Why don’t people go to therapy?
We go to the dentist every six months for cleanings and check-ups. We go to the doctor when we are sick. We get our hair cut or our nails done as needed, or as desired to feel and look our best. We get a massage or go to the chiropractor when we are in pain. But why do so many people avoid addressing the mental or emotional needs? Why don’t people go to therapy?
After working in the mental health field for many years I can say that taking the leap and reaching out for help is the hardest part. There are many reasons that people either don’t reach out or they take a long time to finally take that leap.
I have heard many people say that they would rather talk to their friends instead of a stranger. It is so important to have someone to talk to. You should talk to your family and friends and utilize your support system. But friendship is not psychotherapy. In a therapeutic relationship you are getting support and being challenged to take a deeper look at your life, your emotions and your motivations. Through therapy you gain valuable insight into yourself and the source of your problems. Not only are therapists trained listeners, but they are also trained to work alongside you as you address those problems. Remember that therapy is confidential, too. Sometimes we can’t guarantee that with friends or family.
People have also shared that they can take care of mental health issues by visiting their doctor. Yes, if necessary, your doctor can provide medication to address a diagnosed mental health issue, and they can also help you rule out any medical condition that may be contributing to your mental health. But medical doctors are not trained therapists. Therapists will listen, provide feedback, help you identify healthy coping strategies and work empathically to help you find joy in life and in your relationships.
I have also heard people say that they went to a counselor once and it just didn’t work. I always say that every therapist has a different style and approach to their work. Just because it wasn’t a good fit the first time doesn’t mean it wont work out if you try someone else. Our personal perspectives and circumstances change with time. Sometimes we are more ready for therapy than we may have been in the past.
Another excuse is time and money. For any real change you want to make, it will also take real resources. Time does not just appear; you must make the time. Making time to address your mental and emotional needs will save you time. Consider all the time spent being unhappy, time spent fighting, scared or unsure. Taking the leap means more control over your time in the long run. It’s true that therapy can sometimes be costly as well, even with insurance, but consider it an investment in yourself, in your relationships, in your well-being. You are worth it.
So, what’s holding you back from taking the leap?
Nicole Ball is a social work professor at Ferris State University, a clinical mental health therapist and owner of Mental Wellness Counseling, a holistic mental health center in Traverse City. Learn more about at www.mentalwellnesscounseling.com.