Coming to the decision that you would benefit from counselling is often a journey in itself. Actually taking that next step and booking an appointment can be yet another hurdle. For some, this brings up fears and/or concerns.
Here we want to address these fears, and explain why they shouldn’t hold you back.
1. Fear of stigma
While we’re pleased to see mental health stigma slowly reducing in society, it is still very much present. For some, this stigma of being seen as ‘crazy’ or ‘incapable’ becomes a force that stops them making that appointment.
The truth is, people seek therapy for all sorts of reasons. Some are simply looking for more insight and self-awareness. Some see the value of working on themselves and recognise when outside support is needed. The idea that you should be able to solve all your own problems is antiquated. Understanding that you need professional support is a testament to your strength, and that’s something no one can stigmatise.
2. Fear of diagnosis
Many people believe that once they have been diagnosed with a mental health condition, they will live with that label for the rest of their life. This is rarely the case. There are over 300 different mental health diagnoses and only a small percentage of those are considered to be ‘lifelong’. For the most part, once you get to a stage where you no longer reach the criteria for the condition, your diagnosis becomes part of your medical history – just like any previous physical illness or surgery.
3. Fear of never leaving therapy
A common misconception about therapy is that once you begin, you’ll never leave. Of course the length of time you require support will depend on the nature of your concern, but counselling’s main goal is to say ‘goodbye’ when you are ready. Some people choose to continue therapy after their issues have been resolved to continue self exploration – but this is always your choice.
4. Fear of being judged
The belief that your therapist will judge you is another common fear. It’s important to remember that counsellors undergo specific training to create a safe and therapeutic environment and that means one without judgement. Therapists are professionals first and foremost, and they see people from all walks of life with various concerns.
If you are concerned, give your chosen therapist a call before your appointment or read about them online. Getting a better sense of who they are and how they work can help you develop trust.
5. Fear of talking to a stranger
It may feel odd to sit in a room with a complete stranger and tell them your most personal thoughts, but it is exactly this that makes therapy so beneficial. Your therapist will have no personal connection to you and no bias. They serve as an outside perspective. They are also not at liberty to discuss your concerns with other people unless you give them permission to do so.
A good therapist won’t force you into opening up when you’re not comfortable. Instead they will work with you to build a trusting relationship where you feel comfortable and happy opening up.
6. Fear of confronting the issue
Avoiding your problems is a common coping technique. For some, the idea of actually facing up to them and dealing with them is hard to consider. When problems persist and recur, the only way to overcome them is to be brave and confront them. A therapist will have the skills and training required to help you do this in a safe environment, guiding you through any emotions you may feel on the way.