How to Overcome Your Negative Views of Counselling
Counselling can be an excellent resource for individuals, couples or groups looking to learn more about their mental health and work through challenges that affect their daily lives.
Whether you want relationship support, therapy for depression or anxiety or someone to help you begin to understand confused emotions, counsellors are the outside and objective voice that can really make a difference. Not everyone is comfortable being open about their emotions and talking to someone new and some feel there is even a stigma attached to therapy – perhaps they feel it makes them appear weak and as a result they may be worried about judgement from friends and family.
As a counsellor myself, I know the many benefits that people from all kinds of backgrounds can gain from seeking help from people like me. In the following, I want to break down the stigma surrounding therapy and open your eyes to the healing power of counselling so that you might take that first step and reach out for help.
Not everyone is as forward-thinking and open to seeking help for mental health in this modern age as you may think – even with more news coverage and positive media surrounding these issues. Some people still believe in helping yourself first or sucking it up and just ‘getting over’ your issues, when in fact this can be an impossibility for some and can lead to more emotional damage in the long run. Sometimes, people don’t understand how therapy works and how it can help people with psychological and emotional issues which aren’t as clear to the eye as a physical disability. Those with friends or family with ideas like this can often be too afraid to contact a therapist because they don’t want to be judged by those around them.
However, you shouldn’t let other people’s, or even your own, confusion or fear of counselling prevent you from reaching out. Think of therapy like a medication for your mental health. Just as you would get a prescription from the doctor for physical illness to help tackle the source and relieve symptoms, therapy provides similar benefits. While working with your counsellor, you can target the symptoms of whatever is troubling you while also figuring out why you feel this way to begin with. This is a perfectly reasonable route to take when suffering from mental health issues and is recommended, just like seeking out medication for a sickness.
No One Needs to Know
The shame and embarrassment that some people feel when considering therapy can be what holds them back from making a smart decision. Don’t let these negative feelings prevent you from seeking out the help you deserve. Instead, remember that when you go to therapy, everything you discuss is confidential between you and your counsellor and no one needs to know why you are going (or that you even attend therapy at all if you don’t want them to).
Pick times more suited to you or when you know you won’t be contacted by friends or family asking for your whereabouts. Even if you are asked questions, find the confidence to tell them you are doing something private and if they respect you, then they won’t press further. But if you are very concerned about how to keep therapy under wraps from those around you, a little white lie about a weekly session at the gym can make you feel more relaxed. When speaking with your counsellor, you can address why you feel shame about therapy and discuss ways to overcome these feelings and even how you can be more open with your family and help them understand why you have these sessions.
Lots of People Go
If you are still nervous or unsure about attending therapy as some still consider it as ‘taboo’ or unusual, then you need to remember that lots of people go. When walking down the street, take a minute to look at the people around you. Each person has their own life with their problems, and some of them will be seeking therapy to help them cope with these issues and understand their emotions. They might have had the same concerns or worries as you, but have taken the leap themselves and sought out the help to move forward with their lives.
Not everyone in therapy is open to talking about it, but one piece of advice to try and overcome your negative views is to talk more openly about your concerns and beliefs surrounding this practice. Mention to some friends or coworkers an article on therapy you read online over the weekend, or even be more honest about how you are looking into it. People you may never have considered being in counselling might come out and tell you about their own experiences and benefits from therapy and help enlighten you and make you feel more prepared.
It Will Make a Difference
The most important thing to remember is that looking past your shame, anxiety and concerns and going to your first session is the best decision you can make as therapy will make a difference in your life. People might think their problems are too small to consider treatment, or too big or personal to involve a stranger. However, anything that is causing you mental turmoil is something that can be addressed and resolved in therapy. With degrees and experience to back them, counsellors can help you come to the root of your emotional concerns and find out why you are acting or feeling a certain way, tackling the symptoms and the cause at the same time.
A therapist won’t know from the get-go how many sessions you will need, and often an open-ended partnership is best. Even when you or your therapist feel like you can slow down your sessions, it is still good to have a session now and then to help tackle any small or large concerns that pop up as well as discuss new tactics and advice. Whether it is face to face, over the phone or on Skype, a catch-up chat every few months will help you recognise how much your mental health has changed for the better.
Therapy isn’t something you should shy away from. It is an incredible resource that can help you understand your mind and emotions more, especially at a time when people recognise the importance of mental health. If you want to learn more about my services, feel free to contact me today.