It is difficult to imagine going to counselling before making that first step. While we are starting to become more understanding about mental health issues and seeking professional help, there is still a lot of fear, doubt and confusion creating barriers to counselling.
Through exploring some of the most common misconceptions and barriers to counselling, I hope to offer a sense of hope to anyone who is considering seeking help.
Barriers to counselling: is it just me?
It is important to realise that having fears about counselling is completely normal – almost everyone will experience this to some degree. We all want to protect ourselves at all costs, and so this makes it difficult to be vulnerable or ask others for help.
But the more we build these walls around us, the less we can grow and make changes. When we start to look at counselling as an opportunity to create change in our lives, we realise how much strength there is in being vulnerable.
Where do I even begin?
The process of counselling can seem confusing. With so many different approaches and counsellors available, it is difficult to know how to get started. But there is good news.
Research suggests that while the type of therapy you do is important, more critical is having a positive relationship with your counsellor. So instead of worrying too much about which school of counselling you go for, try instead to find an accredited counsellor/centre so you know you are getting the best support.
Visit our website for more information about counselling with The Spark or freephone 0808 802 2088.
What will other people think about me going to counselling?
Sometimes we feel ashamed to ask for help, as we think it means something must be ‘wrong’ with us. The belief that counselling is only for weak or broken people is simply not true. It takes emotional strength and courage to engage in the counselling process.
When we have a sore leg, we go to our GP for help. In the same way, emotional pain deserves attention and healing.
Other people need counselling more than I do
Many people avoid counselling because they feel their situation is not ‘bad enough’. While there will probably always be someone whose situation is even worse than yours, it does not mean you are any less worthy of help.
Counsellors are there to support you through any issue – it is time to abandon the idea that we need to reach breaking point before we can speak to a professional.
Things won’t ever change
The possibility of a better future can seem unobtainable when we are going through a difficult time. While this stuck-ness can be used as a reason not to go to counselling, it actually shows why speaking to a counsellor can be so important.
No one will ever expect you to have a perfectly crafted plan for your future; this is what the process of counselling is for. Through focussing on what is going on for you, exploring possible goals and preferred outcomes, counsellors work with you to find hope and strategies for change.
I can’t make the commitment
There are also practical worries about counselling. Time is valuable, and it can be difficult to consider getting help when money is an issue.
At The Spark, we recognise the need for short-term, goal-oriented counselling and offer a service that can help clients progress in just 6 sessions. Furthermore, we can help you access reduced-cost or even free counselling in certain circumstances.
Counselling services from The Spark
The Spark continues to provide telephone and online video counselling services during the Covid-19 pandemic in Scotland.
Sara O'Dowd MA, MSc, MBPsS
Research Co-ordinator - The Spark
Sara is a member of the British Psychological Society (BPS). After completing a Masters in Clinical Health Psychology, she joined The Spark as research co-ordinator. Sara is currently completing a Diploma in Relational Counselling, specialising in working with children and young people. Sara’s research interests include the relationship between physical and mental health, the impact of communication and addressing mental health problems in children and young people.