Dont Let Counseling Myths Hold You Back
Are you struggling with relationships in life? Do you find yourself worrying about something that might never happen? Have you ever felt powerless to make desired changes? Has a bad habit ever become a problem? Did a medical provider suggest that you need to make lifestyle changes? What about body image — are you comfortable in your own skin? Is your career fulfilling? Have you ever had a hard time letting go of something in your past?
If you have ever found yourself in a situation like one of these, or so many others, there’s a good chance that you might have benefitted from counseling. Unfortunately, misconceptions about counseling too often hold people back from reaching out for support. They may think about starting counseling for months or even years before they actually pick up the phone to schedule an appointment.
Below are examples of common myths about counseling:
I already know what I need to do, so what’s the point in talking about it.
Sometimes we need someone to hold us accountable. Maybe help us think outside of the box for new solutions or look at something from a different perspective. We are not always aware of the obstacles blocking us from our goals when we are emotionally in the midst of our challenges.
It’s uncomfortable talking to a stranger.
Your first therapy appointment should be focused on getting familiar with your counselor and determining if he or she is a good fit for you. You are always in control of how much you share. As you become comfortable with your counselor, it will not feel like talking to a stranger. If you determine your counselor is not a good fit for you, seeking another professional is always an option and encouraged.
I am shy and not much of a talker.
Therapists work with all different types of communicators. They are trained and experienced at helping people who do not naturally verbalize their thoughts and feelings. There are many creative ways a therapist can help you express yourself. A therapist can lead the session as much or as little as you need them to.
All therapists do is ask, “How does it make you feel?”
Unfortunately, this is how some like to poke fun at therapy. The truth is there are many different approaches to it. Helping you get in tune with how you feel about something certainly is part of therapy, but setting goals, healing, and working through challenges is very much a part of it, as well.
I would be embarrassed if someone found out I was in therapy.
Your therapy records are protected by HIPAA laws in the same way any other medical records are protected. The only way for others to know you are in therapy is if they were to see you in the waiting room. And if they are in the waiting room, guess what, they are going to therapy, too! It’s also OK to ask the receptionist or the counselor about the privacy of the lobby area prior to coming in, if that eases your mind.
I will use prayer instead of seeking counseling.
Prayer and counseling work effectively together. You don’t have to choose one or the other. If you are a religious person and you are diagnosed with cancer, I would guess you would quickly begin praying. However, you are still going to seek medical advice from a physician. Your mental and emotional health should be treated in the same manner. It is also possible to find a therapist who shares the same or is educated about your religious or spiritual beliefs and practices.
My challenges in life are not significant enough for therapy.
You don’t have to be in a crisis to come to therapy. The sooner you come in, the quicker and easier it will be to gain some control over the stressors in your life. When people wait until they hit rock bottom, they have a much deeper hole to dig out of.
I have friends and family I can talk to.
Having a good support system is a wonderful gift to have, especially when facing challenges. However, your family and friends are not professionals trained at helping you make the changes you desire. They are going to be biased based on the role they play in your life and may not always be able to help you look at things from all angles. You may also find yourself guarded in what you share with a personal contact vs someone emotionally removed from your life.
I don’t have time for therapy.
Many of us live very busy lives. It is true that something in your schedule may need to be sacrificed in order to make time for therapy. Your wellbeing is worth making that time!
I can’t afford it.
There are many affordable options for therapy. If you have insurance, it is likely you have a small copay for an in-network provider or maybe entitled to reimbursement for meeting with an out-of-network provider. Local universities, nonprofits, and churches often are able to offer sliding scale fees or scholarship funds to support you in getting the help you need.
It is my hope that clarifying some of these myths about the therapy process will help you reach out for support quicker the next time you find yourself facing challenges. I encourage everyone to have a therapist much like they have a general practitioner. This is someone you have established a trusted relationship with and can meet with throughout life, as needed.
Kristin Woodling, a licensed mental health counselor and certified marriage and family therapist, is the owner of Pamper Your Mind, LLC in Satellite Beach. She is devoted to providing a confidential and elite therapeutic experience to professional women seeking healing, clarity, and balanced lifestyle for optimal health. Woodling promotes strong mental health services in her community and teaches counseling at Webster University and Eastern Florida State College. She is a graduate of the 360 Ignite program offered through WeVenture at Florida Institute of Technology and enjoys volunteering as a mentor to help other professionals excel personally and professionally.
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