Overcoming Fear of Therapy: How Person-Centered Mental Health Treatment Empowers Clients
Psychotherapy is an effective form of treatment that can lead to insights and lasting changes. Despite its proven ability to treat mental illness, though, it’s not uncommon for people with mental health challenges to avoid going to therapy, or to stop showing up before problems have been solved.
There are many reasons why people may avoid therapy, including fear. If you’ve been resisting therapy, it may be because you’re afraid of hearing a diagnosis of mental illness, or you may be afraid to uncover buried pain and to face your feelings. You may also be reluctant to trust a therapist to hear about what’s really going on inside or think that a therapist may try to dictate what actions you take or what feelings you experience.
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Fearing the Diagnosis of Mental Illness
It’s not unusual for people to avoid discussing mental health symptoms with a doctor or to avoid seeking therapy for symptoms such as excessive fear, prolonged sadness or unpredictable mood swings. A diagnosis of mental illness is often associated with stigma, so you may be worried about the reactions of others if you seek treatment.
The problem is that symptoms of mental illness can make you miserable and affect your ability to function in your daily life. Without treatment, symptoms may worsen with time. Talking to your doctor or a mental health professional gives you the opportunity to learn what’s causing your symptoms and to get started on a plan that can help dramatically reduce them.
Facing Other Fears Related to Therapy
People often avoid therapy because they believe it’s going to be painful to examine things that may have happened in the past or to feel overwhelming or unpleasant feelings. Society encourages avoidant behavior such as turning to alcohol or street drugs or even to binge-watching TV shows to block or avoid feelings. But blocked emotions can cause stress and eventually even cause physical problems such as headaches, intestinal disorders, insomnia, and autoimmune disorders.
Avoiding your feelings only works for so long, and therapy is an important tool in learning new coping skills. Talking about your thoughts and feelings with a supportive person can be enormously helpful, and therapists are specially trained to help you work through unpleasant or unhealthy thought processes. The right therapist can help you to feel cared for and to make positive changes in your life.
The Fear of Letting a Therapist Control You
Patients sometimes feel there’s an imbalance of power in therapy, and that the therapist has more strength and control of this process than they do. This can lead to resistance to treatment or fear of surrendering control over their lives.
An option for getting past feeling like you’re surrendering your power to the therapist is to participate in person-centered mental health treatment. Also called Rogerian therapy, it’s a therapeutic technique in which the client takes an active role in therapy.
How Person-Centered Therapy Works
The role of the therapist in person-centered mental health treatment is to offer empathetic understanding, to listen without being in any way judgmental and to acknowledge what you’re sharing without trying to exert influence or steer the conversation in a different direction. The therapist refrains from trying to offer advice but instead listens and restates what has been shared. This can help you to sort through your challenges and to find your own solutions.
Person-centered therapy offers a safe and supportive atmosphere of unconditional positive response. The therapist offers empathy and acceptance regardless of what you share in your therapy sessions. This allows you to express your true feelings without fear of being judged or rejected. This, in turn, can lead to a healthier view of the world and a less negative view of yourself.
Taking Charge of Your Mental Health
Taking charge of your own mental health in person-centered therapy can be very empowering. Instead of seeing your therapist as a leader or an expert, you’ll have the power to decide what you feel you need to work on, rather than allowing the therapist to control sessions. You’ll have control over your own services, including the amount, duration and choice of providers. This can help to build strength and self-confidence.
When you’re experiencing mental health challenges, you have the right to focus on the problems or challenges that are most crucial to you and to work toward figuring out your own solutions. In person-centered mental health treatment, the therapist isn’t an authority figure and isn’t superior to you. You don’t have to fear being judged or steered away from talking about things that are most important to you.
Getting past the fear of seeking help through psychotherapy can help you to transform your life, have better relationships, and cope with whatever comes up. When you can participate in your treatment goals to the greatest extent possible, there’s no need to fear therapy.
If you or a loved one are struggling with a mental health concern, please contact us at (855) 409-0204 or submit the form below and a treatment specialist will contact you.
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Since 2004, Lori has worked with the behavioral health treatment community to bring awareness about mental health disorders and evidence-based treatments. Lori strives to help people better understand mental illness and provide support to those needing help and their families. As a mental health advocate, Lori works to be a voice for those suffering from borderline personality disorder, depression, anxiety, trauma, or any other disorder.