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Myth: All counsellors are basically the same.
Fact: The word “counsellor” could be assigned by Designation or by Qualification. Counsellors by Designation are found in computer institutes, fitness centres, beauty parlours, etc. On the other hand, counsellors by Qualification work in the field of psychology. They are professional psychologists equipped with the required skills and knowledge to help people deal with their personal and professional difficulties. Hence, all psychologists can be counsellors, but all counsellors need not be psychologists.

Myth: Only “mad” people go to a counsellor.
Fact: Counsellors deal with a wide range of individuals, from the normal to the abnormal sections of society. They help individuals to cope with their everyday difficulties such as problems at the workplace, inability to concentrate and other issues such as marital difficulties, sibling rivalry and so on.

Myth: Speaking to my family members or relatives is enough. I’m not supposed to discuss personal problems with outsiders.
Fact: Though speaking to family members might give temporary solace, at times professional help needs to be sought. This is because a professional counsellor has the knowledge, skills and expertise to tackle certain issues and give an objective viewpoint which can help an individual cope better.

Myth: Counsellors can read your ind and hence can eliminate your problems quickly.
Fact: Counsellors can observe and understand human behaviour and thereby gauge emotions, thoughts, etc. to bring about more clarity and self-awareness. However, they are not astrologers or magicians who can eliminate a problem by waving a magic wand. Hence an individual may have to visit the counsellor a number of times depending upon the severity of his/her difficulty.

Myth: Once I visit a counsellor, he/she is responsible for everything.
Fact: Counselling or therapy is a mutual, two-way process and the pace and progress depends on both the counsellor and the counsellee. The client/counsellee has to be equally involved in the entire process and cooperate with the counsellor. Along with individual counselling, there could be family counselling, marital counselling, parental counselling and so on.

Myth: Only adults need counselling.
Fact: An individual faces some difficulty or the other at every stage of life, right from childhood to old age. Hence, students, parents, couples, teenagers, working professionals, homemakers, divorcees, single parents, can avail of counselling services for any difficulty that they could be facing such as study/concentration/memory problems, peer pressure, work pressure, getting along with colleagues, parenting and disciplining problems, sex-related difficulties, handling arguments with one’s spouse, meeting deadlines, handling death/separation, dealing with identity crisis/friendship, etc.

Myth: One should visit a counsellor only when he/she has a problem.
Fact: One can avail of a counsellor’s services even to enhance the existing quality of life by engaging in programmes such as personality enhancement, self-awareness, effective time management/stress management, appropriate parenting, vocational guidance and so on.

Myth: Counsellors give a readymade solution and take a decision for me.
Fact: Counsellors help an individual to see different perspectives and generate alternatives to reach a decision or a solution. They help individuals help themselves.

Myth: I would never need a counsellor’s assistance. Counsellors are unnecessarily in vogue.
Fact: Well, self-dependence is commendable and that is exactly what counsellors aim for because with a rapidly changing society and lifestyle, the amount of stress and pressure is augmenting. This is bound to strain and burden every aspect of a person’s life and relationships. Keeping this scenario in mind, counsellors are rightly sought-after.

Myth: Visiting a counsellor is expensive.
Fact: Counsellors can have their private practice as well as work with psychiatric clinics, hospitals, private companies, schools, colleges and even NGOs. Availing of their services could prove to be cheap in the long run, when you are able to arrest a problem in its infant stages and optimise your potential.

A few places to contact if need be are:
Institute of Psychological Health (Tel: 2543 3270)
Prafulta (Tel: 2411 6727)
Growth Centre (I) Pvt. Ltd. (Tel: 2528 7474/ 8844)
Ummeed – Child Development Centre
(Tel: 2363 2932)
Xavier’s Institute of Counselling Psychology
(Tel: 2262 6967)

Ketaki Kharkar, Counselling Psychologist

E-mail: growthteam@rediffmail.com.