We've seen it on TV and in the movies. You lay down on the squeaky leather couch while someone takes notes behind a pad of paper. You don't make eye contact, in fact, you're usually turned the other way. They don't empathize with you, in fact, they rarely speak. And the list of endless misconceptions and poor portrayal of mental health care goes on.
So when we go to even think about accessing services, our inner voice pipes up with flashbacks to the horror stories and experiences you've only actually experienced through someone else describing them to you.
My first experience with counselling
When I first went to counselling, I was 16. It wasn't the right fit and I've since stopped, been back, and now go regularly. But here's why I'm glad I went in the first place and some of the things I wasn't expecting...
1. It was not a silent office in a beautiful posh building. It was an office in a community center.
2. There was not a couch for me to lay down on. In fact, there were chairs and a desk.
3. There was lots of eye contact. We were face to face and I don't think she picked up a pad of paper once.
4, She did not tell my parents what we talked about. Everything we talked about was confidential unless perceived as a danger to myself or others.
5. I cried. And I still usually cry, therapy is not easy.
Getting to experience something firsthand is always enlightening, even if it takes a while to work yourself up to get there. I'm always a big fan of trying things at least once. Therapy or counselling, (used interchangeably) was no different. How would I truly know unless I tried it? As much as it wasn't the right fit and it ended up as more of a negative situation than anything, I'm grateful I was given the opportunity to receive support. I'm also grateful that I was able to learn what I needed/how I needed that support and what a good fit could potentially look like.
Fast forward seven years and I've worked with six more counsellors since then. Not to say they all weren't matches, but unfortunately, a few were students on their practicums who went back to school, some were on a temporary basis, but I'm hoping my latest rare find is in it for the long haul!
A few more big myths + misconceptions about counselling/therapy...
1. You're stuck with your therapist. No, you're not, at all. You can change your therapist as often as you change your underwear if you want. We recommend simply finding the right fit though ;)
2. I can't afford counselling. This is a huge barrier, we get it. Many services offer a one-time consultation, there are no-fee and sliding scale counselling services, medical plans will sometimes cover sessions, please reach out to us if you're having trouble finding services!!!
3. Only weak people go to therapy. BullSHIT. The strongest people go to therapy. You're willingly facing your own demons?? Bravo. You don't have to be, feel, or do anything special to check in with yourself regularly
4. Therapy doesn't work for me. Lol yeah, and water doesn't work for me. Therapy is SUCH a multifaceted industry, especially when it comes to caring for our mental health. Not only is there traditional talk-therapy there's also EMDR, CBT, DBT, support groups, art therapy, music therapy, psychedelic therapy... and the list goes on. Don't give up if something doesn't work, you'll find the right mix for you!
5. Therapy can fix me. On the flipside, therapy is not going to be the only thing that contributes to your optimum health. Think of therapy or counselling as one of the tools! It also takes time, commitment, and hard work.
What Myths Can You Bust About Counselling?
We want to hear from you! Were there some hesitations you had around counselling? Have you heard friends and family say some statements that simply aren't true? Let's bust those myths + #endthestigma around mental health and illness!
Comment yours in the replies below :)