, such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy
or Solution Focused Therapy, that are short-term forms of counselling and focus
on solving your present-day problems by dealing with the here and now.

The Employee Assistance Programme
is designed as a brief treatment service based on one to 12 sessions using a
variety of treatment models depending on a client’s areas of concern; outside
referrals can be made for those who decide on a longer term process.

Counsellors can help with a wide
range of problems, difficulties, and concerns. These may be of a personal
nature, or may involve relationships, family issues, or work. A person can
bring any challenge that they feel is making it difficult to live their life
the way they
want to.

Counselling should not be directive
or advisory, but rather act as a mirror; we have all had experience of not
being able to see things about ourselves without a mirror. Depending on what a
person chooses or is able to share, a counsellor can help to explore how to progress
toward living in a way that feels healthier and more positive to them.

For more information on this topic,
or to schedule a confidential appointment, contact The Employee Assistance
Programme, at 949-9559 or visit the EAP’s website, at www.eap.ky

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