9 Myths About Going to See a Counselor
1. Going to see a counselor means I’m effed up
Nope! Some people attend treatment to discuss stressors (work stress, marital stress, financial stress, etc) in their lives and best practices for managing those stressors. Some folks just want to do some maintenance work to maintain a certain level of social/emotional/behavioral centeredness. I believe the stigma of mental health is slowly being chiseled away. Treatment is cool! The change process is uncomfortable, but remember, a portion of therapy is increasing self-awareness and insight into how you operate. What’s wrong with helping yourself be calmer, less stressed, more self aware, more grounded, more compassionate, more grateful, more resilient?
2. People will judge me
This is a real thought, but lets be honest here, “People” are gonna judge you regardless!! I encourage you to take a few deep breaths and really asked yourself if there may be an element of internal fear that makes you avoidant of speaking to someone about what your experiences are/were and how those experiences contribute to your wellbeing.
3. Counseling is for people with money
False! I recognize that not everyone can afford insurance, but you can contact a local network of therapists/counselors and find out if they have sliding fee scales or know someone who does. I provide several clients per year with low rate fees to support them in making changes. Not because I’m awesome (hehehe) but simply because sometimes it is the right thing to do in certain situations and I am into creating positive energy in the world.
Many insurance companies provide Health Savings Account (HSA) that you can contribute to. You then can use your HSA to pay “out of pocket” for therapy sessions. Many therapist will offer a lower rate for clients paying “out of pocket”. *Remember you can engage in treatment at the frequency rate you like, so if one visit per month is all you can afford, that is a better option than no therapeutic support at all.
Lastly, if you are employed, many employers offer Employee Assistance Programs (EAP). EAPs provide a set amount of session for individuals and I have been fairly successful at getting clients up to 12 sessions. Speak with your HR department about your company’s EAP policies.
4. I have to have a mental health diagnosis to see a therapist
If you are in the position to pay out of pocket, your counselor will not have to submit billing to MCO’s. This way you do not have to be “diagnosed” with a mental health diagnosis to have services provided. In Lawrence and Overland Park, KS where I practice, I provide an invocie of services that clients can provide to their insurance provider to recoup some of the funds you provide for services. This also relates to #3 in regards to paying out of pocket and recouping funds.
Let me keep it totally real with you readers right now, I doubt it very seriously if your insurance provider is going to repay 100% of funds you paid for therapeutic services, that would just be toooo easy, hahahaha!!!
5. I don’t have time in my schedule to meet with a counselor
I call BS!!!!! Do you have time to eat? Do you have time to work out? Do you have time to engage in happy hour? Essentially, we make time for what is important to us. If you are important to you and recognize that having a place to process vulnerabilities would be beneficial for you, then make that move!!!
6. I’m just going through a tough time in my life, I’ll be fine
That is a fair enough thought, I respect your resilience and your ability to deal with adversity. Now let me retort (Pulp Fiction, is in my top 5 movies off all time) How often are you “going through a touch time”? A few times a year? Monthly? Weekly? Daily? What happens when you have a tough time? What are your go to coping mechanisms when you have a tough time? Coping mechanisms can be adaptive (meditation, exercise) or maladaptive (drinking, risky sexual behaviors)
If the frequency and intensity of your tough time continues to increase, I would encourage you to maybe brainstorm with an objective, compassionate professional aka, a counselor about what could be driving these tough times in your life.
7. I won’t understand all that therapy jargon
A fairly decient therapist is going to be able to communicate to you in a way that engages you in conversation at a level you understand. I would also encourage you to understand that it is normal for psycho-education to occur in the therapeutic setting. You may need to learn terms like: self-actualization, differentiation, attachment theory and thought distortions to support you in understanding what may be contributing to negative energy in your life.
8. Reading a self help book is just as good as seeing a therapist
False! Hey reading and self improvement is awesome, I am not knocking your efforts. Three points I would like to make, to the contrary:
- Reading a self-help book is left to the interpretation of the reader, the reader (you) is going to consume the information through your own lens, which means it will be biased. A challenge you may have is that the bias may come in the form of minimizing, denial, or justification of your negative thoughts, emotions and behaviors.
- Words have power!!! Hearing yourself speak words of vulnerabilities is a powerful moment and often times people feel a sense of relief from no longer holding that negative energy.
- A Counselor also is an “accountability buddy” I often give my clients small assignments to focus on over the week and follow up with them about their assignments at their next visit.
9. Since I take meds, I don’t need to see a counselor too
Not the case!!! Research shows that a combination of psychotropic medication and talk therapy have the best outcomes for change in clients. Do not be fooled by all the commercials!!! Consider your diet, could you eat better? Maybe consume a little less alcohol? I understand that sometimes folks are struggling with such intense symptoms of depression that they cannot just hop out of bed and hit the gym, or go for a hike but if you are capable of exercise GET AFTER IT!!! If you are not at a place mentally, where you can be active, practice self-compassion and attempt some mindfulness exercises (stay tuned to the website for a blog about mindfulness exercises!!!) . I included a link below for more information about medication management and talk therapy as combined treatment.