Why do we delay asking for help?
It seems that the most frequent reason we delay or hesitate seeing a counsellor or a psychotherapist is because we refuse to admit that we have emotional difficulties and we cannot cope with our psychological disturbances, problematic relationships and unhealthy emotions like: anxiety, depression, shame, guilt, etc. We are in denial and we often think that if we ignore our problems or hide them from others they might disappear one day as if they had never troubled us. Instead of looking for help, we exercise our mind in finding excuses:
"I haven't got time."
"I haven't got money for counselling."
"I haven't found a good counsellor."
"How can another person know how I feel?"
"I can help myself."
"I can buy a self-help book and use all the information from there."
Sometimes people express their doubts regarding the power of psychotherapy or the professionalism of a therapist: "Counselling won't help. How can a therapist help me?"
Some of us feel ashamed or embarrassed because we need emotional support and the idea that a counsellor might judge us will be enough to postpone or even stop looking for one: "What will she/he think of me?"
Then let us not forget about some cultural prejudices like: "Only weak people need counselling. Come on, pull yourself together." This alone can make us think twice before asking for help.
The last but not the least important reason we delay seeing a therapist is because we feel scared, even terrified to lay bare every thought and feeling in front of another person: "I will be so frightened of talking about..."
The big step between admitting that we need professional help to address our problems and overcoming our fears, doubts, embarrassment and prejudices is the hardest, but the most important one. There is no shame in wanting to live a better life and in asking for professional help in order to achieve our goal.
We need to look after our emotional well-being the same way we do with our physical well-being. When we feel physically ill, going to a doctor helps us improve our health. What about when we feel emotionally or psychologically unwell? Going to a therapist can open so many doors for us - in a confidential, safe and non-judgemental space we are listened to, helped to explore and clarify our feelings, thoughts and behaviour, look at life events from a different perspective, define our goals and find ways of achieving them, get empowered to make necessary changes and ultimately, improve the quality of our life.
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About Svetlana Kelleher
Counsellor/psychotherapist working in Chichester with individuals and couples, experienced in anxiety, depression, anger, stress, loss, eating disorders, low self-confidence, personal development, cross cultural issues and using a flexible therapeutic style including effective tools and strategies corresponding to the clients' needs.