As revolutions like #PopUpTherapy and apps like Doctor on Demand lower the barriers to entry on getting mental health treatment, more people are considering seeing a therapist to help them banish bad vibes. While it’s awesome that the stigma around counseling is starting to melt to the extent that even celebs are being more candid with their mental health struggles (like Selena Gomez opening up about panic attacks and depression), there are still a lot of misconceptions out there. We spoke with Julienne Derichs, a licensed clinical professional counselor, to help us debunk four myths surrounding talk therapy.

1. A counselor who doesn’t know you can’t help you. Derichs says that the opposite of this belief is true: In practice, someone who is a third party can actually provide you more insight, because they don’t bring any interpersonal biases or history to the table. “Oftentimes, friends and family tell you what you should do,” Derichs explains. “Counseling involves a unique relationship where you are encouraged and challenged to find the answers that are right for your life.”

2. Counseling takes forever. While the time frame varies based on the client’s needs, Derichs says that most counselors work with their clients for 8-15 sessions. Ideally, a counselor gives you the tools to help solve your problems independently of counseling. Once their professional guidance has gotten you back on the right track, you can put their insights and techniques into practice in your everyday life.

3. Everyone will know that you’re seeing a counselor. Doctors are bound to confidentiality by national HIPAA requirements — and counselors are also bound by law and professional codes of conduct to maintain your privacy. They are actually required by a combination of federal and state laws to keep everything you share with them private during and after your sessions. Derichs noted that there are only two cases where this confidentiality might be broken: when someone is in imminent danger or when a judge mandates the release of that information. She advises that you check in with your counselor about any concerns you have about these rules before you begin counseling.

4. You go at counseling alone. You obviously play the biggest part in the ultimate outcome of your counseling sessions, but your counselor is there to work with you in a collaborative relationship. Derichs recommends that first-time patients come into therapy ready to work alongside their counselor to achieve their goals. “With a bit of effort on your part and a strong relationship with your counselor,” Derichs encourages, “counseling can be a tool for solving problems.”

How do you take care of your mental health? Let us know @BritandCo!

(Photos via Getty)