Have you reached a turning point and, even though you are aware of that necessary next step, you can’t seem to move forward? What is your roadblock? Cost? Stigma? Fear of the unknown? Crossing barriers into therapy can be scary and painful. Let’s identify and address some of the most common barriers and calm your fears.

 Cost

Isn’t cost the factor that keeps us from doing most things we know are best for us? I have been known to avoid visits to the doctor for this simple reason. But, what happens when you wait to have a physical illness addressed? It often becomes worse and is no longer a quick fix. Sometimes, unfortunately, it’s even too late. Mental health issues can also become life-threatening if gone untreated. These should be treated with the same regard.

Cost often doesn’t have to be a barrier. At times, we immediately assume it is too expensive, not realizing there are multiple options. Many agencies and practices accept a variety of insurance plans, including commercial and medicaid. If you are employed, it is often worth the effort to inquire about EAP (employee assistance program). If your employer participates, it often provides as many as 6 therapy visits per episode. At any rate, please don’t allow cost to be the reason you continue on a path you aren’t happy traveling on. Ask questions. If one agency is unable to meet your budget, someone may be able to refer you elsewhere.

Stigma

Wouldn’t it be great if we didn’t care what others thought? Stigma and stereotypes oppress and prevent us from reaching our full potential as individuals. The stigmas associated with mental illness, however, are on the decline. We have reached a pivotal point. Social media has played a role, as have celebrities who are no longer ashamed of their mental health struggles. The prevalence of PTSD, especially among veterans, has been brought to light and it has become more widely accepted to seek treatment. Many have come to realize that each person deals with their own baggage of sorts….disorders, addictions, fears. Therapists often have their own therapists. We all need support.

Lack of Time

If we could only fit more hours into the day! Therapy can sometimes seem like an extra “task” to fit into your schedule. The face of therapy has changed drastically, however. Therapists and Counselors sometimes offer unconventional hours, even on weekends, at times. There are also options offered for remote/online therapy, sometimes even through local practices. If you have responsibilities that require you to be available at home, a quiet space and a computer are all you need. Explore all the options, no matter how far-fetched they may seem.

Bad Past Experience

As human as it is to do so, please don’t judge all therapists by one who was inexperienced or simply tactless. I have heard horror stories….therapists who fell asleep during the session, showed no compassion, or made the client feel as though they needed to prove they were suicidal. I’ve had my own experiences that could have sent me in the other direction, even eye rolls during session. However, I have had several wonderful experiences since and encourage everyone to find their own.

Fear of Something New

Starting something new can be just as terrifying, especially when you feel as though all the focus will be on you. A good therapist knows the journey is difficult. They will understand if you aren’t comfortable responding to all their questions right away. They will be patient during those silent moments, which they often see as times of growth and learning. View this as an opportunity to share your struggles with someone who will not share them. The only way your secrets will leave the office is if the therapist feels you might endanger yourself or someone else. So, if you fear your secrets being blasted around the community or across social media, you can rest easy. You are protected by a little thing called confidentiality.

Fear of failure

You may also fear it will take too long to see a noticeable change. Changing thinking patterns certainly takes time and dedication, but you will begin to notice small differences right away. You will most likely notice them before anyone else, because you are, after all, around you more than anyone. Take it easy on yourself and don’t set expectations too high too quickly.

Our hope is that this brief overview of barriers will quell your doubts and fears. Crossing the barriers into therapy and overcoming these roadblocks, whether real or imagined, can be the first step toward reaching your goals.  The idea of therapy need not cause anxiety. Take it one day at a time and, soon, you will begin to feel that weightlessness at the end of each session. That is the side effect of laying your burdens down.