Have you ever thought about seeking counselling for a difficulty you have faced? What stopped you? Were you put off because of some rumours you have heard about counselling?
Here are some misconceptions about counselling we would like to address which are worth debunking.
Myth #1: Counselling is only for people who have serious mental and emotional problems.
Counselling is a lot more than just that! Like good physical health, good mental health is as important for your general well-being. At University Counselling Services (UCS), counsellors equip students with new coping skills and counselling is often a journey that students can take to achieve their maximum potential in life.
Myth #2: Seeking counselling is a sign of weakness.
Contrary to this statement, admitting that you need help is often the hardest barrier to overcome. It is by no means a weakness! Rather, it is a testament of courage and a first step towards self-improvement.
Myth #3: If I go for counselling, everyone will hear about it.
At UCS, confidentiality of our clients is of utmost importance. Exceptions are made only when there is a potentially serious risk of harm to the individual, others or when required by law.
UCSgoes to great lengths to ensure that students are comfortable when seeking counselling. For a start, when you enter our premises, you’ll notice a separate entrance from the main building. This ensures that confidentiality is accorded to the individual. Our waiting area also provides a comfortable environment for students - all these even before attending a counselling appointment!
Myth #4: If I go to counselling, they’re just going to give me a pill.
There is no fix-it-all pill in counselling. Counsellors do not prescribe medication to clients. Rather, counselling is a unique journey that individuals undertake with the clinician in working through their needs and concerns.
Myth #5: A Counsellor cannot understand me unless we have similar experiences and background.
While counsellors may not have similar experiences as you, they are trained to be respectful of individual diversities. Regardless of your background or unique concerns, they are there to accompany you through a difficult time in your life.
Myth #6: The counsellor will tell me what my problems are and how to ‘fix’ them.
Contrary to a common misconception, counselling is not a quick cure. Rather, it is a process that the individual undertakes with the counsellor. The counsellor is there for the individual to jointly explore his/her concerns, examine options and help the client find the answer that best works for them.
Myth #7: Counselling takes forever.
There’s really no definite time frame for an individual who needs to work through his/her concerns. It is a unique process and is often based on the needs of the person.
At UCS, we provide short-term counselling. If students’ concerns require longer term therapy, they would be given referrals to appropriate community resources.
Myth #8: Counselling doesn’t work at all.
Counselling is often most successful when you invest time and energy to work with the counsellor. Through time, patience and practicing new coping skills, situations may just turn around!
Myth #9: It’s weird pouring out my concerns to a stranger.
You’re probably right. It may feel a little strange sharing with a person you’ve just met. But, just like any other new experiences, the weirdness will slowly dissipate once you’re familarised with the process and are comfortable with the counsellor.
Myth #10: Counselling will become part of my academic record and hurt me in my job, residency or graduate school applications.
We often hear this from students who are open to the idea of counselling but are hesitant to attend because of this misconception.
Confidentiality is important to any helping field. At UCS, we seek to provide our clients with the strictest level of confidentiality. Exceptions are made only when there are serious risks of harm to the individual, others or when required by law.
Additionally, an exception would be made if clients were to give consent by signing an Information Release Form or if clients have been formally mandated by their department/faculty to seek counselling at UCS. If you’re unsure or concerned with this aspect, we encourage you to call us to clarify or discuss with your counsellor when you attend your first session.