Starting therapy can be exciting and unsettling and many people avoid it all together. But why? The purpose of therapy is essentially to learn more about yourself, an attempt to face the past where healing is warranted, learn new coping skills, and gain confidence, amongst other benefits. So why the avoidance to begin? I became intrigued and asked colleagues, friends, family, and the general public for their input. Below I have compiled a list of the most common reasons that continued to come up throughout my inquiry into this subject. Do any ring true for you?
Change is scary for most of us; we are creatures of habit and tend to feel safe within structure and routine, and if we introduce change, it most likely will disrupt our comfort zone.
We’ve heard it before – you can’t grow in your comfort zone. Healing can be uncomfortable so it may feel easier to ignore it and think “we’ll get to it on another day” (this is the denial/avoidance speaking).
We may also have the tendency to minimize our pain/issues thinking “it’s not that bad”, or think that others may have it worse off than we do, so we avoid it by “sweeping it under the rug” until it gets to a point where the issue is unavoidable and affects most areas of your life. We may also have a tendency to solve issues and fix problems on our own that it can hinder our ability to seek external help. For example, the ‘check engine’ sign appears in my car and I have been procrastinating on dealing with it. The issue tends to get worse with time and avoidance that eventually it manifests into other issues. I may watch a few YouTube or DIY videos to try to solve it myself, however eventually I will have to bring my vehicle to get professional help at the mechanics.
Once we are ready to acknowledge and accept that we cannot do everything ourselves and that professional help is the next logical step, that is when we take our blinders off, face the music, and healing can begin. Contact me if you can relate so I can assist you to better understand yourself and provide you with the resources and skills to help you tackle whatever life throws your way.
The shame and stigma associated with seeking therapy is often a factor in whether professional support is actually attained or not. Though society has come a long way to attempt to destigmatize mental health and addiction, we still have more work to do! Therapy is self-care and should be seen as a part of your self-care plan. Whether you go to the gym, get a pedicure/manicure, see your therapist, read a book, or see your doctor for a follow-up, etc. If you’re thinking about getting a therapist, it’s already a good sign that you are ready and open to take the leap to change and heal.
3. Cost + Access
Psychotherapy and counselling is an investment for your overall health and the cost associated with psychotherapy has prevented many people from actually calling to arrange an appointment. I like to use the word ‘investment’ because that is exactly what it is – you are putting in money into your own healing. Some time-limited therapy services are offered that are government funded (OHIP) in some agencies and hospitals, however it would require referrals from your family physician and include lengthy waitlists.
The cost between psychotherapy providers can vary depending on their qualifications and specialties. Some therapists offer a sliding scale where they have the option of lowering their hourly rate depending on the demonstrated need (ie. low income, unemployed, student, etc.). Other therapists may also offer insurance benefits coverage. Psychotherapy is also tax deductible on your annual taxes.
My services, as a registered psychotherapist, are covered by most insurance companies. It is your responsibility to check with your insurance provider to clarify if my services are covered by your benefits plan. Keep in mind that therapy may be a long-term investment. Think of it this way, if your issue/concern has been something that you have been struggling with for a long time, it may be unrealistic that it will be resolved quickly. Healing takes time and is very much possible. Slow and steady wins the race.
4. Where do I even find a therapist?
You may find a therapist via word-of-mouth from family/friends, recommendations from your family doctor, Google, or searching on a site such as Psychology Today. It is encouraged for you to do some homework to search for a suitable therapist that you think you might connect with. The therapeutic-client relationship is an important factor in fostering rapport, trust, and healing.
I like to compare searching for a therapist with the idea of dating; usually, we do not marry the first person we have a crush on or date. We keep trying and ‘dating’ until we have found the right one. Similarly to therapy, do not get discouraged if you have tried therapy in the past and it didn’t work for you at that time. Give it another try and I am sure that you will find a therapist who is the right fit for you.
5. Resistance to try telehealth
The Covid-19 pandemic has definitely changed the world, especially the way we access resources and community. Therapy is an essential service and some therapists continue to offer in-person therapy at their offices during the pandemic, depending on client needs and cleaning precautions. Telehealth is a very convenient tool that you can access almost anywhere. No more commuting, sitting in traffic or paying for parking in order to attend your appointment! Yay!
Fostering a sense of connection with your therapist is very much possible virtually, even if you’re sitting on your couch with a hair mask on. It is also helpful that many therapists offer a late schedule or weekend hours so that it may accommodate your childcare needs (you may be in your basement attending your virtual appointment while your children are cared for upstairs).
6. Fear of being vulnerable/trust
Vulnerability is scary! Letting down your guard/ego and speaking from the heart can be difficult for many people. We wear our masks of bravery trying to impose on others (and ourselves) that we are strong, and not weak in an attempt to control how we are perceived. Being strong 24/7 is unsustainable until we break down. Know that asking for help is strong and brave. Let go of everything that you have been carrying with you for albeit a long time and I assure you, you will feel a relief, like a weight off your shoulder. Taking the risk to be vulnerable establishes trust in others and more importantly, in yourself.
7. Too busy
Why is it that we struggle with making ourselves a priority?! We have long to-do lists and sometimes we don’t even make the cut! We have one life. Let’s start living authentically and be present. Making yourself a priority will help you help others. It’s like they say, “you can’t pour from an empty cup” and “put on your air mask on first before you help others”. Put yourself on a pedestal, don’t rely on others to do that for you and see how much your life improves.
Sometimes progress and self-improvement is halted by our self-sabotaging behaviours. Again, we tend to dislike change… it’s an uncomfortable process like morphing from a caterpillar into a butterfly. Counselling helps people help themselves and starting therapy can be the beginning of a new and exciting journey. The more insight you gain about yourself and your capabilities to solve stressors effectively, the more improved your quality of life can be. Give it a try. What’s the worst that can happen? Contact me today if you are interested in starting therapy.