By David Joel Miller, MS, Licensed Therapist & Licensed Counselor.
Why are you avoiding counseling?
Many people avoid going to the doctor as if seeing a doctor would be the cause of their illness. Avoiding counseling, in one form or another, is even more common than avoiding medical treatment.
Most people who put the effort into counseling see improvement in their lives. Here are some of the reasons people commonly say they are avoiding therapy.
Doesn’t going to therapy mean I am weak or crazy?
Not at all. Going for treatment does not mean you’re weak or giving into your symptoms. What it does say is that you are willing to face your problems. We used to think that there were two kinds of people, normal people, and the mentally ill. We now know that being mentally healthy requires more than lack of illness. The things we call mental illnesses are treatable. Facing your problems reduces their impact on your life.
The fear of being diagnosed as mentally ill is a throwback to the days when there wasn’t an effective treatment for mental illnesses. Our system of care used to be designed to try to immediately cure people. If you break a leg, a doctor can set it. When we didn’t have effective treatments for mental illness being diagnosed meant there was no hope.
Today we know that there are talk therapies which have been shown to be effective in curing some mental illnesses. Even those that can’t be cured can be made substantially better. Seeking treatment for a mental health challenge does not mean you’re weak. It says you are acting to make your mental life healthier and happier.
Talk therapy resembles coaching.
Highly successful athletes still have coaches. My view of counseling is that it should function in a similar way to coaching. The goal should be more than merely detecting what’s wrong with you. It should also entail finding solutions to your life problems so that you can have a happy, productive life.
In the same way that a baseball player or a golfer can’t see their own swing, many people can’t see the unhelpful thoughts. A counselor can help you with other ways to look at your problems and help you learn the skills to overcome life’s difficulties.
One significant difference between counseling and life coaching is the professional counselors and therapists are specially trained in diagnosing and treating mental illness. In most places, they are also licensed. While some life coaches can help you work on becoming more successful professional counselors can help you with the depression or anxiety that is interfering with your life.
You are afraid your secrets will get out.
Counselors are committed to keeping what you talk about with them confidential. Outside of a few legal exceptions, such as plans to kill yourself or others and abuse of children and the elderly, what you are going to talk to the counselor about will not leave the consulting room. Questions about what is and is not confidential and what counselors would keep confidential is one of the most common reasons people visit the counselorssoapbox.com blog. For more about confidentiality, please look at the posts under Law and Ethics.
Talking about your problems is embarrassing.
Talking about your problem could be embarrassing. During their career, counselors hear a substantial number of secrets. Chances are your counselor has heard something remarkably like what you’re about to tell them. They’ve also studied the kinds of problems to bring people to counseling.
Counselors try to approach people empathetically, being able to mentally put themselves into the client situation. They also try to practice unconditional positive regard. Regardless of your problem or what you have done in the past, the counselor wants to see the best in you and try to help you change and become a better person. It’s not the counselor’s job to judge you.
You believe your problem is beyond help.
Some life problems are more difficult to treat than others. Talk therapy can help even those people with the most severe mental illnesses to improve the quality of their lives. Many people are surprised to find how much their problems are like the problems of others around them. I believe that while some mental illnesses can’t be cured, all of them can be managed. Recovery from mental illnesses just like recovery from addiction and alcoholism is possible.
You’re looking for an instant solution like medication or drugs and alcohol.
Overnight successes are often the result of years of struggle and practice. Medication can help you manage your symptoms, but it won’t eliminate all your problems. Quick fixes like drugs and alcohol can distract you from your life problems for a while, but eventually, they quit working and living with an even more serious problem called addiction.
You believe counseling will cost too much or take too much time.
Counseling for mental health challenges is often covered by insurance. Even if you had to pay out-of-pocket, you should compare the cost of getting counseling with the costs you incur trying to solve the problem with other methods.
Couples sometimes think they can fix the relationship with a romantic weekend somewhere. They spend thousands of dollars on that trip but then tell me they can’t afford to come for marriage counseling. The cost of marriage counseling is substantially less than the price of obtaining a divorce.
Compare what you will spend in time and money to get a two-year or four-year college degree. Education is an investment in yourself. If your mental or emotional problems prevent you from being successful in school or in life, all that effort and money will have been wasted. Investing in your mental health is one of your best investment opportunities.
You don’t believe your life could get any better.
When you’re deep in life’s problems, it’s hard to see how things could get better. Counselors are trained to help people overcome life’s difficulties. If you’ve lost hope, the counselor may help you get it back. If it feels like nothing you’ve done in your life has worked may be working with the counselor can help you find the things that will work.
You’re convinced the solution is moving, changing jobs, or changing partners.
It’s easy to move through life thinking that your problems are where you live. People tell me that they can only move somewhere else then they would be happy. When I asked him why they don’t do it, they give me all kinds of reasons why they must stay where they are and be miserable.
Wherever you are, whatever work you are doing and whoever you are in a relationship with you are responsible for your own feelings. Counseling can help you learn how to make the best out of where you are and how to decide when it’s time for a change.
You believe the problem is someone else.
People often believe that their problems are someone else’s fault. If that person would only change they could be happy, or maybe only less depressed and anxious. Counseling can’t change that other person, but it can help you improve your thinking and behavior. Sometimes if you change the way your living your life, the other person will change. Even when you can’t change others, you can find ways to reduce the impact they’re having on your life.
Have you been telling yourself you need to talk to somebody about your problem? What’s holding you back from finally taking responsibility for your life and seeking out the help you need to create the most effective life possible?
Staying connected with David Joel Miller
Three David Joel Miller Books are available now!
Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.
Casino Robbery is a novel about a man with PTSD who must cope with his symptoms to solve a mystery and create a new life.
Sasquatch. Wandering through a hole in time, they encounter Sasquatch. Can they survive? The guests had come to Meditation Mountain to find themselves. Trapped in the Menhirs during a sudden desert storm, two guests move through a porthole in time and encounter long extinct monsters. They want to get back to their own time, but the Sasquatch intends to kill them.
For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Author Page – David Joel Miller
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For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse, and Co-occurring disorders see my Facebook author’s page, davidjoelmillerwriter. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com.