Reasons Why People Avoid Therapy – Part 1
Many people delay seeking therapy, often expressing a variety of reasons to avoid it, postpone it, not even give it serious consideration. It is often a big, difficult decision, prompted by serious struggles and pain, and some encouragement, support (perhaps nagging?) by significant others in the person’s life. Below are some of the frequent reasons people express about not giving therapy a try (or returning to therapy for another round of help) (https://lakeorioncc/2016/10/10-reasons-people-avoid-seeking-counseling/ ):
- “Getting help is one sign of weakness.”
People may expect that life’s problems “should” be handled on their own, individually, without outside help, especially help outside of the family. “We don’t tell outsiders about our family’s business.” Nothing could be further from the truth. It takes courage to seek help, acknowledge that efforts to cope are not working very well, and to reveal oneself to a professional caregiver. The more genuinely strong person knows when, and acknowledges the time that help is needed.
- “Therapy is for crazy people. I’m not crazy!”
Actually, therapy is helpful for people who feel stuck at some point in their life. Some challenge seems to have them paralyzed and overwhelmed, not able to move forward as they would like. Skilled therapy provides a non-judgmental interaction and situation in which clients are not identified as “crazy”, “sick”, or “ill”, but are helped to move through the sticking point in their life path. (See my “therapist profile” for a fuller discussion of this.)
- “If someone finds out that I’m in therapy, others will know my private concerns.”
Absolutely not at all. Legal and ethical guidelines for therapists are very clear: a client’s privacy must be protected. Without written, formal permission, no information can be shared with anyone. There is basically one exception to this ironclad rule: if there is immediate physical danger to an individual, then the therapist is responsible to take steps to protect someone’s safety. These steps may compromise confidentiality in order to keep someone safe from an immediate life-threatening danger. The only other possible exception is if there is a legal process involving the client and the therapist receives a subpoena requesting information; even then, steps can be taken to protect privacy at least to some extent. So, in almost all situations, a client’s privacy is protected.
- “What would I discuss in therapy? I have no idea what to talk about.”
A skilled, experienced therapist, who does care about the client’s well-being, knows what to ask about. An opening statement will get the process moving forward, such as “I’m so unhappy in my marriage/relationship.”, or, “My work life is full of problems.”, or, “School is turning out to be one big failure.” Being listened to with such care, attention, and empathy helps open up a meaningful dialogue, often rather quickly.
- “Therapy is too expensive. It’s not affordable in my budget.”
Members of IPN make every effort to be flexible with fees as much as possible. Often insurance coverage helps with the bulk of the fee, so that a small co-payment is all that is needed. Or a therapist will work on a “sliding scale” to find a workable fee. Or, community resources can be found to offer very low-cost therapy. Often, a limited number of sessions (what is called short-term therapy) can provide some meaningful relief and help, so that a big financial commitment and a long course of therapy are not necessary. All of this can be discussed and worked out in the early sessions.
See Part 2 in the next blog for more reasons that people struggle with seeking help.
Alan M. Solomon, Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist in private practice in Torrance, CA. A member of the Independent Psychotherapy Network, he can be reached at 310 539-2772, or firstname.lastname@example.org
Copyright 2018 by Alan M. Solomon, Ph.D.