Myths and Facts about Counseling

Myths and Facts about Counseling

MYTH: Counseling is only for people with serious emotional problems.

FACT: Seeing a counselor does not mean that you are mentally ill or "crazy."  In addition to addressing more serious emotional problems, counseling can help with:

  • life transitions; adjusting to new surroundings
  • difficulty juggling school, work, family, and other responsibilities
  • academic problems, difficulty in test-taking and/or test anxiety
  • struggles with self-esteem, communication, or assertiveness
  • relationship problems

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 helpless.

FACT: Going to counseling is a way of taking control and helping yourself.  Talking to a counselor helps you examine your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors in order to make changes to improve your quality of life.


MYTH:  If I go for counseling, the faculty or administration will hear about it.

FACT: The things you discuss with your counselor are confidential.  The contents of your counseling sessions are subject to strict legal and ethical standards of confidentiality and privacy. This means that counselors will not release any information, or even the fact that they have met with you, to anyone without your permission (includes parents, professors, friends, or school administration). There are some limits to confidentiality:

  • If a counselor believes that you are likely to harm yourself and/or another person, he or she may take action necessary to protect you or others by contacting law enforcement officers or a physician.
  • If there is cause to believe that a child has been or may be abused or neglected, the counselor is legally and ethically required to make a report to the appropriate state agency.
  • If there is cause to believe that an elderly or disabled person has been or may be abused, neglected, or subject to financial exploitation, the counselor is legally and ethically required to make a report to the appropriate state agency.
  • If your records are requested by a valid subpoena or court order, we must respond.

MYTH:  The counselor can prescribe medications for me such as anti-depressants for my problems.

FACT:  Counselors do not prescribe nor dispense medications - a medical doctor (a psychiatrist or a general physician) prescribes medication. Counselors may refer you to an M.D. who can provide more assessment and, if appropriate, medication.


MYTH:  A counselor cannot understand me unless s/he has had similar experiences or is of the same background.

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


MYTH:  A counselor will tell me how to "fix" my problems.

FACT: Counseling is not a quick cure for your problems.  The counselor is there to help you explore your feelings, thoughts, and concerns; to examine your options; and to assist you in achieving the goals you have set.  The counseling process can help you work toward meaningful life change over the long term, in addition to helping you manage current difficulties more effectively. It will take effort and commitment on your part to make change happen.


MYTH:  Change will happen quickly.

FACT: Although counseling will not provide a ‘quick fix’ to your problems, many people do feel relief and improved mood after only a couple of sessions.  However, changes in thoughts and behavior often take time and energy to achieve.  Counseling can help you work toward meaningful life change over the long term, in addition to helping you manage current difficulties more effectively.