"I'm not afraid of storms, for I'm
learning how to sail my ship."
Louisa May Alcott, author
"I'm afraid of having to remember very painful experiences."
One of the most common fears toward therapy is the idea of having to relive past traumas. Most modern-day psychotherapy approaches, however, have veered from focus on the past to examination of the "here and now." It's possible to alleviate pain from the past and to alter repetitive, negative life patterns without detailed discussion of trauma issues.
In my personal approach as a counselor, I encourage you to tell me when you are not comfortable exploring a certain area directly, and will work with you in finding an avenue that still creates positive change. The most important confrontation to be achieved, rather than confronting the past or past people, is the confrontation of who you are verses who you want to be.
"I'm concerned about the stigma attached to being in therapy. People might think I'm 'crazy' or weak."
It turns out that stigmas created by not receiving help for unhealthy behavior far overshadow any remaining modern-day stigma associated with participating in mental health therapy. Over the past decade, not only has psychotherapy become increasingly recognized and highly recommended among all facets of the media, more and more well-known and well-respected individuals are sharing their personal experiences in seeking help for life struggles, from politicians, to actors, to scientists, to activists. Regarding any stigma that may remain within your personal circle of peers, the fact is that you are the most important thing in your own life...not the opinions of others.
"It may affect my job or other professional relationships if people know I'm seeing a therapist."
Because every facet of your participation in counseling is kept confidential by law, it will be your choice who in your life knows about your decision to enter therapy. Also, many workplaces and universities have Human Resource Departments or Employee Assistance Networks (EAN) that can help you coordinate your health needs with your work schedule, these also being bound by privacy laws. However, I have frankly been amazed by how receptive others are when my clients openly disclose that they are seeking counseling for a life problem. I have countless stories, for example, of employers not only offering genuine support, but also disclosing in return about their own experience or the experience of loved ones in therapy. What tends to concern people most is when they suspect you are having problems and are doing nothing to improve them.
"How will this be different from negative experiences I've had with therapy in the past?"
There are a number of reasons for ineffective or negative therapy experiences, either with a type of therapy or a therapist. These range from your own attitude, to use of counseling techniques that did not fit your needs, to contact with a therapist who, him or herself, is not a healthy participant in the therapeutic relationship. I invite you to talk about such experiences from the beginning, to question me about your concerns, and to work with me regarding ideas on how to achieve a more positive, new therapy experience.
Jennifer Daigle is a licensed counselor offering psychotherapy for individuals, couples therapy, and marriage counseling in a
lovely private practice setting in the heart of Asheville, NC. Call today to schedule your first appointment: 828-225-3040