Venturing into counseling for the first time can be quite stressful just in and of itself. For most people who decide to seek counseling the first time, the unfamiliar process can feel stressful in addition to whatever stressors are already happening. If you are unfamiliar with the process, you might have some wrong ideas and unrealistic expectations of both the counselor and the counseling process. Here are some common unrealistic expectations and myths about counseling and then truths about counseling follow.
A counselor is not…
… a magic ball that can foresee the future. Often, a counselor will get questions such as, “How long will this take?” or “I only need a few sessions, right?” Certainly there are times when, as a counselor, you can reasonably say that this process for this issue is going to take a good while in counseling to work through. But that is as far as a counselor can go and be comfortable in predicting the length of therapy.
… a referee. Especially in couples counseling, people will have the wrong idea that a counselor is present to negotiate or referee an argument. The counselor’s task is to help you understand and manage the dynamics between both of you so you can better resolve the content of your argument.
… a magic pill with instant solutions. People will often come to counseling wanting a few “to do” things thinking that will resolve their issues. It is rarely that simple, in fact, it is so rare that when that happens a counselor has a hard time trusting it. Issues such as low self-worth don’t manifest overnight and so they won’t resolve overnight either. Some hurts do happen in an instant but still take significant time and effort to work through.
… free. In a perfect world, counseling would be free. Or, the person who caused the pain would pay for it. That usually doesn’t happen either. While counseling is a calling, it is also a profession, and it is the counselor’s financial support. Counselors spend a minimum of six years in college completing two degrees. Sometimes, if the office is within a church building, people assume that the church pays the counselor. That is usually not the case.
A counselor is….
… someone who will walk with you on the journey to healing. A counselor considers it a great honor to take this journey with someone. We know that it can be daunting, scary, emotional, and challenging. It is also a growing experience and deeply rewarding. “Yet I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand. You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will take me into glory.” (Ps. 73:23)
… someone who can teach you to challenge old/damaging ways of thinking and relating to others. A counselor will help you examine self-talk and the stories you tell yourself. Then, we will challenge them and speak truth over the lies. “Be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is.” (Rom. 12:2 NIV)
… someone who can help you communicate better. There are skills (such as seeking first to understand, emotional responding, and clarifying with humility) that you can learn that will help you communicate better with the people around you. “Everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger.” (James. 1:19 NIV) “He who guards his mouth and his tongue, guards his soul from troubles.” (Prov. 21:23 NIV)
… someone who will meet you where you are. There is no judgment when you come to a counselor. As counselors, we are not looking for perfect answers from you. We want the real answer from you. We are all in need of grace and mercy. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding.” (Prov. 3:5 NIV)
… someone who will believe in you (in your pain and your capabilities). Oftentimes, the therapeutic relationship, the relationship between you and your counselor, is healing. Have you ever felt better simply because someone believed in you? “Let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” (Heb. 5:16 NIV)
… someone who will help you connect the dots between how past wounds affect present living. Doing this helps open up options in how to respond to people and situations. A counselor will help you identify these options but they will not decide for you what option you should take. This component of counseling also helps you to discover and express what you are feeling. It will not make the feelings go away. “Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cress, despising shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Heb. 12:1b-2 NIV)
If you want or need counseling to address issues or relationships that are creating problems in your life, please call us at the Rush Creek Counseling Center at 817-704-6991 or visit our website at www.rushcreekcounseling.org.