I’m Afraid to Go to Counseling  

For some people going to therapy or counseling — whether in person or online — isn’t easy. In fact, it can feel terrifying. A person who has never been in mental health treatment before might be afraid that starting counseling means there is something “wrong” with them. Being in therapy doesn’t mean there is something wrong with you. It indicates that you are taking control of your mental health and you want to feel better.

Sometimes, part of the fear associated with starting counseling is that people don’t want to confront their problems. It can be overwhelming to open yourself up and not be able to predict the outcome of that openness. You might find being emotionally open results in uncovering past pain, anger or resentment. Perhaps you have been afraid to confront these feelings in the past, and now going to counseling forces you to look at what you’ve been avoiding.

If you’re feeling depressed, you might find yourself thinking the worst or predicting a catastrophe rather than a positive outcome from being in counseling. You don’t have any way of knowing what will happen after you start the therapeutic process. But if you are in emotional distress, therapy can provide some relief for these feelings. Even if you’re afraid to change, change has the potential to be positive and affect your life for the better.

There are ways to make starting the counseling process less intimidating. One idea to try is getting a referral to a trusted mental health professional by someone you know has seen this person. Going to a doctor without any reference might cause a person to be more fearful of the process.

You can discuss your fears about therapy in therapy. During your first sessions, talk to your therapist about what scares you as you start the process. If anyone will understand these fears, it’s that person. Don’t be afraid to express your feelings to your mental health provider — it may result in a more honest relationship and better therapy.

After you work through your initial fears, you will likely feel more at ease and may end up loving the therapeutic process. Remember that therapy isn’t always comfortable, and there will be times you will struggle with the feelings you are experiencing. Try to stay in the moment and process your feelings. You may be able to understand them with time. Nobody enjoys being in pain, but the pain can result in something positive. Pain is a signal that something needs to shift or change in our minds and bodies. Think about having a broken bone. The pain you feel is a signal that your body needs to heal. The same goes for mental and emotional distress. Think about how much better you feel once your bone heals. The counseling process is a way to ease the trauma of your past and pave the way into the future.

If you’re feeling nervous about starting counseling, you are not alone. Many people struggle with these feelings. However, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t give it a shot. Your mental health matters as much as your physical health. You are brave for starting this therapeutic endeavor, and you may see the benefits in your life with time.

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