Many people don’t understand what counselling is all about or they have a misinformed idea of counselling (laying back on a couch, talking about your dreams). So I thought I would clear up some misconceptions of what counselling is and isn’t. I should mention that I use the terms counselling and therapy interchangeably.
Let’s start with what counselling isn’t. I sometimes joke that I missed the day in school where they hand out the magic wands. Therapists are not magicians. We can’t fix your problem – that is your job. It is unrealistic to think that speaking with a therapist for an hour a week will solve your problem, and you are only setting yourself up for disappointment if you go into therapy with that mindset. The real work of therapy happens outside of the office, where clients are able to practice the new skills they have learned. Like most anything in life, you will get from therapy what you put into it. Counselling is also not for people who are weak or can’t solve problems by themselves. It is a service that most people can benefit from at one point or another. It takes an extremely brave person to reach out for help.
So what is counselling supposed to be? Since there are so many different ways of approaching counselling, (over 400 theories – wowzer) there is no one size fits all. Some approaches work great for some clients and not so great for others. Since therapy is a very personal, intimate experience (and therapists are people too) sometimes clients and therapist just don’t click on a personal level. That is ok. What is most important to know is that counselling is your time. It is your therapist’s job to provide you with a safe place to talk, to listen, to be supportive, and to provide you with different strategies or tools to help you move through the issues you may be dealing with. If you are not feeling understood by your therapist, or are not getting what you need, I strongly encourage you to talk to your therapist, and if need be try out somebody different. Most therapists just want their clients to get the help they need, whether that’s with them or another therapist. Remember – its’ your time!