Myths About Counseling

Counseling is something that is misunderstood by many people. These are some common myths about counseling:

Myth: Counseling is only for people who have serious emotional problems.

Fact: Seeing a counselor does not mean that you are mentally ill or “crazy”. Everyone has difficulties at some point in their lives, being able to ask for help is a sign of maturity, health, and strength.

Myth: Seeking counseling is a sign of weakness.

Fact: It takes courage to explore sensitive feelings and painful experiences. Individuals who enter counseling are taking a first step in resolving their difficulties.

Myth:  Going to counseling means that I’m out of control.

Fact:  Actually, going to counseling is a way of  taking control. Talking to a counselor is a great way to take control of your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors; and to make changes to improve your quality of life. Since mood and behavior effect the people around us, an improved quality of life has obvious benefits for those around you as well.

Myth: The counselor will tell me what to do and how to “fix” my problems.

Fact:  Counseling is not a “quick fix” for your problems. The counselor’s role is to help you explore your feelings, thoughts, and concerns; to examine your options and to assist you in achieving the goals you have set.

Myth: Counseling doesn’t work. I’ve tried it already.

Fact: The counseling process looks different with each counselor, for each problem, so always try again.   

Myth: The counselor cannot understand you unless he/she has had similar experiences or is of the same background.

Fact: Individual reactions to the same event or experience can vary widely, but basic human emotions are the same across individuals and cultures.

Your counselor does not have to personally experience the same thing as you in order to understand what it might be like. Counselors are trained to be sensitive to, and respectful of, individual differences, including specific concerns of students with regard to gender, race/ethnicity, religion, age, sexual orientation, and socio-economic status.

Myth: The fact that I’ve gone for counseling will become part of my academic record and/or may hurt me in job, residency or graduate school applications.

Fact: Counseling records are kept separately from academic records and are protected by law.  Release of any information is permitted only after a student provides written consent, or in certain legal situations involving a subpoena or court order.

Myth:  My family, professors and peers at school will find out about my problems.

Fact:   The things you discuss with your counselor and the contents of your counseling record are subject to strict legal and ethical standards of confidentiality and privacy.  The Counseling and Psychological Wellness Center does not even acknowledge that you have been seen by a counselor without your written permission. There are, however, a few limits on confidentiality.  These limits include: When an individual reports that s/he is seriously considering hurting him/herself or others, if there is an indication of child abuse or neglect, or when there is a court order.