1. I should be able to deal with things myself
First of all, counselling is not a sign of weakness. You might have always been a problem solver but this time you can’t see a way out. Pay attention when you say things like ‘I should’, ‘I have to’, ‘I must’ because they can say a lot about how much pressure you are putting on yourself. Counselling is just as much for you as anyone else-in fact those problem-solving skills could be really helpful. Change happens in therapy when we talk; it’s the sharing of your thoughts, feelings and emotions with someone who can listen without judgement but also challenge those assumptions about how strong you ‘have’ to be. Undertaking therapy can be one of the bravest things you will do.
2. Have you seen how much it costs? I’d rather spend my money on….
There are lots of things that you would probably rather spend money on to take your mind off your problems. But are any of them actually helping to change things after the buzz of that latest purchase/night out has worn off?
Counsellors do have lots of ongoing costs including room rental, insurance, training and regular supervision, and costs associated with ensuring they are meeting professional standards. That’s why counselling isn’t necessarily cheap. But many counsellors offer concessions or have sliding scale rates
If cost really is prohibitive-and for many people it is-there are other options. You might be able to access counselling though your work. Many organisations use Employee Assistance Schemes so check your contract/staff handbook. There are also a range of charities
who offer counselling for specific groups of people or issues from bereavement support to help for carers. These are likely to be short term counselling options but try it. You might be surprised at the results.
3. An able bodied, middle aged, middle class white woman isn’t going to ‘get’ my problems
I can tell you that we are all here to listen without judgement and to empathise with exactly what is going on for you. But that might not be enough and perhaps you want to sit across from someone who actually looks like you or has a shared experience, especially if you feel part of an already marginalized group. Counsellors do come in all shapes, sizes, colours, religions, neurodiversity, sex and gender orientations. Use a counselling directory; you can use their search tools to find a counsellor who is right for you. You are not a stereotype, and neither are we.
4. I don’t want anyone to know I’m seeing a counsellor
One of the consequences of the pandemic is that most counsellors now offer online and telephone counselling as well as face to face sessions. This means you can access counselling from home-as long as you have a quiet, confidential space you can use for the length of your session. No one needs to know you are seeing a counsellor unless you tell them.
5. I can talk to my friends and family about stuff, why would I talk to a random stranger?
Why indeed. Having close family and friends you can share with can be a joyous thing. But sometimes it isn’t enough. Counselling is a different type of relationship and can be a very powerful one. That’s because we don’t judge you and we don’t tell you what to do. We are trained listeners who can challenge you to look deep into yourself to find your own solutions. And what if part of the problem is those family and friend relationships? Many of us grew up hearing that family problems should stay within the family and we shouldn’t talk about things with strangers; that’s been part of many cultures for generations. Perhaps your partner doesn’t want you to talk to someone else. Maybe your friends have lots of ‘advice’ but not much emotional support-or maybe they just agree with everything you say and that doesn’t seem to help either. There are many reasons why talking to a counsellor can support you to grow and change in ways friends and family cannot.
6. It’s not really going to change anything, is it?
Let’s be realistic here. Our society is not a fair one and you might be someone who faces huge barriers due to income or discrimination. But what counselling can and does do is give you a space where you can talk with someone you trust and who can work with you to find new ways of looking at things. It can help you change your attitudes and behaviours, question your thoughts and feelings and find new meanings in life, no matter what external challenges you are facing.
And we all fear the unknown. Change is scary and sometimes it’s easier to accept where we are in life as something beyond our control. But how is that working out for you? Maybe it’s time to try a new way.
7. My problem isn’t that bad, counselling is for the big stuff
If it’s big to you, then it’s big enough to take to counselling. Your counsellor can help you look at what is underneath those fears, stresses, feelings of stuckness or general dissatisfaction. You might just need a couple of sessions or perhaps you’ll find that the counselling relationship is one you want to continue for longer. Lots of counsellors offer an initial short chat where you can decide if counselling is right for you at this time.
8. If I think I’m depressed I’ll just go to the doctor and get some pills
Medication absolutely has its place. Counselling is not a replacement if you have a diagnosed condition that requires prescribed medication to help you function and you find that it helps. Counselling can, however, be another route to improved mental health, perhaps in conjunction with prescribed medication. Many GP’s refer patients to counselling when it seems like the drugs aren’t enough. Talking therapy can be part of the solution to bring about psychological change.
9. I tried it before and it didn’t work
It happens. A counselling relationship is like any other; sometimes you gel with the person, sometimes you don’t. Each counselling relationship is completely unique, and no two counsellors are the same. That’s why asking about that initial short consultation can be so helpful. It’s your opportunity to see if this counsellor is someone you think you can talk to and if they feel ‘right’ for you.
10. I don’t want to open that can of worms
Scary, isn’t it? Like if you start talking then who knows what will come out and what you’ll be left to deal with after the session. I’m not going to lie; therapy can be hard work and sometimes things might feel worse before they get better. There isn’t always a ‘quick fix’ solution and sometimes we need to go deeper to find the answers. And a lot of the work of therapy is done outside the session as you process what has been discussed. Your counsellor is skilled in offering a compassionate space for you to open that can of worms safely, slowly and if any escape, help you gather them up and either put them back in in the can or let them just wriggle away. Perhaps it’s time for the worms to find a new home. Maybe you don’t need to carry the can anymore.