the provision of professional assistance and guidance in resolving personal or psychological problems.
Counselling can be a bit of a scary phrase.
For those who haven’t experienced a counselling session before, maybe scenes from a movie will come to mind - where the client lies down on a sofa and a therapist dressed in a blazer with a serious, monotone voice asks questions.
But the portrayal of counselling in movies is often far from reality.
There are often also misconceptions about what and who counselling is for, and what a counsellor (or someone in a related profession) does to provide support.
Misconceptions (or fear of the unknown) can prohibit people from accessing the counselling support they need. So here are five misconceptions about counselling that might make you think twice about seeking support!
Counselling is only for X people...
Counselling isn’t for any particular type of person or for any particular issue.
When we experience issues or challenges of any sort, it can be really helpful to talk to someone about these difficulties.
Sometimes we need advice, an opinion, or an alternate perspective; or sometimes we just need someone to listen.
Whether you’ve lost your job, experiencing relationship issues, dealing with loss or grief, feeling anxious or stressed, feeling down, or if you’re not content with where you are in life right now, speaking with a counsellor can help you identify ways to move forward in a positive manner.
There are many different professions which provide counselling-related services, and also many different areas that counsellors can specialise in. For example, counsellors can specialise in areas including relationships, grief and trauma, and addictions. Other related professions include therapists, psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers and chaplains – but each of these are unique and can offer different types of support, in varying scenarios.
Our counsellors at CatholicCare (or staff in related professions) can support men, women, children, young adults, mature aged people, couples, families, communities, and people of all cultural or religious backgrounds.
Counsellors will tell me what to do.
The role of a counsellor isn’t to tell people what to do or to fix their issues for them.
A counsellor’s role is rather to lend others their ears and eyes in a non-judgemental space.
Counsellors offer a sounding board where you can come to better understand yourself and the situations you’re involved in, so that you can work through challenges and make the most out of the life you’re living.
If you are looking for advice, a counsellor may be able to offer this for you. But the great thing about counselling is that you can tell your counsellor what you want to achieve out of your sessions together, and they will support you with this.
If you’re not quite sure what you want to achieve from counselling sessions, that’s okay too! There doesn’t always need to be a clear outcome from a counselling session, because sometimes just talking and letting out your thoughts is enough to help.
I’ve tried counselling once before and it doesn’t work for me.
Finding the right counsellor is a bit like finding a good friend! Because not only are there different types of counselling methods, but there are also many different types of people who provide counselling services, who come from all walks of life.
It is completely normal if you’ve felt like you haven’t connected well with a counsellor, or if you felt like they didn’t help - but it is important to understand that the experience you’ve had with one or two counsellors is not representative of all counselling types or of all counsellors.
If you are still looking for support but you haven’t found the right counsellor, try searching for a different type of counselling/therapy or ask for suggestions from your GP.
Clients need to lie down during counselling sessions.
The most common layout for counselling sessions is for the counsellor and client to sit opposite each other in chairs, facing one another.
It is important to counsellors that you feel comfortable during sessions, because it can be challenging to talk openly and freely when we don’t feel at ease. If you feel uncomfortable or nervous, or for example if you prefer not to sit facing each other, you can tell your counsellor your preference.
Some people will also struggle to talk openly in front of others, so if you prefer to have a counselling session over the phone, some counsellors will be able to facilitate this for you.
I need to talk about my feelings during counselling.
While discussing feelings and emotions can help a counsellor understand what you are going through, it is not essential to talk about your emotions with your counsellor if you struggle with this or if it makes you feel uncomfortable.
It’s normal to feel uncomfortable talking about your emotions, especially to someone you barely know! If you find that you internalise your feelings, bringing them out can also be challenging and can often evoke strong emotions/reactions, including crying – but this is okay too!
If you would rather not talk about your emotions, you can instead discuss other relevant things for you – for example, a difficult situation you are dealing with and what’s involved. Or the counsellor may suggest spending some time to get to know and feel comfortable with each other, so that you can build trust and feel more like you are talking to a friend, rather than a stranger.
It is important to note that every counsellor is different, so if you don’t feel comfortable opening up to one counsellor, we recommend trying a different counsellor to find one that works for you.
The experience of speaking with a counsellor will always be different for every individual, and a counsellor who works well for one person is not guaranteed to work well for another – because we are all unique!
But the bottom line is that counsellors are here to offer support – to be a listening ear, a sounding board, or a shoulder to lean on when times are tough.
If you would like to learn more about counselling at CatholicCare (for example the benefits of counselling, what counselling can help with, and confidentiality) click here.
Liz Gellel | Communications Coordinator