Empowering awareness: Disproving misconceptions about counselling

Are you currently wondering if counselling is for you but are not really sure what to expect?


Therapy is a powerful tool for personal growth, working through trauma, and finding options and solutions for problems and difficulties. I want to address some common misconceptions about what counselling is so that you can make an informed decision about if it is what you need right now.

Misconception: counselling is just having a chat, so it does not make a difference

The reality is that counselling is so much more than just having a chat. Depending on the therapist’s approach they use various attitudes, techniques and sometimes interventions to facilitate the therapeutic process.

Research shows that the most important factor for a therapy to work is the therapeutic relationship between the client and the counsellor. This means that counselling is so much more than just talking. Counselling is a relationship that works toward the goal of gaining understanding and self-worth. It is a collaboration between client and counsellor to facilitate change and personal growth.

Misconception: counselling is only for someone with severe mental illness

The reality is that though therapy can be beneficial for people with severe mental health concerns, their main support will be a psychiatrist who is a medical doctor and might also prescribe medication. Counselling on the other hand does not prescribe or diagnose. It offers support for many issues, including trauma responses, stress, life transitions, low self-esteem, relationships, bereavement, sadness and loneliness. It provides a safe and confidential space for people to explore their feelings, thoughts, experiences and behaviour, regardless of the severity of the presenting issues.

Misconception: counselling is only for weak people

The reality is that counselling takes a lot of courage and is a sign of strength. To acknowledge that you need support and then actively ask for help can be very difficult and painful. I know that it was for me.

Misconception: the counsellor will judge me

The reality is that most therapists, no matter which approach, will agree on the core condition of unconditional positive regard for their clients. This is an attitude of the person-centred therapy approach and means that the client is accepted, prized and supported without judgement or criticism.

A counsellor’s job is to create a safe space in which the client can freely express themselves without fear of being judged. With empathy, they strive to understand the client’s world, experiences, emotions and behaviour.

Misconception: counselling is a quick fix

The reality is that counselling will not solve your problems overnight. For some people, one session might be enough to then continue the journey of self-discovery on their own. It would still take commitment, courage, time and effort to make changes in your life and to sustain self-esteem and self-compassion.

Counselling is not a one-size-fits-all solution. The therapy process will be different for everybody as it unfolds at its own pace. You might be well enough to continue on your own after the single session, after six or you need long-term therapy. It is also important to know that there might be times when it seems that life is worse than before as you are exploring something painful or lost. Counselling requires willingness, patience, perseverance and connection from both the client and the therapist.

Misconception: the counsellor will give me advice

The reality is that the aim of counselling is client autonomy. My expertise is to provide the space in which the client can explore their feelings, behaviours and experiences without judgment or pressure to conform to my advice or values. That means that counselling encourages and facilitates clients to find and develop their potential and abilities so that they can find their own solutions. The goal of counselling is to empower clients to take responsibility and make their choices.

Misconception: I had counselling before but it did not work, so it will never work

The reality is that counselling is a relationship and it might not have been the right counsellor for you. This might be one of the reasons your past therapy did not work or was a bad experience. The only advice I will give you is to talk to your therapist or future counsellor if it is not working for you. This could have a positive growth effect on your process and relationship. It also gives you the opportunity to figure out if the counsellor is the right fit for you. You can then make a decision, which can feel quite empowering as it is a movement towards autonomy.

My own experience with counselling is, that it leads to greater self-awareness, self-worth and self-compassion. With developed autonomy, it facilitates taking responsibility, finding options for change and living a more fulfilled life. I hope that by disproving common misconceptions about counselling you are encouraged to ask for help and look for support. My hope for you is that you find the right counsellor that fits your needs at this moment in time.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Counselling Directory are reviewed by our editorial team.

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London SW1W & W5
Written by Hanna Bohrisch, Counsellor for Women in SW1, online, for Walk & Talk in W5
London SW1W & W5

I am a person-centred counsellor in London and offer walk and talk, online and in-person therapy. I am creating a safe space for your voice to be heard and facilitating your growth through a genuine connection.

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