Overcoming Your Fear of Counselling
Unfortunately, the very word ‘counselling’ can often come with a stigma attached to it. As soon as some people hear the word, it brings to mind people who need help and can’t control their own lives – it can be hugely blown out of proportion throughout the media and even in your social circles. We can see a news report about a celebrity couple going to couples’ therapy and instantly assume the worst – it’s for attention, their relationship is surely over, their marriage is done! Even your close friends may ‘look down’ on therapy if they haven’t been adequately educated about what it actually is. Chit-chat between them about a colleague who asked for therapy through her work can turn into a negative conversation about how she can’t cope or is using it as a way to excuse poor performance. Thankfully, these types of uneducated speculations are lessening, due to the fact that more and more people are beginning to talk about mental health and counselling in a more open, supportive way. Even know we still do find some people who don’t understand how beneficial it can really be – no matter who you are and what concern you are trying to work through.
Counselling shouldn’t ever be viewed in negative terms – after all, it is a place where we go to try and work on self-improvement to become happier and mentally well. Counselling, and the constructive conversations it can facilitate is an excellent resource to use when there are issues in your life that are causing you mental stress, confusion or even anger. When your emotions and thoughts are muddled, a therapist can help you untangle this and address why you felt so lost in the first place – it doesn’t matter whether this issue is seemingly small or if it is huge and life-changing. If a problem is affecting your happiness, it’s time to talk about it.
Don’t let the negative associations other people place on counselling deter you from going. Whether it is a work, life or relationship hiccup that sends you searching for a therapist, going for your first session is often the best decision you can make in finding closure.
Counselling is Like Any Other Medication
One of the best ways to overcome your fear of therapy is to look at it like it is: its medication. It’s the same as taking antibiotics for an infection or paracetamol for a headache. Mental health issues are becoming more recognised in the media and society as ‘proper illnesses’ that need to be addressed in the same way as a physical ailment – for example, a broken leg. Therapists treat your mental health as a doctor would address their patient: they work with you to look at the issue and find a solution, with therapists working in-depth to understand your emotions and feelings and the significant impact the hold over your mentality.
Don’t let anyone shame you for going to therapy. If the discussion ever comes up where someone questions your decision or claims you ‘can sort it out on your own’, just ask them if they’ve ever taken medication. The probability is that they have, so just explain to them that this is your medication, only you’re not tackling a physical ailment but something more innate. Letting your fear overcome you and not seeking help can lead to more physical side-effect like insomnia, loss of appetite and for some people, the very worst, contemplation of suicide. Losing control of our thoughts can lead to people feeling alienated from society.
No One Needs to Know You Attend
Before you start working yourself into a state wondering what your ‘anti-therapy’ friends are going to think when you tell them you are meeting a counsellor, you need to remember one vital thing: no one needs to know! Therapy is between you and the counsellor and no one else.
Other people’s opinions shouldn’t affect your decision to seek outside help. Therapy isn’t a new dress or pair of jeans you want your friends to comment on, but something much more personal that you don’t even need to share with your family if you decide you don’t want to.
If you are attending group therapy or couples therapy, maybe it is something you need to discuss with them during the sessions. Asking them to keep this private and between yourselves isn’t a huge ask, and your therapist will discuss confidentiality with you when you first come to counselling. Therapy is about privacy, and nothing you say in the room should leave it without your knowledge, so make sure you bring this up in your sessions.
You Can Go as Little or as Much as You Like
When you first start therapy, you may be uncertain about the future because you still have some fear surrounding the nature of the sessions and outside perspective. As a result, based on the issues you present in your first sessions, your counsellor may recommend more regular weekly sessions to help you get used to being open with a person you haven’t met before. However, you may feel like you need some more time to process your decision and request a later session. Don’t feel bad for asking for a longer wait as the comfort and happiness of the client is of the highest importance to your therapist. Moreover, by having those extra two weeks without therapy, you may come to realise how much it has already changed your perspective on things and motivate you more for your next sessions.
This also applies further into your therapy journey. Over time, a therapist may recommend biweekly or monthly sessions, for example, because they see improvement. However, life is full of speed bumps and if something knocks you over you can schedule a session earlier than recommended because you need that support and advice. Asking for this is something I would encourage as it allows me to be up-to-date with everything impacting your mental health. If you let your fear or nerves overcome you and wait those extra weeks till your next session, you could end up affecting your mental health even more.
Just Give It a Go!
The best way to overcome your fear of therapy is to dive right in and book your first session. Your nerves might grow in the days before you meet your counsellor for the first time, but the time in your first session can be used to address why you are so scared of therapy and whether this is to do with internal issues or outside scrutiny.
After your first sessions, you then have to time reflect over the impact it is having on your mental health and fears so far. Your therapist may have discussed with you how they plan to structure some of the future sessions so that you have an understanding of the time frame surrounding your treatment. As you attend more sessions and you delve deeper into your mental health with your counsellor, you can assess how being open and honest to an outsider is impacting your perspective on specific issues. Comparing this to how you felt before is the best way to understand how therapy is helping you as an individual.
Therapy is an incredible resource to use when you feel like specific problems are forcing you onto your knees and begging for help. Use some of the tips above to overcome any fears or apprehensions you have and book your first session today. If you want to learn more about me and my services, then feel free to contact me today.