The Top 5 Barriers To Effective Counseling

fenceOver the last decade I’ve spent a lot of time with people in various stages of crisis.

Sometimes it’s at the very beginning when they’re in shock. Sometimes it’s somewhere in the middle when they’re managing the uncertainty of change. Sometimes it’s near the end when their new reality has settled in and they are beginning to feel normal again.

As a counselor I strive to be effective at every stage of crisis because I believe counseling works, and it’s my job to overcome the barriers that people have when they need help. People who are unfamiliar with counseling usually have some concerns about how it works and if it is right for them.

Here are the top five things I hear people say when they are uncertain about the effectiveness of counseling:

#1 Counseling is too expensive. 

Anyone who is considering counseling is making a choice about how to manage the difficult circumstances in their life. By the time this choice is being made there’s a good chance they’ve already tried any number of other alternatives that aren’t working.

It’s easy to fall into patterns of addiction, blame, denial, aggression, depression, perfectionism, anxiety, and many other short term solutions that end up costing lots of money, wasting years of time, and ruining relationships.

All of the money spent on counseling is an investment. Like any investment it requires a short term sacrifice for long term results. A few hours of committed counseling can yield exponential benefits because it can dramatically change the direction of your life.

By examining the way you think, and the choices you make, counseling can help you plant the seeds of a future that is healthier, happier and far better than you can imagine.

[ Read more: Why Therapy Is The Best Investment You Can Make In Your 20s ]

#2 Counseling is too embarrassing. 

It can be very  difficult to find someone to trust. Almost everybody in your life has a set of expectations for you, and your relationship with them usually depends on how well you meet those expectations.

Counseling is different. A trained, qualified counselor is an expert in building and maintaining a healthy relationship that is fully focused on your needs and best interests. They have an authentic desire to earn your trust so that you can work together on the issues you don’t want to share with anyone else.

Everything that happens in counseling belongs to you. A counselor has a professional obligation to keep your conversations private and isn’t allowed to even reveal that you are their client. Many people find that simply talking about their most embarrassing concerns in a safe and accepting environment can go a long way towards healing and growth.

[ Read More: How Therapy Can Help with Shame ]

#3 I’ve been to counseling and it didn’t work. 

Counseling, like any other relationship, requires clear expectations, healthy boundaries, and honesty. It is important that both the counselor and client are able to admit when their personalities or perspectives don’t match. In some cases a smooth ending to a counseling relationship, for whatever reason, may not be possible.

Even so, if one relationship doesn’t work out it wouldn’t make sense to give up on relationships altogether. It may also be possible that someone who wasn’t ready to benefit from counseling in the past may have reached a point in life when counseling can be more effective.

Try not to apply your experience with past counselors to all counselors in the future. Use what you’ve learned from your experiences to keep getting better at finding a counselor who meets your needs. Any good counselor also wants the same thing and will appreciate your honesty as you both get to know each other.

[ Read More: 10 Ways to Spot a Good Therapist ]

#4 I’m not the one who needs counseling. 

All of us know somebody who needs therapy. After reading that you’re probably thinking about them right now. To be honest, if you start asking around you’ll probably find a few people who think that about you.

But you can’t do the work of somebody else. If you are in a relationship with someone who needs help and they won’t get it, you can’t expect things to change by simply complaining about it. Very often your own inability to change is making it easier for them to stay the same. And if you start making changes, there’s a good chance the people around you will have to adjust.

As an outsider looking in, a counselor can help you become aware of unhealthy connections to people who may be hurting you. They can help you develop a clear strategy for making decisions that allow you to feel confident and safe regardless of how others treat you. And by initiating and participating in the counseling process, you may be able to inspire others to follow your lead.

[ Read More: Overcoming Codependency: Reclaiming Yourself in Relationships ]

#5 I don’t have time for counseling. 

Anxiety is all around us. Technology has made everything easier to do, so instead of relaxing we end up trying to do more than ever. The need to achieve can quickly use up our time, our energy, and our attention.

The world tells us that if we want to BE something we have to DO something. But that makes everything work backwards. Before we know it we find ourselves defined by our schedule, a schedule that seems to be controlled by everybody else. We can end up on auto-pilot, racing through the week, logging hours toward a goal that we may not be sure we even want.

Finding time for counseling means you will have to put yourself in charge of your calendar, instead of the other way around. If you schedule time to examine your priorities first and then develop a clear strategy to achieve them, everything else you do will be more meaningful and genuinely fulfilling.

[ Read More: The 5-Step Guide to Self Care for Busy People ]

I encourage you to consider what may be holding you back from scheduling an appointment. Once you take that first step we can have a brief conversation about your concerns and what we can do to make you feel more comfortable with the process.

Call now to schedule an appointment or to learn more about how our services can work for you. 


Photo Credit: © creativecommonsstockphotos




One thought on “The Top 5 Barriers To Effective Counseling

  1. My wife and I haven’t been on good terms lately so thanks for sharing this. I like your point about how your own inability to change can make it easier for your partner to stay the same too. I’ll try to be more open about counseling and focus on improving myself so she’ll hopefully have the same courtesy.


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