Hint: It's not as scary as you think!
One of the main reasons people tell me they avoid counseling is they just don't know what to expect. And let's face it -- what we don't know can create a great deal of fear. To make matters worth, you may have heard a myth or horror story about counseling that makes you even less likely to go. Fortunately, going to counseling isn't nearly as scary as you are making it out in your mind.
Here are some items of what you may not know about counseling; once you’ve read about it, my hope is that you won’t be afraid to pick up the phone and reach out for help!
1. Counseling does not equal medication.
If you see a psychologist, he or she may recommend that you take medication if your particular situation warrants it. However, going to therapy does NOT mean that you need to take or will be recommended to take any medication. Counselors will first try to figure out a way you can use cognitive tools and coping mechanisms to get through your problems or anxiety. If you visit a MFT like me, the counselor won’t even be able to prescribe medication.
2. There are different methods of therapy.
Different counselors come from different schools of thought. For instance, I come from the stand point of emotionally focused therapy, but other counselors might use very different methods. This means 2 things: first, if you research your counselor’s method beforehand you will have a better idea of what to expect. Second, if you have a bad experience with one counselor, you might just need to find someone who uses a different method — not quit counseling altogether.
3. You don’t have to be in dire straits to attend counseling.
Some people think that they must be in a very bad place to go to counseling. If you or your relationship are in a bad place — that’s OK, a counselor won’t judge you. But you don’t have to be on the edge of disaster to enter into counseling. Your counselor will meet you where you are, so to speak, so you don’t need to worry about your counselor having any preconceived notions about you before counseling begins. We see all different types of clients, and the first session will be all about figuring out what you need.
4. You help guide the process.
Counseling isn’t what you see on TV — you won’t lay on a couch while the counselor takes notes and then tells you what to do or asks intimidating questions. In reality, you are very involved with the direction of your therapy. Together, you and your counselor will figure out the root of any pain points and work to improve things. You won’t have to feel out of control; the goal is for you to feel empowered!
Some clients will come in once a week for counseling, and some less frequently. Similarly, I might see some clients for many months, and others for a shorter time period. In the end, we will decide the best course of action based on your needs, but counseling doesn’t have to take up a huge amount of time. You might be surprised to learn that some clients only meet with a counselor for a few sessions.
What You May Not Know About Counseling might just keep you stuck in your world. Seek help.
About Jennine Estes, MFT
Think of me as your relationship consultant, I'm your neutral third party that can help you untangle the emotions and help you figure out what's really going on. I am a Marriage and Family Therapist in San Diego, CA. Certified in Emotionally Focused Therapy for Couples. Supervisor. I write relationship and self growth advice for my column Relationships in the Raw. Creator of #BeingLOVEDIs campaign. MFC#47653