We often turn to counselling when we are going through a difficult time in our lives. These difficulties can include needing help with addiction recovery and suicide prevention, as well as other symptoms that disrupt our lives, such as anxiety, depression, and PTSD. We have this wonderful lifeline of therapy, where there is someone available to talk to when we need them. We can talk to them about our hardships in life, how to adjust after suffering a loss, how to overcome addiction or how to handle post-partum depression. Unfortunately, even though we are in 2020, we still sometimes feel judged about going to therapy. This is known as a “stigma”. The word “stigma” is defined as “a mark of disgrace associated with a particular circumstance, quality, or person. The interesting thing is, often the stigma is self-imposed, but it can also be socially based. This stigma does seem to be decreasing, due to an increase in public awareness over the years, with social media campaigns such as Bell’s Let’s Talk, but it’s still there in many ways. In this post we will discuss stigmas in psychotherapy and counselling, and how to overcome them in order to focus on recovery and a healthier way of life.
The perception society has of individuals going through therapy and counselling has still not been completely normalized. Often instead of it being seen as normal, it is still seen as having a mental “illness”. It is a label that remains difficult to lift from the views of society. This can contribute to self-imposed stigma because individuals who tend to avoid therapy don’t want people to think they are “ill”. There can also be a certain level of pride that prevents someone from getting therapy because they feel as if people think of it as a sign of weakness. One way to abolish stigma, is to recognize that asking for help can be considered a sign of strength, rather than a sign of weakness.
WHY DO WE FEEL JUDGED?
Going through therapy can make us feel very vulnerable. Feeling vulnerable can have a lot of other emotions attached to it, including the feeling of being judged for our vulnerability. It is for this reason, that many of us might keep the fact of going to therapy a secret from loved ones and friends because we may think that they see it as a sign of weakness, or we are being judged or don’t want to be seen as vulnerable. In fact, we don’t often realize that we are the strong ones because we have reached out for help and going to therapy is creating a more positive and healthier mindset for ourselves. Perhaps if we were more open and honest about going to therapy and felt more confident about telling others and how it’s helping us, it could help others to come to accept the idea of therapy and we could help to reduce the stigma. It can definitely be a challenge to feel comfortable with sharing with the people around us that we seek therapy. Unfortunately, there are a lot of people who would benefit from therapy who don’t seek it out because of stigma.
WHAT WILL PEOPLE THINK?
Here are common reasons of why individuals will not seek treatment from a therapist:
- “People will think I’m losing my mind”
- “People will think my life is out of control”
- “People think I’m high maintenance”
- “People will think I can’t handle any challenges”
- “People will think I magnify issues”
- “People will think I’m a loser”
- “People think I’m weak”
We can all resonate with feelings of being judged, and we are sure that one or two of these reasons above resonate with some of you reading this post. What is important to keep in mind is that you are not crazy and you are not out of control. Choosing to go to counselling is 100% in your control and when you do, you are choosing to prioritize yourself and gain even more control over your seemingly uncontrollable situation. Also keep in mind, that our lives are valuable and priceless so you cannot possibly be high maintenance when your choosing to take care of your mental health. Life is short – we need to learn skills to replace behaviours that do not work and to address problems that cause difficulties in how we function in life. It takes a lot of strength to face mental health issues every single day, it is a battle and you are fighting it every day. That is far from being weak.
Countless studies and research has shown that there are several positive outcomes that arise when a person seeks out therapy. Whether it’s group or individual, in person or online, psychotherapy and counselling helps sort out issues from a wide range of topics like mental and physical health, addiction and recovery, financial, work-related, grief, post-partum depression, anxiety and obsessive behaviours. We specialize in treating individuals who are recovering from addiction. It is a holistic approach to recovery and it is completely online, from the comfort of your home. For further information, please contact us HERE.