Common Misconceptions With Counselling: My Experience

It probably took me over three/four years to pluck up the courage to go to my first counselling session. You should first and foremost never kick yourself for not going earlier as it really would not have been the right time for you. I knew I needed to go but I a) didn't want to, b) was in denial and defensive, and c) the cost (as I'm not using the NHS). If you have any comments on NHS counselling, I'd love to know. I didn't have the best experience with my doctors and wanted to see someone without a waiting list. Although I respect this isn't feasible for everyone and I feel very lucky to be able to finally go in the right direction with fantastic support.

One- So how do you feel about that? This is the most common.

If you've ever watched any comedy or movie (cough Freaky Friday) then you'll have a built-up image of a blasé therapist scribbling notes and wearing an ominous look, occasionally asking "so how do you feel about that?" and "how does that make you feel?" Then the recipient bawling in tears and communicating very little words. This definitely isn't a true representation, from my experience. Although, I have nearly cried in every session and this did surprise me. I'm not one to show my emotions too much in the form of crying, especially in front of people I don't know. I was completely surprised at how much I needed to let go and how much I did.

Every therapist will have their own way of working, with professional guidelines of how they choose to conduct a session. Mine works very much in the way that you get out what you put in and it's more of a comfortable conversation going in a positive direction. To unpick the past and relate to the present and future. 

Two- There is no interrogation, a pressure to provide certain information, and the therapist is NOT against you.

Following on from my previous point, you get out what you put in. You only reveal what you want to reveal, but the more you throw yourself into it the more you will begin to understand certain habits and feelings. You can go as slowly as you like and the therapist is there for you, it's in their best interest to make sure that you feel ok and that your voice is heard. Of course, if you feel those around you are the antithesis of this, it may put you off seeing someone. One hurdle of mine was a conflict with a family member training in the counselling field and then encouraging myself to go and seek counselling putting therapists in the same box as the family member. If I wasn't heard by someone training, would I be in the actual situation? The answer is, you are heard. Not everyone is perfect, not everyone should train. You will find the right person you connect with.

The therapist will never make you do anything you don't want to do but they will want to steer you in a direction if they think it will help. My experience has been very accommodating, warm and helpful so far and I am only on my third session. 


Three- That all therapists are the same and that information is given to all- not personal.

This is where my stubbornness comes into play. Not everything the therapist says is necessarily going to be right or what you want to hear but that's why you're there. The information feels tailored and my therapist barely writes notes but remembers things about me from previous sessions.

Never give up, the therapist is not a mind reader and it may take a couple of options to find out what the "cause" or contributing factor is. I know I can be very defensive, however, I have almost fully let my guard down in sessions and I'm only on session three. That means you must find someone you enjoy going to sessions with and this may not happen straight away, I was just lucky enough to want to go back to the first lady I saw. Baring I mind I had contacted people, scheduled sessions and not gone many times before. Every therapist works differently so don't give up if you're not in it with one person. 

Four: You don't need to be open-minded, you just need to actually want to change what's going on. 

I am not a very open-minded person when it comes to therapy. I'm like "these thoughts are mine, good luck changing them"- I know myself. I clearly don't and this clearly is not the case as I'm learning more and more each time about myself and about certain things. I want to change my situation, in fact, I need to. You have to want to change it otherwise denial will over-rule it. I've been there. I even said in a session, it feels like a cop-out if you say all of my problems are based solely on control. She agreed. I was surprised by that as I had pre-conceptions that that's all I'd be told and I guess that was me being defensive. You're not going to be pre-judged. A therapist will never categorise you or necessarily put it down to one specific thing. It's a journey ( I hate that word) together. I wanted it to be more than just control and it is, my therapist, respected that too. Things already feel like they're improving, although from my experience I've felt a ton worse... That's because you have to come to terms with things, remember things you don't want to and accept what's going on. However, in the long run, I know it will be positive. You just have to push through that section. I've become more open already and told people exactly what I think. Whether that's bad or good I don't know... But I'm already better at taking charge of my feelings.

There's no quick fix and everyone's time will be different to my own. Be proud of yourself for reaching out, even if you don't go to sessions the first hundred times. It took me a million times of reaching out and retracting. Plus numerous times of saying "no nothing's wrong" and being told nothing was wrong. Everything is a step, as long as you get there eventually if you need to. It's worth it. Do it for you, no-one else. You also won't go if you want to do it for others, you may feel guilty about not going sooner, but don't as it has to be because you want to.


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