9 Misconceptions About Seeking Professional Counseling

We often hear a common concern…

"I’m afraid to see a professional counselor."

Have you had this thought as well? Do you feel you may benefit from seeing a counselor, but face fears about scheduling an appointment?

Perhaps you have convinced yourself of many reasons why you shouldn’t go to counseling. A lot of these reasons may be seemingly understandable. However, more than likely, they are common misconceptions rooted in fear.

Today I want to address some of those myths because I see such value in talking to a counselor on an ongoing basis.

I can talk to someone for 4 minutes on my radio show and our HopeCoaches can chat a bit longer on TheHopeLine. This gives us enough time to point someone in the right direction, to love on them and to give them hope. But many times, that guidance includes encouraging someone to seek ongoing counseling, especially for those deeper issues.

Listen to my live call with Elizabeth whose parents sent her to therapy after she attempted suicide. She lied to get out of it. Now, she's struggling with suicidal thoughts again and wants to know what to do. Elizabeth needs to go back to therapy with an open mind and an open heart to find the help she needs

If you have considered seeing a professional counselor, but have talked yourself out of it because of unwarranted fears, I hope this information will help you become more comfortable in seeking the help that you need.

One of our partner organizations is Centerstone. They are one of the nation’s largest not-for-profit providers of community-based behavioral health care. Below they share a list of common misconceptions about treatment that we are in turn sharing with you:

Common Misconceptions About Treatment:

1. If I need help, something must be wrong with me. I must be broken or abnormal.

Just like with physical illness, mental illness and addiction are medical problems. You wouldn’t say that someone who has cancer or the flu is broken. They need treatment just like someone with a mental illness or addiction.

2. No one will understand my problem. I don’t deserve help. 

One in four American adults will experience a mental illness in their lifetime. That’s 25% of the population. There are many people who know what you are going through. You deserve to feel healthy and whole.

3. If I come in for an appointment, they will take me away.

Involuntary commitment is extremely rare, particularly at first appointments. Just like a physician’s office, there are occasionally people who need to be taken to the ER. But most folks just go in for their regular treatment.

4. They’ll put me on pills that will put me in a fog, and I’ll never be able to stop taking them.

As with physical illnesses, some mental health disorders will require short- or long-term medication regimens. It can be an important part of treatment, but it should never make you feel like you’re not yourself or in control. You have a say in these treatments.

5. If I just try harder, I won’t need treatment.

Mental health and substance abuse treatment is for people who have an illness that deserves treatment, just as much as any other illness. It can’t be cured by trying harder or ignoring the problem.

6. People will think less of me if I go to a therapist. 

Thankfully, we are at a point in time where a lot of people are speaking out about their mental illness and a lot is being done to combat the stigma surrounding it. And while you may be encouraged to talk to your loved ones and community members about your illness, a counselor respects their clients’ privacy. They will never reveal you receive treatment without your express permission. In fact, they can’t; it’s the law!

7. Therapy is just a lot of talking; I can get the help I need from my friends.

While a strong support system of friends and family is very important, there are things that we can help you with that your loved ones might not be able to. Our clinicians have extensive training and experience so they know all the tricky ways that your mental illness can trip you up and how to overcome your hurdles.

8. If I get treatment, I’ll have to keep going forever.

A counselor’s goal is always to get you back into your community as quickly as possible. While some patients may need long-term treatment, many individuals just need a few weeks or months to deal with their problem.

9. I can’t afford it.

Most insurance providers will cover some form of mental health treatment; it may be less expensive than you think. For those without insurance or those whose insurance doesn’t cover mental health treatment, you should inquire about programs set up to help provide funds to those who need assistance.

Live Your Best Life

If you are struggling with a serious issue such as depression, anxiety, PTSD, suicidal thoughts, eating disorders, self-harm and many more, please love yourself enough to consider the option of counseling. Don’t dismiss the idea because of one of these misconceptions listed above. You do deserve to live your best life and you can achieve it.  Sometimes we all just need a little help.

Dawson McAllister
Dawson McAllister, also known as America's youth pastor, was an author, radio host, speaker, and founder of TheHopeLine. McAllister attended Bethel College in Minnesota for undergraduate work where he graduated in 1968, began graduate studies at Talbot School of Theology in California, and received an honorary doctorate from Biola University.
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One comment on “9 Misconceptions About Seeking Professional Counseling”

  1. I'm finished if he doesn't hear from me He saids you found a new boyfriend . I confronted him Sat he was hot . I have to many things I'm working on . I donot have time to go backwards. I like him and I will miss him . But he hurt me Time will heal I ready for the ride .
    Thank you for your time listening to me .

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