What holds people back from starting counselling?

Having gone through my own counselling journey, I can really appreciate just how daunting a prospect it is to go and see a counsellor and chat about things that you may not have even told those who are closest to you.

Friday, 11th June 2021, 4:12 pm
Jamie McQuade

I thought it would be helpful if we discussed some of the main reasons why people are reluctant to invest in themselves and work through the issues that have been holding them back.

Other people’s problems are bigger than mine:

Many people think that their problem really is not all that bad as other people are far worse off than they are and they think that a counsellor would tell them that their problem is not ‘big’ enough for therapy.

I get this as I used this excuse many years ago and it is a common misunderstanding as the view of many people is that to go to counselling you must have reached a crisis point. I am here to tell you that you do not have to be at a crisis point to engage in counselling and a good therapist will be respectful towards the issues you are facing.

With our physical health most of us do not wait until the issue becomes serious before we seek help, we go to see our GP or go to the hospital, and we do not give it a second thought because that is what you have been brought up to do.

I believe that our mental health should be treated in the same manner and the earlier you can get help to work through your challenges; the greater the chance you have of getting back control of your life.

People are looking for a quick fix:

The reality is good therapy will not happen overnight no matter how talented the therapist.

We are so used in modern life to getting things almost straight away - such as ordering online, and the item will be there the following day.

Therapy can be a powerful process, but it does take time and requires a commitment from both the client and the counsellor to turn up and do the work so that you get the most from it, and while it will not happen overnight the progress you are looking for is achievable if you give it some time, consistency and trust the process.

People are worried about facing their feelings:

This is totally understandable and is a natural worry as most people feel it is better to keep the lid closed on their feelings, because they feel that if they open the lid it leads to the floodgates being opened. And this might be too upsetting for them to think about.

If you have been considering counselling, it might be because you have tried putting a lid over your emotions and it is not working for you.

That fear that counselling will be too overwhelming is perfectly natural and a good therapist will help you work through your feelings and emotions and show you tools and techniques that will help you manage those emotions much more beneficially.

People feel ashamed to ask for help:

As I mentioned earlier, there is a stigma that is still attached to people struggling with their mental health and seeking help. My view is that getting help for your mental health is the same as getting help with your physical health because one affects the other and vice versa.

The truth of the matter is that we all need help from time to time and this stigma that by asking for help you are somehow weak, or a failure, needs to be addressed as it takes great strength to be able to ask for help.

People fear counselling will not work:

This is a common barrier that I hear when people contact me about starting therapy. They have looked at my website or social media pages and they tell me it all sounds great, but question, will it work for them.

The journey to overcoming the issues you are struggling with must begin somewhere and taking a leap of faith and speaking with a counsellor might just be that very step that you need.

If you would like more daily advice and inspiration, please follow the E-Therapy NI Facebook and Instagram pages, or get in touch via private message and I would be delighted to help.

If you need to talk, we are here to listen.