Overcoming the Stigma of Seeking Counseling
When faced with difficult situations or stressful times in our lives, it’s quite common to try to bury our thoughts and emotions, to focus on something else rather than face the issue that’s driving us. It’s in these moments as well as many others when counseling is a wonderful way to cope with your thoughts, have a conversation about how to handle trigger situations, and learn skills to lead a happier and mentally, emotionally healthier life.
Unfortunately, the cultural stigmas that society has placed on seeking therapy hold many people back from getting the help they need. Common stereotypes—such as the person being “weak,” in a “bad place,” or not having a healthy network of people to talk to—perpetuate the idea that seeking counseling should remain a “hush-hush” affair.
However, this shouldn’t be the case. Although society has made great strides in the last few years to release therapy from the stronghold that stigmatizes it as an abnormal action, there are still improvements to be made.
Luckily, there are plenty of ways that you can overcome these cultural stigmas and feel confident in your decision to start that conversation with a therapist.
Change the Way You Look at Counseling, and You Will Overcome the Stigmas
If you feel ashamed about your choice to attend counseling, others will wonder if it’s something to be ashamed of, which perpetuates the stigma as well as other’s misconceptions. Although it’s much easier said than done, simply choose to view therapy as a positive, healthy choice in your life (because it certainly is!). If a single person can overcome the stereotypes and stigmas, then maybe they can help someone do the same.
Talk about It
Studies have shown that speaking about counseling and mental health services actually reduces the stigma associated with the action. These studies also suggest that “face-to-face contact [is] the most effective method.” The most significant thing about these findings is that it’s a confirmation that you’re not alone in wanting to speak with a therapist.
Realize that You’re Not Alone
Many people who do seek counseling keep their appointments and realizations on the down-low. You certainly shouldn’t feel pressured to share the details of your sessions, but by sharing that you do attend therapy, (if you think a friend might need to hear it), you could be helping someone else make that first appointment.
There’s Absolutely Nothing Wrong with You
So many of these cultural stigmas about therapy claim that there’s “something wrong” with the person who decides to seek help. They’re “crazy” or “weak” or whatever else society claims is “not right” with them. These are all entirely false. In fact, a 2013 study found that “stereotypes about mental illnesses are large contributors to the stigma that surrounds seeking help.” Whether you need help to cope with a mental illness or just need to speak with someone about a tough situation you’re currently facing, realize that there’s nothing wrong with you. Recognize that you love yourself enough to know you need help and seek it.
Please let me know if you have any questions. I’d love to help you