All the reasons not to are bad ones: Why is it we don’t see a psychologist?

These days we are constantly being bombarded with information about what we need to do for our health.

There’s an overwhelming amount of options and advice out there – from green juices, to eliminating sugar and caffeine, to interval training … there’s no end to ways to invest your time and money to improve your body.

But what about the mind?

Taking steps to care for your mental well-being, including seeing a psychologist, is frequently overlooked, but it could be the best health investment you make.

What does a psychologist actually do anyway?

When it comes to the management and maintenance of good mental health and wellbeing, many people I meet are unaware of exactly what a psychologist does and how we are able to help with a wide variety of issues.

Psychologists work with people who are dealing with anything from anxiety and depression, to trauma, grief, relationship issues, stuck thought patterns, trouble making decisions, parenting, behaviour management, confidence, improving performance, learning…. the list goes on and on.

As psychologists, we have the tools to assist people at any time in their lives and to build skills that will get them on an even keel again or simply function better in a particular area of their life.

The successes I have seen over the years have led me to strongly believe that therapy with the right psychologist for you may be a core part of caring for your mental health and is money and time well spent.

So what is stopping you or your loved ones from taking action?

What stops people from seeing a psychologist?

Taking care of your mental health is becoming a more accepted part of our commitment to ourselves. Yet many people still find it hard to admit that perhaps they need some help in dealing with their issues.

Many people find it hard to believe that psychological therapy will really make an observable difference in their lives. As a result, they wait until absolute crisis before seeing someone, even though they’ve known for some time that their issues have been affecting their functioning.

In fact, it is not uncommon for people to sit on a referral from their GP for months or even a year before having the courage to make an appointment!

Some of the most common reasons why NOT to see a psychologist

Because there are still stigmas surrounding mental health, many people have a long list of why they won’t seek help. These ‘reasons’ are common – but that doesn’t make them true.

If you have been contemplating getting help, or aren’t sure if seeing a psychologist might be helpful, then some of these common thoughts as to why not do it might sound familiar to you:

  • It is just an expensive chat. I don’t have the money to waste on that – I have friends I can chat too, even though they are a bit sick of hearing about my problems.
  • Why would I want to do all that naval gazing? – It’s going to make me worse to think about things more. I do my best to avoid it so I can get on with things.
  • I am supposed to be able to work this stuff out myself. It would mean I am such a weak person for needing assistance from someone else to address my problems. I don’t want to feel dependent.
  • I’m going to waste their time – surely a psychologist is only for “crazy people” and won’t have time or interest in someone like me.
  • I’m too busy – I have other priorities that are more important than therapy. Things will get better I’m sure.
  • Medication is going to be a better solution and more cost effective and efficient than therapy.
  • I need practical tools not just a talkfest.
  • I am so anxious about the idea of opening up to a stranger – how will I deal with the feelings of shame and vulnerability? If people knew who I was under this, they would reject me or judge me. Even a psychologist wouldn’t want to know me.
  • This isn’t even for me really. My partner demanded I come along as they are fed up with my reactions and want me to be less stressed or cranky, but I’ve put off the appointment for months. I’m here but you are going to have to convince me that it is not a complete waste of my time and money.

Yes, when it comes to seeing a psychologist, there are many excuses we can tell ourselves that can stop us from getting started. But all of these ‘reasons’ are nothing more that myths that get in the way.

Should I see a psychologist?

If you are contemplating therapy but unsure if it is worth your investment, you are probably wondering 2 things:

  1. Will I get any tangible benefit for my investment of time and money?
  2. How will therapy help?

I will be covering the answers to both of these questions in upcoming blogs, so stay tuned.

For now, what I can say for certain is that psychological therapy has a lot to offer. If you can relate to any of the above ‘reasons’ why you don’t need to see a psychologist, you may be getting in your own way. Instead, I highly encourage you to speak to your GP to discuss, or call a local psychologist’s practice to learn more about their team and the types of therapy they offer.

It takes courage sometimes to take the first step, but I’m confident that you will find doing so to be well worth it.

Alexandra Frost

Clinical Psychologist

 

 

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