1. Counseling is expensive/No one takes my insurance/The counselor I like doesn’t take my insurance.
There are lots of income-based or sliding-scale fee counseling agencies. It may take some shopping around, but they exist. Your outcome is based largely in how well you relate with said counselor (the therapeutic relationship), so money must be a factor but it shouldn’t be the only one. If you find a counselor online that you really think you’d click with, call them. Lots of times you’ll find their rate to be affordable. Counselors that take insurance typically have a higher fee per session than those who are in private pay practices. You may be paying cash or card, but the bottom line is often less, no insurance company gets some diagnostic code to place in your file for eternity, and you get to experience counseling without labels a lot of the time when there isn’t an insurance filing. Also check your employer’s employee assistance program or EAP. Most offer a number of sessions for free.
2. Receiving counseling is a show of weakness.
Wrong! It takes more guts than imaginable to heave into a counselor’s office in all your glorious human vulnerability and share yourself in order to team up and improve yourself. There’s nearly nothing that is a bigger show of strength than taking control of life with expert help.
3. People who need counseling are mentally ill. I’m not, so I don’t need it.
False. Counseling helps when you need new strategies for any area of life, when you’re experiencing emotions too intensely or not enough, when you’re struggling with relationship problems, or when you need mentorship in life. It doesn’t mean anything other than you being wise enough to enlist expert help. It’s actually kind of chic, but then again I’m biased. Seeking counseling is a sign of maturity and self-awareness.
4. People will find out what I talk about.
Any professional counselor you see is bound by state and federal law, as well as a professional code of ethics that prohibits them from sharing information about you without your permission. The only exceptions vary by state but are usually that your counselor can only share information about you if you intend to harm yourself or others or if you reveal information that indicates child/elder abuse/neglect. Counselors under licensing supervision may share information about specific cases with their license supervisors, who are also bound to protect privacy by law and ethics. Privacy is very important to counselors and we do all we can to protect yours. If you’re in a smaller town like mine you may be worried about bumping into your counselor in public. There’s no need to worry. Your counselor won’t wave at you in Walmart or talk to you in a public place unless you initiate it or give them permission to do so. Rural counselors are very well versed in these issues and most will address the unique concerns of counseling in a small town at the outset. Consider also that there are many companies and counselors offering services online. You can attend counseling from the comfort of a place that you choose. I’m one of many counselors offering services online and via phone.
5. I wouldn’t know what to say.
You don’t have to know exactly what you’ll say when you go in. The counselor will ask you some questions and you’ll be free to talk and dig in as much as you like. Your counselor will help you set goals that are in line with what you want. Let the pro worry about this!
6. I’ve got friends. Talking to them is enough. I don’t need strangers.
Friends are amazing sources of support. Sometimes that is enough. Friendships are give and take, though. Your friend may listen and help and later you will listen and help, there’s an equal sharing. In counseling you’re the sole focus! Sometimes friends are involved in our struggles and they have a stake, however small, in what we decide to do or how we behave in life. Because of that advice or other offerings about our troubles in friendships may be different than what is best for you or helping you create a way to make choices you feel good about.
7. Just talking can’t do any good.
“Just talking” can do lots of good! For the record, though, counseling isn’t just talking. In counseling you can learn how to better communicate, manage emotions healthfully, address relationship difficulties, create a framework that will serve you in addressing all sorts of issues you’ll face in life, restructure the very way you think so that you can heal, grow, and approach life in a way that improves everything from how you feel to how your relationships function and your satisfaction in life. Understanding yourself and the world around you has immeasurable value. In counseling you’ll talk just like with friends, but with someone who is trained at helping you accomplish all of that and is non-judgmental and very accepting.
8. Talking about things makes them worse.
The immediate aftermath of a counseling session can feel raw or during a session you may talk about something that has hurt you, but looking at things in a new place, with someone new, and in a new way can help old pain dissipate in level and intensity. Counseling also helps you find new ways to make decisions and examine problems, which will help prevent past events from repeating themselves in new situations.
9. Talking about some things may mean I’m betraying people I love.
Counselors are trained in multicultural and family concerns. They can discuss these concerns with you before you reveal anything. Also, remember that counselors are bound to confidentiality. What you discuss remains private.
10. Going to counseling could look bad with future employers/affect my ability to do some jobs or activities.
Your mental health records from counseling are confidential. You seeking counseling and information you disclose in counseling will remain private. There are very few exceptions to this and your counselor can explain these to you at your first session.
This list isn’t exhaustive by any means – just the top 10 reasons I encounter in my work. I’m hoping this post clears a few concerns up for those that have them and find this blog during their internet searching for help with life’s issues. Counseling is an amazing, supportive, and science-backed experience that can have positive effects that last a lifetime or change your life in ways that you haven’t believed possible!
If you’re in Texas and you’re counselor shopping, I invite you to try a session with me via video, phone, or in person at my office.