Barriers to Seeking Help through Counseling

There are many factors that influence whether we seek the help of a counselor with our problems or concerns. Often we may feel that the problem we’re facing isn’t appropriate for counseling in some way. We may fear that seeking help is a statement about our character or an inability to use the resources we already have with friends or family. We may feel that going outside of our family to get help is losing face. Or we may feel we are supposed to “tough it out”. Perhaps you are considering seeking the help of a counselor.

Many of the expected challenges in life may cause us to seek help. Below are just a few of the issues that clients bring to counseling:

  • committing to and sustaining relationships
  • becoming a parent
  • dealing with infertility
  • losing someone we love through death
  • loss of a beloved pet
  • career changes
  • parenting issues
  • job loss
  • infidelity
  • caring for an elderly parent
  • caring for a partner or child who has fallen ill or is disabled

Gender role differences can influence the way we view seeking help from others.  Typically men may face feelings of weakness when asking for help due to society’s socializing males to be strong, resilient, and self sufficient.

Sometimes there may be concerns about how the counselor will treat you, or what their perception of you might be.  Perhaps you’re fearful of somehow being coerced by the counselor or forced to deal with difficult emotions.  We may fear experiencing our feelings.  If seeking outside help is not familiar to us and if friends and family discourage seeking outside help, we may not see counseling as an option for resolving our problems.  We may wonder how our friends and family would see us if they knew we were seeking the help of a counselor.

Knowing some things ahead of time about the counseling process may help to address some of your concerns.

  • Know that many people just like you have sought help through counseling.  Often clients share with me their feelings that if they had known how this process would go, they would have sought help earlier.
  • The counseling relationship differs from the type of relationship we have with friends and family.  Counseling entails client and counselor working collaboratively for the benefit of the client.
  • The counselor role includes providing support for the client without judgment.  I seek to provide a warm caring environment where I look to you as the client to guide me in assisting you.
  • I understand that often clients need to build trust with me first to allow disclosure of important feelings and thoughts.  For this reason I look to clients to set the pace of the session as they feel comfortable.
  • When clients come in for their initial session I encourage them to assess the fit with the counselor as this is an important factor in the success of therapy.  At the conclusion of the first visit clients can schedule additional visits if they desire, but they are under no obligation to do so.
  • Counseling can sometimes involve discussion of emotionally powerful memories and events.  The counselor can often be helpful in assisting you with difficult emotions through support, acceptance, and helping you gain insight about yourself.  Again, client’s wishes are respected as to the pace of the therapy.

Concerns about how others may perceive your seeking help through counseling are often very important.  You may want to carefully consider with whom you want to share your seeking outside help.  As with most personal matters, you decide who to confide in.  Privacy is of the utmost importance and you can be assured that your visits are private and confidential.  The exceptions to privacy, and there are a few, are carefully explained on the counseling Disclosure form (See Online Forms).  If you have questions about the exceptions we can discuss these.

In making your decision to contact a counselor you may be considering the potential risks and benefits of doing so.  I hope that the information you’ve read here is helpful to you in making the best decision for you.  As a counselor I view seeking outside consultation on important personal matters as courageous.  I am continually amazed by my client’s intelligence, strength, and resilience, and feel honored that they’ve entrusted me with their care.  


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