Guess What! It isn't as bad as what you think!
Going to counseling can be a scary concept, so if you're avoiding it -- you're not alone. You might wonder if counseling will work, what it means about your relationship, and if the financial investment is really worth it. People put off finding counseling for plenty of reasons, but the truth is that you don't have to be ashamed about wanting help, and putting it off can likely make your situation worse. Here are some of the main reasons people avoid counseling.
If you recognize any of these excuses, here’s why you should go to counseling anyway.
1. The Financial Aspect:
Yes, coming to counseling will cost money. Think of counseling as an investment in your life, whether it’s individual counseling or couples counseling. It’s OK to put yourself first and spend money getting back on track — it’s worth it in the long run.
2. Horror Stories:
Sometimes you might hear a story from a friend or other loved one about counseling gone bad. Maybe your friend left counseling feeling that it didn’t work, or your sister says she had a therapist who wouldn’t really listen to her. It can be hard to be motivated to go to counseling yourself when you’ve heard a bad story. Counseling is different for each person, and it’s important not to let someone else’s bad experience steer you clear of counseling.
3. Bad Previous Experience:
Maybe you haven’t heard horror stories from others, but you yourself have gone to counseling before and didn’t think it helped you. Remember that each counselor is different, and many use entirely different styles and theories. Instead of writing off all counseling, look for a counselor who uses a different approach than your previous counselor.
4. It’s Only for “Crazy” People:
No, counseling isn’t just for crazy people, or couples who are totally dysfunctional. Counseling can address so many issues, and is really just a safe space to talk freely about what you’re going through and get help moving forward. It can benefit almost anyone who needs to figure out the reason behind bad feelings or troubled communication.
5. Privacy Concerns:
If you’re a private or reserved person, it seems intimidating to open up in front of a complete stranger, it’s true. You might also have reservations about repeating personal conversations. However, a good counselor will make you feel comfortable, and over time you can actually feel quite safe about being honest in counseling. And, of course, anything you say in counseling is completely confidential and won’t be repeated.
6. Other Peoples’ Opinions:
Even if you don’t announce that you’re going to counseling, at some point your friends and family may find out you are going to counseling, and it’s easy to be anxious about what they’ll think. In reality, counseling is about your personal development, and you might be surprised that people who love you are totally supportive about you wanting to improve yourself. Even if other people judge you in a negative way, the benefits of counseling outweigh listening to a negative opinion about it.
If you pride yourself on being self-sufficient, stepping into a counselor’s office might feel like you’re letting yourself down. You might think you can handle your problems on your own, and asking for help means you’re weak. On the contrary — counseling helps you build a stronger self-esteem and learn new tools for handling whatever life throws at you. You’re not weak for reaching out!
8. It’s Overwhelming:
The thought of tackling a big problem is overwhelming, so you might procrastinate going to counseling or avoid it altogether. This won’t make your problems disappear, however, and things might get a whole lot worse. Your counselor will help you tackle issues piece by piece, and give you realistic goals so you won’t be overwhelmed.
9. Drudging Up the Past is Scary:
Bringing up past hurt isn’t fun, and the thought of going as far back as childhood might be a deal breaker for people considering counseling. Yes, you will probably have to bring up some past issues in counseling. But keep in mind that these issues will be there whether you enter counseling or not — at least when you go to counseling you can start to work through them. Pretending that past hurt doesn’t matter anymore won’t make it go away.
10. Small Problems Don’t Require Counseling:
Many people think your problems must be HUGE before you go to counseling. So, they put off seeking help because it seems silly to go to counseling over what they conceive to be a minor issue. The thing is, small problems can snowball into big ones. It often makes sense to get counseling if you have a problem that is haunting you or your relationship, no matter how minor, so you can prevent it from getting bigger.
Often clients say to me during our counseling sessions that they should have started therapy a long time ago. Don’t let things get worse by continuing to put it off and book an appointment today.
About Jennine Estes, MFT
Think of me as your relationship consultant, I'm your neutral third party that can help you untangle the emotions and help you figure out what's really going on. I am a Marriage and Family Therapist in San Diego, CA. Certified in Emotionally Focused Therapy for Couples. Supervisor. I write relationship and self growth advice for my column Relationships in the Raw. Creator of #BeingLOVEDIs campaign. MFC#47653