There’s a stigma attached to admitting that you may need help taking care of your mental health and also a lot of misinformation out there about the kinds of people who seek counselling, and what a counsellor does and doesn’t do. Here are 5 myths that I’m going to lay to rest right now.

1 – Counselling is only for people with serious mental health issues.

Counselling is the best self-care ever. We do it for more confidence, less stress and anxiety and to feel better about ourselves. Many people believe that in order to see a counsellor, you need to have a psychological disorder or be seriously mentally ill. The reality is entirely different. Counselling can be beneficial for everyone. It’s a way to help yourself when things get a bit rough and whether you seek support for every day matters such as stress management or relationship issues, mental health challenges such anxiety or depression, or life events such as a bereavement, counsellors are expertly trained to help people with a wide range of concerns.

2 – It’s easier to talk to friends and family about my problems.

There is a common belief that seeking the support of your friends and family is just as good as getting professional counselling. But while being able to share your problems with your friends and family is obviously helpful, it is very different from the relationship with a trained counsellor who has specialist skills in treating a range of cognitive, behavioural and emotional issues. What’s more, counselling is entirely private and confidential, meaning you don’t have to take the feelings of your loved ones into account when you speak.

3 – Counselling is nothing but endless talk about my childhood.

Another common misconception is that counselling sessions are spent endlessly going over the past, your childhood and the relationship with your parents. The truth is that counselling is tailored to meet your unique personal situation and while some people will benefit from exploring their various previous relationships that are impacting their current reality, others may wish to focus on the present time to help them find a way forward. I am an integrative counsellor and I draw on a range of approaches to suit your individual needs and resolve any concerns you have.

4 – Counselling takes ages; it’s like writing a blank cheque.

Many people mistakenly believe that if you go to counselling, you’re committing to endless sessions that will, over time, cost you an arm and a leg. However, counselling is outcome focused and affordable. I offer short and long term counselling and keep my fees moderate to ensure maximum access to quality care and support for all. While the goal of counselling is to help people manage their individual challenges, most clients will get there with effective short-term counselling, while others may need intensive support of several months.

5 – I tried it once and it didn’t work, so counselling is not for me.

Counselling isn’t a one size fits all activity. Most counsellors will offer a free telephone consultation so why not call and see how you feel about them. Did you feel comfortable talking with them? If not, try another. There are literally hundreds of counsellors in practice, and each one is different. It’s important to find one that you can build a positive rapport with as the ‘therapeutic alliance’ is at the core of every successful counselling treatment. Trust, respect and working towards a common goal together are also reliable signs of a positive counselling outcome.