There are many reasons why someone might think about making an appointment with a psychologist. Life is constantly handing us challenges that are difficult to face. Many of us struggle with anxiety, stress, fear, and depression as we navigate through life and its constant hurdles.
Whether these problems result from our family or marriage, economic situation, trauma or all of the above, we can end up feeling alone and isolated with our issues. It is easy to feel lost in them and unsure of how to process all the emotions they bring up. Oftentimes, we can feel trapped in a downward spiral of anxiety, fear, hopelessness, and worthlessness.
So why don’t more people seek the advice of a psychologist to find guidance out of the dark? Unfortunately, those same fears that keep us trapped in our struggles are what keep us from looking for help.
Are you thinking about seeking outside help for your problems? Are you struggling to overcome the fear of going to a psychologist?
In this article, I will talk about why we struggle with the fear to look for help. I will also discuss the steps that you can take to overcome it.
Why People are Afraid to go to a Psychologist
Some of the main reasons that people list when explaining their hesitancy to talk to a therapist are quite understandable. Therapy can be expensive. It can also be inconvenient or time-consuming. But those reasons are practical justifications that can be used to cover up deeper fears.
Have you ever thought to yourself,
“I’d feel weird talking about this stuff to a stranger.”
When it comes to expressing your deepest thoughts, it can feel really uncomfortable to speak about them to someone who does not know you. It often seems like our problems can only be understood by somebody close to us.
It might seem like a more natural option to turn to friends and family. They understand our situations and the context of our problems. It often feels more comfortable to turn to them when discussing our mental wellbeing. Unfortunately, counting on the people close to us to help us out of the depth of our problems may only cause more harm than good.
Jenna Williams, a senior editor and author at Subjecto, has had her fair share of fears regarding seeing a therapist. She underlines just how important it is not to brush off the idea of seeing a specialist as unnecessary.
“Most psychologists will take the time to make you feel welcome and comfortable. They do not want to come across as a judgmental stranger. They will work to develop trust so that you feel like you can open up to them. They want to create a personal relationship that will let you feel the freedom to express yourself openly.” — says Jenna.
“Therapists or psychologists just sit there and judge you.”
It is really easy to perceive that a therapist is judging you when they start to ask you questions. They make you dig into the meat of your problems. That is why you’re there. It is completely normal to feel judged when someone gives you advice or feedback that makes you feel uncomfortable.
Remember, a psychologist’s job is to help you see your problems from a new perspective. They want to help you tackle them in a productive way that helps you move forward. Therapists and psychologists are highly trained to analyze and understand you and your problems. They want to help you do the same.
If you are truly motivated to overcome your issues, you can discuss the feeling of being judged with your therapist. It is good to keep in mind that part of therapy is discussing the emotions and feelings that therapy itself will bring up.
“I don’t need to make all my problems public.”
This is a completely normal feeling when it comes to talking about deeply personal issues with a complete stranger. It is easy to feel like you’re making your problems “public” and exposing yourself or your family to public scrutiny.
Remember, psychologists must maintain everything you say under strict confidentiality. There are very few circumstances where they can divulge information shared with them by a patient.
Overcoming Your Fear and Seeking Help
The fear of uncovering and exposing problems that are keeping you stuck in life can be remarkably strong.
Allowing ourselves to feel vulnerable and opening up our personal lives to examination by a stranger can cause feelings of great anxiety. These feelings are natural.
So how can one overcome the fear of going to a psychologist? Are there specific steps that one can take to build up the confidence to pursue the help that you know you need?
Yes, there are.
Psychologists have spent a long time investigating how fear works in our minds. Through decades of study, certain steps and techniques have been determined to be helpful in overcoming our fears.
These techniques are helpful to work through fears of all kinds. Let’s take a look at how you can apply them to help you build up the courage you need to go to a psychologist.
1. Identify Your Exact Fears.
This step involves thinking deeply about what, exactly, you are afraid of by going to a psychologist. Are you afraid of being criticized? Are you afraid of being exposed? Are you afraid that you will have to speak out loud all the thoughts you have in your head?
Try to be as honest with yourself as possible. What is the exact reason why going to a psychologist scares you?
2. Understand Your Fear
If your biggest fear about talking to a therapist is that you are going to be criticized, for example, try to understand where that fear comes from. Were you criticized as a child for voicing your opinions or expressing your emotions? Were your parents highly critical?
Try to dig deep and understand where this fear of criticism comes from.
The idea here is to identify your fear and to see it for what it is. By trying to understand where it comes from, you can take away its power over you and take the steps to control it.
Face Your Fear
Now you have to face your fear and confront it.
If the thought of going to a psychologist fills you with fear and anxiety, it might be too soon and even counter-productive to make an appointment.
Do you have any friends or family members that see a psychologist? Ask a friend about their experience. Did they feel criticized? Did they have their trust violated? Did they feel criticized? Opening up and talking about the possibility of visiting a psychologist is a great first step.
When you are ready, make an appointment. If you need a trusted friend to go with you, invite them to come along. It may even be a good idea to visit a psychologist based on a trusted recommendation. It might feel like a safer option.
The important thing is that you eventually confront your fear to overcome it. By continuing to avoid therapy, even if you know you need it, you are only validating your fear. This will only make it harder to seek help in the future.
It is an unfortunate law of human psychology that avoiding fear or anxiety only serves to enhance it and magnify it.
It might seem counter-intuitive, but the best way to overcome your fear of going to a psychologist is to go to a psychologist. Exposing yourself to your fears is the only way to get over them and take control of your life.
Remember, if you don’t ‘click’ with a psychologist, you can always switch practitioners. Psychologists are also individuals and you may be able to open up and relate to one better than another.
In the end, overcoming the fear of going to a therapist or psychologist is a positive step towards confronting the other issues in your life that are causing you problems. Emotional healing only takes place by taking one step after another and looking at your issues square in the face. Why not take that first step today?