Whether or not to go to counseling is often a really hard decision to make. Even as a mental health therapist who has been in the field for a while, it’s not lost on me that some social stigma remains about the idea of seeking therapeutic help. Additionally, at the heart of most of us (Americans) is typically this “pull yourself up by your bootstraps” mentality that seems counter to the therapy process. The people I meet with have already dealt with the internal struggle of whether or not to reach out for counseling support. But I still hear a lot of objections on a regular basis. Here are a few reasons why people wrestle with starting the therapy journey:
“Are you sure you reeeeeeally need it?”
Ok. Maybe. Maybe you don’t reeeeeeally need it. Maybe it would just be Helpful to you. Is that enough? Also, who reeeeeeally needs it? How bad off does a person have to get before they meet that criteria? Isn’t prevention the best cure?
“I can just deal with it on my own.”
Here’s the deal: you don’t get a medal for not asking for help. What you get is a longer, slower journey that could’ve been dealt with months or even years ago, but you decided that you weren’t going to ask anyone else to help you process through this. Can you deal with it on your own? Maybe. But why should you have to?
“I am not really the therapy type.”
You… Oh you! And your specialness! See above. 🙂
But also, since this is my own blog, I feel free to toot my own horn here. I’m the QUEEN of clients who “aren’t really the therapy type.” I’m honestly one of the least “shrinky” shrinks out there! I’d let my former clients attest to this, but it’s unethical to ask for therapy reviews. You’ll just have to take my word for it. If there’s anyone who you would possibly not hate having to go talk to in therapy, it’s probably me. 🙂
“It’s in the past. What’s the point of dragging it back up?”
This one is slightly tricky because it sounds rational. It actually falls into the category of minimization of your pain, and the expectation that you’re a super human who shouldn’t have ongoing effects of difficult life events. I always say, negative emotions will find their way to the surface one way or another. If you let them choose how they come out, it will be in the least convenient way possible. You’re better off bringing your stuff to the light and dealing with it head-on, processing and healing as the need dictates, rather than attempting to stuff it down deep.
“I don’t need counseling…I have God/Prayer/The Bible/My Church/Etc.”
You do have those things. You totally do. And where would we be without them? Counseling doesn’t diminish your ability to utilize those gifts in any way. Think about it like this: we’ve all sat through sermons that were less than awesome simply because someone was “pinch hitting” for your regular pastor. And then the next Sunday, you think, “Wow, I’m so glad Pastor So-and-So is back!” because your pastor is gifted at what he does and specially equipped by God for that task. The same is true for counselors. As a Christian, I believed I am called and equipped for this role, and it is my gift from God to give back to the body (and to people who do not practice their faith as well, as God’s gifts are for everyone to benefit from). You’re gifted, too. But this is my gift to the community and there’s something to be said about going to the right person for the job and not expecting all your needs to be met through your normal outlets.
“I went to therapy before and it just wasn’t that helpful.”
This may legitimately be the case. I’m sorry you had a less than stellar experience. There’s somebody for everyone, but apparently you didn’t find your right therapeutic “somebody” yet. I can’t guarantee that it’s me, but if you come and don’t think I’m the right fit for you, I’ll gladly make some referrals based on your preferences and goals. Also, I am working on a blog that I’ll post soon on how to pick the right therapist for you, so check back soon for more on this topic.
“I wouldn’t want anyone to find out./My family is really against counseling.”
Comments like this really tug at my heart because they’re laced inextricably with shame. Come, my sweet friend, and let’s sift this out together. It’s ok to be human. Be the first one in your family to take this healing step and watch as health unfolds around you.
“Things aren’t THAT bad, are they?”
This is usually spoken by a spouse who is less than thrilled at the prospect of attending marriage therapy. Sometimes this person doesn’t want to be “found out” for his/her behavior. Other times it’s more about not wanting to hear how he/she is “failing” the marriage. But all of the time, statements like this are based in fear. Don’t let fear of being seen hold you back. Call fear a chump and remember that there are better days ahead than any you’ve left behind. Often, the only path forward is taking what’s been hidden and bringing it to the light. Healing takes place in the light, and it’s never too late (or too early) to start on the road to a healthier, brighter tomorrow. Everyone deserves a marriage that is full of connection and fulfillment.
“I would go to counseling, but it’s my wife/husband/son/boss/mom who really needs it.”
That *might* be true. If that’s the case, then you at least need help figuring out your boundaries and roles in your most difficult and important relationships in life. We all have people we wish we could hog tie, throw in the back of our truck and leave them on the therapist’s doorstep like a big, dysfunctional present. Short of that, we have to figure out a way to be in relationship with them and not lose our minds, our identities or our resolve. It’s ok to come in and seek help as a “therapeutic bridge” even if the other party is unwilling to join you at this time.
If you have any reason for not coming to therapy that isn’t listed above, I’d love for you to email it to me! If you know you’d like to attend therapy but there’s some other reason holding you back, we can discuss it here or you may find additional therapeutic help through my resource page until such a time that therapy is a more viable option for you.
And as always, if you’d like to discuss this topic (or any other), I’d love to meet with you in one of my offices: Denham Springs, Walker or Baton Rouge, Louisiana.