Common Concerns About Counseling


"When should I seek counseling?"

The decision to begin counseling can be very difficult. People are sometimes intimidated by the process or view counseling as unnecessary, opting to attempt to deal with their problems on their own. While people can solve most of their problems on their own, some issues are more complex and a trained professional can provide the additional insight needed to work through a problem. Consider seeking counseling if a problem persists for an extended period of time, keeps re-occurring as a pattern, or is affecting your professional or personal life in a negative or destructive way.

"Isn't counseling a sign of weakness? People should be able to solve their own problems."

Rather than a sign of weakness, engaging in counseling is a sign of strength, courage and determination. By coming to a counselor you are displaying the strength and courage to face your issues and work through them. Seeking help signals that you are determined to have a better life.

"If I go to counseling, aren't I admitting there is something wrong with me? Only "crazy" people need  counseling."

People who come to counseling are far from "crazy". They are people just like you who may be stuck, unfulfilled, or facing life issues that feel overwhelming. Some clients do have diagnosed psychiatric disorders, but most of my clients are simply trying to make their way through obstacles that are keeping them from a happier life. Rather than something "wrong" with you, you are admitting there is something "right" with you that makes you want to resolve difficulties in your life.

"How can I tell my counselor the truth about me? Won't he judge me or think badly of me?

It is common to worry about judgment when telling others about yourself and it may take a while for you to build up trust in me or any therapist. We counselors are generally patient people and will be there when you are ready to open up and talk about those things that are most difficult for you. Personally, I will always treat my clients with respect, compassion and understanding. I will not be be critical or judgmental of you or the choices that you've made.

"Is it really necessary to dredge up the past? Why can't I just work on the issues facing me today"

Past experiences are one of the factors that make us who we are today. It is often helpful to revisit these times because much insight can be gained. Looking back at how you were treated, what messages you may have gotten about yourself, what significant events occurred and how you were affected by them, helps with understanding how you may be reacting to situations and people today. Experiencing stronger than usual emotions with certain people or in certain situations may be partly due to what is actually happening in the present, and partly due to leftover or unresolved issues from the past. We develop many of our beliefs about ourselves, other people and the way the world operates very early in life. So while we probably won't spend the entire counseling process working with past issues, it is usually a good idea to explore certain aspects of your past in order to be able to resolve current problems.

"I thought counseling was supposed to make me feel better. Why am I feeling worse?"

In the long run counseling will help you feel better, but it may not happen right away. Facing and opening up about personal and sometimes painful issues and feelings can make you feel vulnerable and uncomfortable. Making positive changes for yourself may "upset the apple cart" with others and cause friction in relationships for a time. Yes, there may be a period of feeling worse before it gets better, but it will be worth it.