Debunking Barriers of Seeing a Therapist
Today mental health is a part of public conversations. However, there still is a gap between discussing mental health and getting services. A part of this is the stigma and beliefs that are connected to seeing a therapist. Below are common thoughts and beliefs that become barriers to connecting to counseling services.
“My problems are not bad enough to see a therapist”
It is common belief that only people who have experienced severe and complex trauma or “serious” mental health difficulties are acceptable to see a therapist. However, there are unlimited amounts of reasons why someone would work with and benefit from talking to a therapist:
– Going through a new life adjustment such as divorce, moving, new job, blended family, a loss
– Wanting to gain new skills such as communication, assertiveness, or parenting support
– To develop new coping skills to better assist with daily stressors
– To improve self-care routine
– To have a person that is outside their inner circle to talk to
– To heal from past experiences
– To combine counseling with other mental health treatments
“No one can relate to what I’m going though”
When we face obstacles in life, it is easy to feel alone. Combining this feeling with the thought of talking to someone about our experiences can create a fear of misunderstanding or inability to relate. Consider this thought: each person is the expert of their own experiences. Through this lens, it takes away the pressure of needing your therapist to experience what you have gone through. By being the expert of your experience, it is then the therapist’s job to create a safe place for you to explore it, while walking through that path with you.
“The therapist is just going to judge me.”
A big reason why people fear sharing vulnerable experiences, thoughts, or feelings with others is the worry of being judged. The foundation of counseling focus on the therapeutic relationship, building rapport, and trust. Meaning, being going to counseling, you will be entering a space that does not hold judgement.
“Seeing a counselor means that I’m weak”
Somehow along the scope of mental health, there became a false correlation between therapy and weakness. Some believe that seeing a professional means that we cannot handle stress or that we are weak. On the contrary, this is a sign of strength. Strength in the fact that a person is aware that a need is not being met and is following through with fulfilling that need by seeking assistance. Counseling is work. By entering counseling, you are in the process of facing your needs and working to achieve the goals you have for yourself. This does take strength to do.
“I don’t want people to know my problems”
Each therapist is to be grounded under their ethical code. The American Counseling Association Code of Ethics lays out the standard for counseling professionals. A key factor related to the counseling relationship is valuing the relationship with the client and ensuring confidentiality and privacy. Therefore, counseling is meant to be a safe nonjudgmental space where the client is able to work through what they need while maintaining their privacy. The only limitations where confidentiality would need to be broken is under the circumstance of a mandated report regarding safety. When you meet with their counselor, they will inform you of all policies related to your privacy and limitations. If confidentiality is a concern, tell your therapist. They can assist in ensuring confidence.