People have often told me that before coming in for their first appointment they had my number for a while, but hesitated to reach out. I always ask those people what gets in the way of coming in for therapy. I’ve wondered is it the stigma about asking for help? Are they afraid they will be judged? Is it the time or money? Here are 8 reasons I’ve heard about why people hesitate to come in and why I think they are misconceptions.
1. I have a good support system of family and friends, so why talk to a stranger?
Family and friends can be an extremely beneficial support system during difficult times. Though when it comes to certain topics, you may be holding back in what you share with them for fear of “burdening” your loved ones or fear of being judged. Therapists have professional training to help you manage difficult life circumstances and do so in a way that creates a safe space without judgment. My clients have told me they have shared things with me that they have never revealed to their spouse, parents, siblings, or friends.
2. Therapy is a time commitment.
I often compare therapy to running. You aren’t going to run once and set a record marathon time. At first you may walk, but eventually you can run longer distances at faster speeds. Therapy takes time, though using your emotional energy on things that are not working is also time consuming and draining. As you experience relief through therapy, there is a natural reinforcement that makes it feel worth the time.
3. I’ve tried therapy before and it didn’t help. Why try again?
If you have had a negative or bland experience, why would you want to give therapy another shot? The most likely cause is that you and your therapist were not a good fit. I see people experience the most growth when there is a good relationship between the therapist and client, which comes down to a number of personal factors.
4. I don’t want my business and information shared.
Confidentiality and privacy are extremely important, especially with the sensitive nature of therapy. I always explain this in person at the first session and here is a link that talks about this more in depth.
5. I must have serious issues. Or, my issues are not serious enough.
Before even getting into the room, people judge themselves or worry that the therapist will judge and compare them to others. I should be able to handle this. I know what my issue is. Other people have it worse. What really matters is that you are hurting and in need of this time for self-care, which has nothing to do with anyone else and the seriousness of their problems. You are entitled to feel the way you feel and you deserve a safe space to process your feelings!
6. If I had extra money to spend, I would rather (fill in the blank) than go to therapy.
I get this one too. We all have a list of things we would rather spend money on that seem more enjoyable than talking about our problems and feelings. Sometimes it seems easier to prioritize our physical health over emotional health and wellbeing. Just like gym memberships, yoga, and beauty all cost money and time, taking care of our emotional health has similar costs.
7. How is talking about it going to help or can you change the past?
For some, it can be counterintuitive to believe that talking about things that are painful can actually help one feel better. We need to experience our emotions and understand our experiences in order to heal and going through this process with a professional may be the only way to do so. It is a hard concept to understand until you have experienced it, but when people get to a point where they need to try something new, they give someone like me a call.
8. I don’t want to make my problems worse by talking about them.
It can be painful to revisit past experiences or to take a hard look at the person you are or want to be. Therapists are professionally trained to do this in a safe way to prevent overwhelming feelings. Initially you may feel worse, but this is often the way the healing process works. Your therapist will provide support to help you manage your feelings during the process of therapy.