Have you ever thought about asking for help to handle a certain problem or issue? What if you had someone who would listen to what was really bothering you? What if there was just one person who could help make sense of how you feel; could help you find out why you feel what you feel; and could teach you how to deal with it all? The good news is, that someone exists. A counselor.
The National Alliance on Mental Health (NAMI) reports 1 in 5 Americans struggles with a mental health illness in any given year. NAMI also reports 1 in 25 Americans suffers with moderate to severe mental health concerns in any given year in the United States. Despite these numbers, many Americans continue to place a stigma on mental illness and seeking out counseling to address mental health concerns.
Here are 7 reasons some of us shy away from counseling:
What will other people think?
So many of us make decisions for ourselves based on what others will think of us if we ________ (fill in the blank). But the reality is, those other people aren't thinking half as hard about us as we are about them. And, what happens to you if you allow other people to determine whether or not you get the help you need? Would you allow someone's opinion of you stop you from getting treatment for cancer?
Am I crazy if I need counseling?
The short answer, NO! You are not crazy if you choose to seek out counseling. Actually, some of the best counseling work happens when you are healthy. It's always a good to idea to reach out for help if you are in crisis. But know counseling is for there for you in good times and in bad.
Things aren't that bad.
See above! Counseling is a great idea if things are good or bad. Here's the other thing, sometimes, we minimize (fancy therapy word for making things seem like they are better than they actually are) and convince ourselves things aren't really that bad.
It's not me. It's everyone else.
Sometimes, it can be difficult to look at what is happening with us. It becomes easy to convince ourselves that other people are the problem. But, when we choose to look everyone else's way in an effort to quiet our own fears about counseling and asking for help, we lose out in the end and miss an opportunity to live a happier, healthier life.
I have other people to take care of first.
If you're a mom, or caregiver, you fall in here. When you carry the responsibility of caring for others (your kids, an elderly parent, a family member with a disability) it can be easy to believe your needs are less important than the needs of those you care for. Guess what? You're needs may be MORE important! I know this feels wrong. It sounds wrong. But, if you aren't healthy (mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually) you can't care for the precious little ones, that elderly parent, or your family member. Take care of you first because without a HEALTHY you, you can't care for those treasured people.
I don't have time for counseling.
This is a tough one. We all live incredibly busy lives these days don't we? Time seems to be the one thing we don't have but we all need. It can be easy to make time the reason you don't seek out the help of a counselor. Maybe it's that you don't have time to drive to the counselor's office, you don't have time to find a babysitter, you don't have time during the week when a counselor is available, or the only time you have is on the weekend and you aren't able to find a counselor who has weekend hours. Whatever the challenge, there is a way around it! Traveling to a counseling office, not having a babysitter, not finding one with the hours you need, these are all challenges for sure. The good news is, technology has made connecting with a counselor easier than ever before! Counselors in many states can now see clients online with the option of seeing them in their office when you are able. Some counselors even have weekend hours.
What if my counselor tells people what we talk about?
This is a fear we hear often in the counseling field. Telling someone your deepest struggles and sharing your fears can seem terrifying. In most states in the U.S. confidentiality is not only an ethical matter, it's also a legal one. Being bound by confidentiality means your counselor can't tell anyone what you discuss unless you give them written permission to do so. There are a few limits to confidentiality. That's something you can talk with your counselor about.
Whatever your reason, don't let it stop you from getting the thing you need to help you feel better! Remember, counseling is something you can seek out when things are good, bad, or in the middle. No problem is too big, or too small. And, you can rest easy knowing what you share is safe.
About the Author: Hi I'm Alexie (Lexie) Belle. I'm a licensed mental health counselor in Florida. I'm also a wife, a mommy to three great kids, a Christ follower, and a food allergy mom. I provide counseling and therapy to women and teenage girls who struggle with depression, anxiety, postpartum depression, and food allergy related anxiety in person. I also see clients for online counseling (online therapy) available in the evening and on Saturdays. If you have any questions about what you've read or how to set up a session, feel free to send me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or call 561·600·8764.