Deciding to see a counsellor is often a difficult decision, which takes place over time. In most cases, people don’t feel comfortable when they see a counsellor for the first time. Here are a few of the reasons that prevent or delay people from taking the steps to give counselling a try…
1. “Receiving counselling is a sign of weakness.”
Nothing could be further from the truth. It takes courage to address problem areas and examine painful feelings. Entering counselling is taking the first step in resolving difficulties.
2. “People who go to counseling are crazy. I’m not crazy!”
Some people who receive counselling feel “sick” in the sense of being unhappy, but you don’t need to be feeling sick or non-functioning to go into counseling, you just need to be feeling stuck. Counselling helps when you have tried to address a situation on your own but your strategies don’t seem to help.
Asking for help is a sign of maturity, self-awareness and possession of a sense of inner strength.
3. “Everyone will know what I talk about.”
All counselling sessions are confidential. There are some rare exceptional cases. Counsellors have a legal responsibility to disclose information without your consent if that is necessary to protect you or others from serious harm. These include cases where a client has communicated a serious threat of physical violence toward him/herself or someone else, or when a counsellor has reasonable cause to believe that the client is so unable to care for him or herself that the situation is life threatening. Additionally, counsellors are obligated to report any cases of child abuse or elder abuse.
4. “I wouldn’t even know what to talk about.”
You don’t need to know what to talk about before you come. In counselling, people examine whether there are ways they think, feel and/or behave that they can improve. Your counselor will help you identify these areas and how discussing them could be helpful.
5. “I can always talk to a friend. I don’t understand how talking to a stranger can be helpful.”
Friends can provide wonderful support and empathy, and that’s often enough to help us through difficult times. But a counselling relationship is different in a very important way. In a friendship the needs of both people must be attended to. Friendships involve a mutual exchange of listening and sharing. In counselling, the focus is solely on you and during this dialogue about you, your counselor is trained to use therapeutic techniques to help you.
6. “I don’t believe just talking can do any good.”
Talking can actually do a lot of good. Discussing something with someone who cares about you and who is not judgmental helps relieve the emotional pressure caused by keeping our thoughts and feelings to ourselves. But counseling involves much more than just talking. Counselling provides a way for us to understand who we are and how we relate to the world around us. In counselling we focus our attention on aspects of our experience that we may have been previously unaware of. This provides new ways of looking at our problems and this often gives us new ways to handle these problems.
7. “I’m betraying my family.”
Counsellors are sensitive and respectful of concerns about family traditions and privacy. If conflicts about loyalty to family and culture are of concern, these issues can be discussed in the first session before more personal matters are addressed.
8. “If I talk about my problems, I’ll just make them worse, or completely fall apart.”
On the contrary, examining previously suppressed concerns and worries helps dissipate the pain and intensity and helps us understand our problems better. Counselling provides a forum for exploring choices, which produces better decision making.