Perhaps you have an idea about counseling counselors and how they are perceived by others. There might’ve been the possibility that you’ve seen mental health professionals shown on your screen a couple of times. Some counselors are depicted as strict, lovable, and too attached. But others are far more than just good and friendly experts.
More often than not, what you see is mostly a misrepresentation of what real-life counselors are.
How Counseling Counselors Are Portrayed In The Media
Onscreen Therapists Are Not Your Average Characters
Pop culture’s notion of what happens during treatment sessions is mainly based on what they wanted counselors to be – fictional – rather than being authentically faithful to its source.
Unfortunately, most high-quality flicks show inaccurate depictions of the treatment.
“Therapy is intended to be a place to carefully and safely start to turn toward whatever it is you’ve got.” Molly Bowman, MS, LPC said.
So when movie and television scripts exaggerate or use counselors’ privilege to show an unreliable rendering of an essential medical profession, it is the audience’s duty as their viewers to pinpoint what’s real from what’s not efficiently. But if television can influence the viewer’s perspective, counselors and the treatment representation should be close to the truth.
Counseling And The Media: Errors And Fallacies
Fallacies Versus Accuracies
Below are frequent inaccuracies and errors in counseling that are shown in films and the reality behind them.
Fallacy #1: Therapists Fix Problems
Fictional counselors or therapists that you see in movies and on the media mostly provide all the answers to their clients. Even the infamous Dr. Phil who is not fictional at all offers the treatment and gives lectures on air. People should understand that “therapy is a lot of work and this is important to keep in mind before starting. It’s imperative to understand this so that you can set realistic expectations for yourself.”
Real-life counselors provide guidance and support and let their clients figure out the answers and best solutions to their predicaments. From time to time, if warranted and on certain occasions, counselors might provide suggestions on altering a particular behavior by giving activities in between the treatment sessions. This type of treatment method is more of a directive than advice because it allows the person to explore their capabilities and inner knowledge to address their grievances and dilemmas. “While many therapists are qualified to treat common challenges such as anxiety or depression, if you are interested in working with a specialist to address a specific challenge, you should consider looking out-of-network.” Stacy Donn Cristo, LMHC said.
Fallacy #2: Counselors Are Bad At Keeping Secrets
There’s always that one counselor in a specific media show that spills out all the details about a particular client to a friend or other people.
And sometimes, they are even antagonists of the story plot.
Accuracy: Counselors are sworn to secrecy by their profession and are obligated to maintain strict confidentiality at all times. Whatever conversations or experiences you’ve shared with your counselor will never be shared with anyone without your permission. However, there are always certain exceptions to the rule, especially when imminent danger or threat is looming. Usually, before the session begins, your counselor will inform you about the terms and conditions of your relationship.
Fallacy #3: Therapists Often Form Romantic Relationships With Their Patients
The vulnerability and dependency of a person who is always seeking the help of most therapists or just one good therapist are somehow like media portrayals with a written plot device for the two characters involved. Sometimes, TV therapists give this bad impression due to their not accurate portrayal that real-life therapists can be predatory and will take advantage of their client’s concerns and incompetent skills to resolve substance abuse, attempted suicide tendencies, and other own problems.
Accuracy: “The foundation of therapy is based on the relationship you build with your therapist. When seeking someone out it’s important you feel comfortable with them.” says Elana Schechtman-Gil LMFT, But ethically, having sexual contact or forming relationships with ordinary people seeking mental health professionals is inadmissible. Dual ethical standards created between the patient and therapist is harmful in their own lives and can be ineffective to the overall well-being.
The Real Life Counselors
Always remember that the majority of whatever you see on television or in movies about therapy is mostly superficial. Real-life mental health professionals are bound by their profession to practice within the scope of their responsibility. Web therapy and mental health professionals’ expectations and goals are first laid out before the therapeutic process begins to create a trusting and efficient relationship between the patient and the registered psychologist for mental illness.
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