Thursday, July 19, 2007

The Stigma of Counseling


Today I was thinking about the stigma of counseling. For most people, going to see a counselor has very negative connotations. Am I right? People may be quick to suggest someone else go see a therapist, but few are quick to go themselves. What does going to a counselor mean to you? Here are some of the ideas I've come across (or had myself):

If you go "need" to see a counselor:
1. You are crazy.
2. You are spiritually weak.
3. You have no discipline.
4. You have no other choice (at the end of your rope).
5. You can't "handle" your own problems.
6. You are one step away from the nuthouse.
7. Etc, etc.

People see nothing wrong with going to a doctor when they are sick (well, most people) but seeing a trained counselor, psychiatrist, or therapist is somehow different. People are quick to get medication for their depression, but slow to let a counselor partner with them to work on the issues that cause/continue it. Someday, when I am a counselor I'm going to encourage people to come in a few times of year for a checkup, just like going to see your doctor. This way, maybe I can help decrease the stigma. Think you don't have the stigma? Ask yourself:
Do you think people who see a counselor "are weak?" Do you think Christians who see a therapist are spiritually weaker then those who don't see a therapist? If you said yes, you've got it. Sadly, I have the bias myself (though it's decreased since I have experienced therapy for myself). My goal is to try to see a counselor at least once a year for the rest of my life. Why? To help me grow.

May Light increase!

2 comments:

stacey said...

I have sought counseling a few times in my life. So now, I absolutely do not have a stigma. In fact I advocate it to friends! I agree, you go to a M.D. when your arm is broke so why the hesitation when your head/heart/life feels broken?! Before I went to counseling maybe I did have a stigma. I felt "at the end of my rope" and couldn't process my thoughts or (what felt like) just function! I felt weak. But you know what? That's ok and I'm glad I did. How many people go on and avoid, "live with" issues? I learned it was an act of strength--because I was doing something about it! I have seen three counselors and two out of three were a good fit. I think you have to take advantage of the "free consultation" many offer just as you have to find the right dentist, doctor or hairdresser!

I am in total agreement--once a year for a "tune up" sounds like a good plan!

I think you'll make a fantastic counselor!

~Stacey

Mark said...

Stacey: Well said (as usual). And thanks for the encouragement!