If we have a toothache or a chest cold, we seek the help of a dentist, doctor or a pharmacist. Unfortunately, the same attitude doesn’t always apply when it comes to seeking help for personal, relationship or mental health problems. In reality, it’s as wise as seeking help for our physical ailments.
Common myths and beliefs exist that discourage many from getting support. Popular media has painted the image of a troubled individual lying on a couch in a "shrink's" office while the good doctor digs into the patient's murky unconsciousness and determines the nature of their problem. This process was said to take years and cost a king's ransom. Some people believe that only “crazy” people seek counselling. From the humorous to the harmful, myths about therapy and the people who benefit from it can present a significant barrier to getting the help that someone needs.
Myth 1: I will have to hash out painful details.
Solving problems does not always involve rehashing a person's history. For many, exploring solutions to problems can be more beneficial than discussing the problem itself.
Myth 2: I should handle my own problems.
It is an unfortunate belief of many that admitting to having a problem is a sign of weakness. We live in a culture that encourages a rugged self-reliance and a stiff upper lip. This attitude remains a bigger obstacle for men than women, yet it factors into everyone's reluctance to talk about their problems with a professional. Problems can be overwhelming and you don’t have to solve them alone. Seeking help is NOT a weakness.
Myth 3: There is something wrong with me.
There is a saying that goes, "The problem, not the person, is the problem." In other words, "problems are problems" and "people are people." People who are overwhelmed by problems aren’t abnormal, broken or crazy. Problems are a normal circumstance of living our lives. When we are swept up by the emotional stream of an issue, we may become overwhelmed and feel like we are drowning. In these times, it makes sense to seek a counsellor or therapist who can help us gain perspective.
Myth 4: Therapy won't work for me.
At times, our problems can seem so insurmountable or numerous that we are unable to have hope. Finding support and talking problems out can help identify solutions that will challenge a problem's hold on you. Speaking with an objective counsellor can be a huge relief as it will allow you to be open about your thoughts and feelings in a safe setting. This creates perspective and enables you to restore or gain your own sense of control.
Keep these tips in mind when you feel ready to take your life back and conquer a significant problem:
- There is more than one way to look at a situation. A counsellor can help you find different ways to view the situation. You likely experience moments during your day when the problem feels less profound or doesn’t affect you as much. Be curious about how or when those moments happen and explore them with support.
- You are not your problems. Your problems don't own or define you. You have the strength, resources and ability to resolve the challenges that you are facing in life. A counsellor can help you see the strengths that you possess to overcome the problem.
- Having problems in life is normal. Reaching out for support is as healthy as going to the doctor or dentist.
- You don't need to understand what caused a problem to resolve it. Emphasizing solutions can lead to positive changes and problem resolution.
- Not every counsellor will be the right fit for every person. Be assured, however, that there is a counsellor out here who is a good match for you.
If you are struggling or need support, counselling is available to Manitoba Blue Cross members with Employee Assistance Program or Individual Assistance Program coverage. Reach out for support here.