5 Reasons People Avoid Therapy

We all have points in our lives where what we’re doing, how we’re experiencing the world, and the obstacles we are facing become overwhelming or daunting. From maintaining healthy relationships to the nagging negative thoughts that came from our childhoods, to balancing work, personal life, friendships, and family obligations, we have a lot on our plates. Not to mention, the ever-growing expectation to be “always available” on social media and technology. Our time is constantly being widdled down to barely-there moments of peace and time for ourselves. Therapy is finally becoming less of a stigma that keeps us away and more of a requirement for helping us lead the lives we want to live. Despite that, many people avoid therapy even if it means trying to struggle through all of the difficult events and emotions on their own.  Why, exactly, is this the case?

We believe it won’t help with our particular issue:

Sure, therapy could be helpful in a lot of situations, but there’s no way it’s going to help with my particular issue, right? Wrong. The reality of the situation is that none of us are quite as unique as we think we are, when it comes to the obstacles we’ve faced, the traumas we’ve endured. No matter how unique, odd, scary, traumatizing, or shameful we feel about our experiences, isolating ourselves from getting help because of these descriptors doesn’t help us move beyond them. And it’s a false statement. There’s a therapist out there for each and every issue that’s been experienced or lived. It just takes some work to find that therapist who meets our needs.

We believe vulnerability is unbearable:

A critical part of being successful in therapy is being vulnerable.  There’s a common idea that vulnerability is weak, scary. That if we open ourselves up we are leaving ourselves open to more hurt and being taken advantage of. That if we open the doors, our secrets, the parts of ourselves and our experiences are out in the world and not able to be taken back. And although there’s a risk involved in being vulnerable, therapy is the perfect place to practice the skill of opening up in a safe space. Just read any one of Brene Brown’s books to learn about the value of allowing vulnerability into our lives. As she puts it, it is the basis for all feelings and emotions, like joy, happiness, and contentment, not just those “negative” emotions like sadness, fear, and anger.

We think we aren’t important enough:

Life is busy and if you’re like most people, you have 1,000 other things to do, so therapy becomes that thing you will do when you have time.  The truth is, it should be as important – if not more so – than many of the other things we prioritize above our self care. Our health and happiness are critical to a fulfilling life. We are masters of caring for others above our own well being. Not only is this unhealthy, it actually doesn’t work. When we give to others when we ourselves are depleted, we can only give a depleted version of ourselves to others. Let that sink in. When we prioritize ourselves, our minds and our bodies, we set the tone for our outcomes. Remember, we can’t take care of others on an empty tank. We have to care for ourselves first.

Therapy didn’t work the first time:

If you’ve been in unsuccessful therapy sessions in the past, you may feel that it isn’t going to work now. It makes sense, given our culture here. We barely have time to prioritize ourselves, and the moment we take the time out to work on ourselves instead of doing some other (more important, in our minds) task, we expect it to be exactly what we needed. And sometimes that doesn’t happen. But that doesn’t mean all therapists are bad and that therapy should be written off. All it takes it the right connection at the right time.  Finding the right therapist is similar to finding the right friend or partner. It’s a relationship. You have to feel a connection to be able do the deep work involved in working through your obstacles. The antidote is understanding what didn’t work in the other therapeutic relationships, so you can find a better fit. There’s great therapists out there waiting to help you on your journey. The second piece is being ready to go on that journey.

We don’t know where to look for a good therapist:

Finding that “right” therapist might seem hard, and it may take a few tries to find your therapist.  The first step is to know what you’re looking for.  Do you want someone who specializes in something in particular? Do you want someone who is direct or lets you lead? The next step is to do some research. Take the information you have on what you’re looking for and start researching. Using Psychology Today is a great online tool. Word of mouth is even better. Talk to others, and ask for their experience.
Looking for a therapist to help you navigate your present or process your past? Urban Wellness has 20 therapists who specialize in working with kids, adults, families and couples. Each therapist has a specialty that can make it easy for you to find the right therapist at Urban Wellness, but also help you feel confident in their ability to be your partner on the journey to living the life you want. See their bios here.

About the Author

Maureen Werrbach, LCPC is a therapist and the founder of Urban Wellness. Maureen sees patients at our Edison Park location. Maureen works with adults. Maureen’s specialties include EMDR, trauma, relationships, and entrepreneurs. If you are interested in working with Maureen, send an email today!