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Updated: Sep 3, 2019

We all have certain ideas and biases about counselling and therapy. Read more to have a clearer understand of what counselling and therapy is.

Many people are afraid of the word counselling and believe that only very serious or severe problems need counselling aid. People sometimes think that talking to a friend or family member is the same as counselling. However, counselling is more disciplined and confidential than an informal interaction.

“Counselling is the skilled and principled use of relationship to facilitate self- knowledge, emotional acceptance and growth and the optimal development of personal resources. The overall aim is to provide an opportunity to work towards living more satisfyingly and resourcefully. Counselling relationships will vary according to need, but may be concerned with developmental issues, addressing and resolving specific problems, making decisions, coping with crisis, developing personal insights and knowledge, working through feelings of inner conflict or improving relationships with others.” (Definition of counselling according to the BACP)

Here are a few misconceptions and myths regarding counselling .

Only Serious Problems Warrant Counselling: People feel that you need to have a clinical diagnosis, or severe mental or emotional breakdown to go for counselling. While counselling is an essential part of the treatment for such issues, it is also available for anyone who needs some guidance, support, and motivation while experiencing a personal struggle or a life transition.

The Counsellor Will Judge Me: The basis of a good counselling relationship is trust and safety. The counselling relationship is a safe place for you to express and deal with issues. Feelings of being judged or misunderstood is counter-productive to the growth process. Therefore a counsellor will ensure that you always feel accepted and respected, regardless of what you share in a session.

Counselling Drags On For Many Years: Counselling usually lasts anywhere between 6 to 8 sessions. However, termination of counselling is a mutually agreed upon decision. Counselling only lasts as long as you need it. Once you feel that you have dealt with a situation or have learnt the needed skills to handle issues constructively, counselling can be terminated.

The Counsellor Will Prescribe Medication If I Tell Him/Her I’m Feeling Low Or Depressed: This confusion usually exists because people are unclear about the differences between a psychiatrist, psychologist and psychotherapist/counsellor. A counsellor cannot prescribe medication under any circumstances. Only a psychiatrist can, because he/she is a medical professional.

Counselling Is Very Serious And Sad. I’ll End Up Crying A Lot: While crying is a part of healing for a lot of people, counselling sessions aren’t always serious and emotional, but are often fun, exciting, affirming and very encouraging. You are very welcome to discuss lighter moments and triumphs. The counsellor will work with what you bring into the session.

Counselling is, above all, a relationship. No change or growth can be made through counselling without a strong and positive relationship with the counsellor. The counselling relationship is a safe place where you are met with respect, positive regard and no judgement. The ultimate goal of counselling is not only to solve problems, but also to equip you with the skills and confidence to deal with relationships, stress, and issues in the future.

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