Here are some common fears and facts about counseling and seeking help.
FEAR: People who go to Counseling Centers are crazy or weak or weird.
FACT: The truth is that most students who seek help at the guidance office are "regular people" trying to find ways to feel better and live less stressful lives. Some people are more emotionally troubled than others. But, not everyone who seeks help is emotionally "disturbed". Since most people experience some degree of emotional distress at various points in their lives, seeking counseling as a step in coping with this distress is certainly not an indication of having a psychiatric disorder. Instead, this kind of choice represents a courageous, mature, and responsible attitude.
FEAR: My problems are too small and trivial to talk about.
FACT: Any concern is a valid concern. Talking with a caring professional might help put into perspective just how big or small your concerns are.
FEAR: I should be strong enough to solve my own problems.
FACT: Choosing to seek help and ask for help shows wisdom and courage. Counseling is a tremendous benefit to any East Grand Rapids middle student, so why not use it?
FEAR: People might find out that I went to see a counselor.
FACT: Counseling sessions are confidential and do not become a part of your school file. Typically, the only way others might become aware of your choice to see a counselor is if you decide to tell them. You may even discover that you want a selected number of people to know that you are seeking help.
FEAR: Making an appointment and then talking with a counselor about personal stuff seems kind of scary.
FACT: A certain amount of discomfort or anxiety is understandable. We all feel a bit apprehensive the first time we meet someone, particularly when talking about important things having to do with our lives and our struggles. However, Mrs. Healey, Mrs. Rupke, and Mr. Seth understand your anxiety at the beginning. You will be encouraged to speak, but at your own pace and with the assurance that you have a safe place in which to do it. Most students realize quickly that there is tremendous relief in just talking.
FEAR: I'm afraid my counselor will make me talk about stuff I'm not ready to talk about.
FACT: Counseling is NOT about making people do anything. It is about collaboration. You and your counselor form a "team". You will not be asked or forced to talk about anything you don't want to talk about. Your counselor may indicate that there may be issues which might be helpful to discuss with your parents. It may even be something you are avoiding, but this will be done in a spirit of teamwork and caring. If you are not in eminent harm, this is a decision you and your counselor can make together.
Used with the permission of Calvin College Broene Counseling Center.