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What counselling isn't: exploring myths and expectations around counselling

Expectations that people might have about going to a counsellor is that the counsellor is an expert who is going to give you advice about what you should do.  That they can diagnose or give you medication and that it’s just the same as chatting with your friends.  This post is exploring these myths to demonstrate what counselling is by looking at what it is not.

An advisor with the answers:

Visiting a counsellor does not mean you're seeking someone with all the answers. Counsellors don't offer advice or dictate the correct course of action. It's uncommon for there to be a single appropriate response to a situation, and more importantly, you know yourself better than anyone else. Counselling aims to help you determine what is right for you, rather than relying on external sources.

A qualified medical practitioner that can diagnose or prescribe medication:

Counsellors cannot provide mental health diagnoses but may ask you about this to determine if they can effectively assist you. Typically, a counsellor focuses more on your daily life experiences rather than solely interpreting you through the narrow perspective of a diagnostic label.  If you are seeking diagnosis or medication to help you then in the UK, you should contact your GP. 

The same as talking to a friend:

Counselling is more than just a conversation. Though it may seem like two people having a normal discussion, the counsellor is using their training to actively listen and respond attentively. For the client, verbalising their innermost thoughts in a non-judgmental space can be beneficial. The counsellor identifies patterns and reflects on key information, ensuring they understand what the client is expressing. This can help clarify the client's perception. In everyday conversation, the talking and listening ratio is usually 50:50, but in counselling, the client should ideally speak more than the counsellor. The client, not the counsellor, sets the agenda.

If you have any questions about how counselling can help you, then feel free to contact me via email on

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