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Counselling Psychologist Debunks 10 Common Myths About Counselling Therapy

Chad Prinsloo | Web Designer

Robbie Pearman  |  Psychotherapist  |  Johannesburg

May 26 2020

If you are like most people, you’ve likely come across some myths and misconceptions about psychotherapy and psychologists in general. These misunderstandings can prevent people from seeking help and getting better.

There are many benefits to counselling or psychotherapy people are on the verge of receiving should they engage in these services, and below are 10 common misconceptions about therapy to help clear up what the therapy process actually looks like, from the viewpoint of a counselling psychologist.

Seeing a Counselling Psychologist is for people with “serious” issues

Reality: Some people still believe that only people who have considerable mental health issues or are in a terrible state of crisis in some way. Today many well-adjusted people see therapists for a wide variety of less serious reasons, such as coping with mild problems, improving relationships, staying on top of stress, self-improvement, or goal setting.

If you feel constant challenges and difficulties are keeping you from enjoying life to the fullest, a therapist can benefit you in many ways.

Therapy Is Common Sense And I Should Manage My Own Issues

Reality: This is basically the equivalent of saying someone should be able to play guitar themselves without going to a music teacher. Of course, you can make some noise and may even make progress, but to really learn effectively and grow your skills, you’re going to need some support and guidance. Therapy equips people so they can manage current and future challenges when they arise. It’s getting that helping hand and growing to the point where you can help yourself down the line, and learn to make your own course corrections.

All Counselling Psychologists Are The Same

Reality: Counselling psychologists are individuals, they have different personalities and different therapeutic approaches. It’s important to find a psychologist that you click with and the therapy that’s right for your needs.

Find more information on how to choose a good psychologist in Johannesburg here.

If I See A Counselling Psychologist Once, I’ll Have To Keep Going for Many Years

Reality: At the end of the day you can decide to stop coming to counselling at any time, that is your right. Therapy should always have a goal. You might not know what that goal is when you first enter therapy and in those cases, you and your counselling psychologist will figure out these goals together. When you have a clear goal in mind and continually discuss your progress with your therapist, you will get a good idea when therapy can end. I like to work delibareately with clients in this manner, and therefore, long term commitments to thereapy need not be a necessity.

Couples Counselling Is Only For Those Heading For A Breakup

Reality: Unfortunately many couples will undertake counselling sessions only after they have arrived at a crisis point. Just like individual therapy, it’s always better to resolve issues before they get to a stage where it feels like you can’t come back from it.

Aside from helping with major conflicts in the relationship, couples therapy can be useful for minor communication problems or reigniting passion which might have been previously lost in the relationship.

Therapy Is Unnecessary When You Can Just Talk To Good Friends.

Reality: Social communication and support are crucial for everyone, especially when you’re not feeling you’re struggling in some way. However, counselling or therapy with a trained professional is very different from relationships with friends and family. Psychologists have many years of “on the job training” are skilled in facilitating conversations that lead to change. When you add into the proposition, legally and ethically required client confidentiality, a safe consistent space, and an objective perspective, you realise that this kind of conversation cannot just be replicated with a friend or family member.

My Problems Aren’t Serious Enough For Therapy

Reality: The idea that someone’s challenges or problems aren’t bad enough for counselling is one of the most common mental health myths. I believe everyone can benefit from counselling therapy regardless of how serious you believe your problems to be. No trauma threshold must be met to qualify for counselling with a psychologist. Instead, you need an open mind and a willingness to honestly confront truths about your life to grow and move forward.

Therapy is too expensive

Reality: Sessions with a private therapist can be expensive if your insurance doesn’t cover some of the costs. But not getting therapy is even more costly; if it robs someone of the life he or she could be living. It’s also helpful to reframe counselling or therapy as a medical cost rather than a personal splurge. Many of us wouldn’t think twice about forking out for medication or surgery to live a better life. Some psychologists also offer clients payment plans if it will help them.

Everyone Will Know I Am Seeing a Psychologist or Therapy will Affect My Ability To Get a Job, Apply For a Loan, Etc.

Reality: As required by law, a therapist will maintain your confidentiality and will not mention to others what was discussed in your counselling sessions. The only people who will know you are seeing a therapist are the ones you tell. Often people who find therapy beneficial want to share this with others.

A Counselling Psychologist Will Force Me To Discuss Things I Don’t Want To Talk About

Reality: An experienced counselling psychologist may push you towards uncomfortable topics to face them, but will never force you to talk about things you’re not ready to discuss. This is especially true when you’re just starting therapy. Therapy is about trust between you and your psychologist and can take many sessions to build the kind of foundation necessary to confront deeper challenges.

I’m a Counselling Psychologist situated in Parktown North, in close proximity to the northern suburbs of Johannesburg, such as Rosebank and Sandton.

I work with individuals, couples, families and small groups to address current challenges with a solution-focused approach. These challenges may include some more common complaints such as depression, and anxiety, or those trying to come to terms with trauma or bereavement.

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