When facing problems in life (whether it be work, relationships, or just some annoying/life complicating habit), we can often feel helpless: not knowing what to do, how to go about our problems or where to start. At this point we may consider professional support, but know doubt, the thought of spilling our guts out to a stranger is enough to reason to say that “my problems aren’t that bad”.
But what’s really holding you back of taking that first step and making the call for help?
One common thing, that holds people back is uncertainty. You might feel uncertain about your problem (whether it is a problem at all?); uncertain about what the psychologist will think of you (dressed in his elbow patched suit jacket, asking you ‘how does that feel’ whilst holding onto his tobacco pipe – The Hollywood cliché); and uncertain about what a session with a psychologist will feel like.
These uncertainties are completely normal for the first timer and, as psychologists, we are well aware. Being uncertain or confused about the problem itself is usually a justification not to seek help as it is difficult to admit to having problems (or at least having concern about problems). No doubt, the psychologist will think something; she/he must to be able to help. However, we do so with an open mind and a non-judgmental attitude, thinking about how we can help. So your first session with a psychologist will look like you explaining your concerns, while we do all the work formulating how to best address your challenges and what to do next. All of this, with no judgment, and genuine positive regard for your well-being.
Another thing that makes the whole ‘seeking professional help’ thing feel at best, uneasy; is the elephant in the room, namely – “Embarrassment”. Plain and simple, we feel embarrassed disclosing personal information that doesn’t put us in the best light. We can often think and feel that our problem is so unique and bizarre, that it will shock the psychologist into submission. Yes, your problem is unique, to you, however; having problems in life is a fact of life so chances are, we have seen many before you, (like 1000’s) that have the same concerns as you but, in there own unique way. So keep in mind, embarrassment is likely to kick in before picking up the phone to make the call. But also keep in mind; we’ve heard it all. And did I mention, our confidentiality… “What is said within these walls stays in within these walls”. We do value your privacy so what you say is for our ears only*
In summary, taking the first step in seeking help is hard! When we feel uncertain we feel uncomfortable and that discomfort can hold us back. Embarrassment is a great feeling that stops many from being at their best. But a normal part of life, know doubt. With these 2 things in mind (uncertainty and embarrassment) remember this… We are open to hear anything you have to say, and chances are we have hear it before, so you’re not alone. Taking the first step can be your last step of difficult period in your life. If you are reading this, you have probably, at least considered professional help for a reason. So the worst-case scenario, you come in for your first appointment, feel a little awkward and find out what you are feeling is perfectly normal. At least you can say you have addressed your concerns.
Find out more about what to look for in a good counsellor for you.
*Confidentiality is of utmost importance when seeing a psychologist and as such the only times confidentiality can be broken is 1.) if your psychologist feels that you may be at serious risk of harming yourself or another person, 2.) your psychologist is legally required to do so such as in the case of subpoena or 3.) if you were to provide consent to your psychologist to share your personal information with another person such as your GP.