According to an article that came out in Forbes magazine early in 2021, nearly half of the 2000 respondents of a OnePoll research study said that seeking therapy was a sign of weakness. The stigma around mental illness and needing help for issues like depression still exists. Yet others swear by their therapists.
What side of the fence do you fall on regarding therapy? If you find yourself curious about therapy, we asked therapists and mental health experts to share the most common objections to therapy and their responses.
I don’t think I have a problem, or my problem isn’t big enough
“Therapy isn’t for people with “problems”; it’s for people seeking growth. We can all benefit from growth, whether it’s increasing self-confidence, learning to communicate more effectively, or navigating a new life stage. Therapy teaches you to capitalize on your strengths.”
–Heidi J. Dalzell, PsyD, Licensed Psychologist, Eating Disorder Coach and Author
I went to a therapist once and it didn’t work.
“Keep trying. So much of therapy involves the relationship between client and therapist, and if the person you saw wasn’t a fit (which is usually the case when it doesn’t work), find someone who is.
The key is going in with clear goals of what you want to accomplish. While the initial stages of therapy involve some rapport-building, you should also get the sense that this is in the service of helping you achieve your goals. If it doesn’t seem that way, schedule with someone else.”
People tell me I just need to pray more
“Prayer can be an excellent form of self-care. But, at the same time, prayer alone cannot provide the person-to-person support or evidence-based interventions that a therapist can provide.”
–Sarah Kelly, LCSW and psychotherapist
My friends/family will make fun of me if they know I’m seeing a therapist
“It is valid to have curiosity about how others may perceive you if they learn that you are seeking support from a therapist. However, I would challenge that curiosity and ask what evidence you have that a person will make fun of you if they learn this about you. Also, I would ask someone to reflect on why they are in a relationship with someone who is shaming them for engaging in self-care.”
I’ll just talk to my friends or family about my problems
“Please do talk with friends and family. Then seek a supportive and more objective therapy space. Unless you are besties with a skilled therapist, and maybe even then, find someone who works with the kinds of things you are seeking support on. You’ll be more open and disclosing, and not feel you need to protect anyone.”
Therapists are only for women
“Therapists are for women, and men, genderqueer and non-binary folks. That myth is an oldie but goodie, and it’s helpful that people of all genders and identities speak more freely about how they have grown due to counseling. In looking at men specifically, it’s time to ditch the rules of toxic masculinity. Therapy is a great place to try on what may be new behaviors, such as allowing yourself to express emotions.”
I’m afraid of failing
“While we set goals in therapy, therapy is not a pass/fail activity. If a goal is not achieved, it is an excellent opportunity to reflect on what barriers and challenges may have influenced your ability to achieve a goal.”
I’m scared they will ask about my shameful past
“Your therapist will ask about your past experiences, but you get to decide how you want to share them with them. Being open about shame is the first step toward healing. Your therapist is not there to judge you; they are there to support you.”
I don’t like the idea of being vulnerable to a stranger
“The therapy process requires some vulnerability, but people often find it easier to open up to someone who is completely objective and non-judgmental. Chances are a seasoned therapist has heard the very thing that you are afraid of sharing, and many times. As psychologist Brene Brown says, ‘Vulnerability is not weakness; it’s our greatest measure of courage.'”
I can’t afford a therapist
“Finding an affordable therapist can be challenging but is often not impossible. Many therapists are covered by insurance and/or have a sliding scale that they can utilize to support your financial needs. Also, think of therapy as an investment in yourself. Paying for therapy can be similar to paying for a gym membership. While it is a cost, it will pay off if used well.”
According to John Hopkins Medicine, 26% of Americans 18 and older have a diagnosable mental illness in a given year. If you are hanging out with three friends, that means one of you is probably suffering from a disturbed mind of some sort. If any of the objections above have been an excuse not to seek help, please get out of your own way and get help. You are worth it.