If you’ve ever experienced the benefits of counseling, you’ve probably wished at some point the people in your life would start their own counseling journey so they could experience the benefits, too.

I strongly believe counseling is for everyone (and I mean everyone). But there can be a lot of mental and cultural barriers (in some cases, plain old excuses?) to sending that first email or making that first call.

I’ve come up with a list of some statements I’ve heard either floating around in our culture, or through attitudes clients have expressed. While they’re not all necessarily misconceptions, they are all barriers–real or perceived–that can keep people from experiencing the growth and healing they need to enjoy life as a better, healthier version of themselves.

#1. “Counseling is for crazy people.”

  • Thanks to mental health awareness, this mostly-unspoken but unhelpful stereotype is steadily dying off. While we’re less likely to judge others for seeing a counselor, though, there’s still a lingering fear about what it would say about us if we were willing to seek help from someone we’ve never met. But the truth is seeking counseling just means you’re a human being who wants to be a happier, healthier, all-around better version of themselves. Far from “crazy,” this is courageous and wise, and I admire each one of my clients for this reason.

#2. “I need to know what to talk about (and I don’t).”

  • If you think about it, this is kind of like saying you need to know what’s going on with your body before you go to the doctor. Yes, it’s helpful to have a starting point (such as symptoms you’re experiencing) and be open to the process (such as questions a counselor might ask); we can’t actually read your mind, of course! But the counselor-client relationship is collaborative, meaning it’s not all up to you. I would encourage any person with this belief to trust the counseling process and the professional they’ve chosen to work with. Besides, I have found that no matter what a client presents or what we start off talking about, the conversation almost always goes exactly where it needs to go.

#3. “I don’t need counseling–I can talk to my friends.”

  • This comes from a misunderstanding of the counselor’s unique role and professional presence in a person’s life. A counselor and a friend play distinct roles–and your friend, while she may love you, is a biased non-professional. A counselor’s role is entirely different from anyone else in your life. We’re trained professionals who can see and connect dots in a clinical way, without any of the bias that comes from being a part of your personal world. 

#4. “I don’t need counseling–I have meds.”

  • While medication may be able to increase daily functioning while decreasing short-term suffering, it can never address the root of an issue like counseling has the ability to do. Many studies have shown that the combination of therapy and medication is more effective than medication alone.

#5. “I don’t need counseling because I’m not in crisis.”

  • This comes from a belief that counseling is only for emotional “emergencies.” While counseling is certainly beneficial during particular difficult times and some people do use it this way, this approach significantly limits the benefits of counseling that can come with investing in it for a longer period of time. Receiving counseling while you’re not in the midst of a crisis allows you to establish a solid relationship with your counselor, devote emotional energy you probably wouldn’t have during a crisis situation, and address ongoing issues that may otherwise lead to crises in the future.

#6. “I’m afraid my counselor is going to judge me.”

  • In a very judgemental world, this is understandable. However, counselors often choose their profession because they have compassion for people and are empathetic people by nature. They are also trained to remain as objective as possible. Finally, it may be helpful to remember you don’t have to share beyond the level of trust that you and your counselor have developed together. In my experience, if clients share something hard or that they didn’t necessarily expect, it’s because they felt comfortable doing so.

#7. “It’s too expensive.”

  • While “expensive” is a subjective term, it’s true that counseling is a financial investment. I would invite this person to consider their “why” for seeking counseling, and decide how important that is to them. If finances are still a barrier, there are many counselors such as myself who offer a sliding scale for those who qualify. 

#8. “I don’t have the time.”

  • I have found that we tend to find the time for whatever is important to us. I would also encourage this person to consider their “why,” and decide how important that is to them. 

#9. “I don’t really have any problems.”

  • We all have ways of being that don’t work as well for us, or those in our world, as well as we might think they do. A counselor can help you identify these areas.

#10. “It would be weird sharing my life with a stranger!”

  • Just like so many other firsts, there’s no way around the nerves that can come with a first counseling session. But many of my clients find that by the end of the that first session, I’m no longer a stranger, but a person who is interested in getting to know them and committed to creating the space for whatever it is they’re ready to share. 

If something in this post has resonated with you, or you think it might resonate with someone in your life, I hope you’ll consider sharing it! If you’re considering counseling, I encourage you to take the first step and reach out to someone today. If you’re in the St. Louis or St. Charles area and want to see if we’re a good fit, feel free to reach out to learn about my current availability or schedule a brief consultation or session here.

Hi, I’m Shauna. I graduated from Covenant
Theological Seminary in 2020 and have
loved working with brave people who’ve
decided they want to do more than just get by
in  life ever since. This is a space where
I address unspoken questions about
counseling, share tips for centered living,
and make life observations from personal anecdotes. So grab a cup of your favorite thing, and enjoy the perspective of a counselor, wife, mama, autoimmune warrior, daughter, sister, & friend.

The information provided on this site is not a replacement for the therapeutic relationship in psychotherapy, or in any way intended to replace medical advice.

New Branch Counseling, LLC

in partnership w/Kaleo Counseling Services
5498 St. Charles Street, Cottleville, MO 63304