The Top 10 Reasons People Say No to Counseling

Deciding to see a counselor is often a difficult decision, which takes place over time. In most cases, people don't feel comfortable when they see a counselor for the first time. Here are a few of the reasons that prevent or delay people from taking the steps to give counseling a try...

1. "Receiving counseling is a sign of weakness."
Nothing could be further from the truth. It takes courage to address problem areas and examine painful feelings. Entering counseling is taking the first step in resolving difficulties.
2. "People who go to counseling are crazy. I’m not crazy!"
College students are high-functioning people. So, at a college counseling center all of the work is with high-functioning people, not “crazy” people. Some people who receive counseling feel “sick” in the sense of being unhappy, but you don't need to be feeling sick or non-functioning to go into counseling, you just need to be feeling stuck. Counseling helps when you have tried to address a situation on your own but your strategies don't seem to help.
Asking for help is a sign of maturity, self-awareness and possession of a sense of inner strength.
3. "Gustavus is too small—everyone will know what I talk about."
Counseling at GAC is strictly CONFIDENTIAL. Therapists at GAC must abide by strict ethical standards. It would not be OK for a counselor at GAC to inform anyone about what you said—or even that you were seen for counseling at GAC. There are some exceptional situations when a therapist at GAC might have to share some information you revealed in a counseling session. Here is a description of those rare cases:
Psychologists have a legal responsibility to disclose information without your consent if that is necessary to protect you or others from serious harm. These include cases where a client has communicated a serious threat of physical violence toward him/herself or someone else, or when a psychologist has reasonable cause to believe that the client is so unable to care for him or herself that the situation is life threatening. Additionally, psychologists are obligated to report any cases of child abuse or elder abuse.
4. "I wouldn’t even know what to talk about."
You don’t need to know what to talk about before you come. In counseling, people examine whether there are ways they think, feel and/or behave that they can improve. Your counselor will help you identify these areas and how discussing them could be helpful. In the process of exploring, students often discuss issues such as academic performance, relationships, adjusting to life challenges/changes, managing stress, or choosing a major.
5. "I can't afford to pay for counseling."
Counseling at Gustavus is covered by student fees, for up to 12 sessions each year. There is no additional charge for Counseling.
6. "I can always talk to a friend. I don't understand how talking to a stranger can be helpful."
Friends can provide wonderful support and empathy, and that’s often enough to help us through difficult times. But a counseling relationship is different in a very important way. In a friendship the needs of both people must be attended to. Friendships involve a mutual exchange of listening and sharing. In counseling, the focus is solely on you and during this dialogue about you, your counselor is trained to use therapeutic techniques to help you.
7. "I don't believe just talking can do any good."
Talking can actually do a lot of good. Discussing something with someone who cares about you and who is not judgmental helps relieve the emotional pressure caused by keeping our thoughts and feelings to ourselves. But counseling involves much more than just talking. Counseling provides a way for us to understand who we are and how we relate to the world around us. In counseling we focus our attention on aspects of our experience that we may have been previously unaware of. This provides new ways of looking at our problems and this often gives us new ways to handle these problems.
8. "I'm betraying my family."
Counselors are sensitive and respectful of concerns about family traditions and privacy. If conflicts about loyalty to family and culture are of concern, these issues can be discussed in the first session before more personal matters are addressed.
9. "If I talk about my problems, I'll just make them worse, or completely fall apart.”
On the contrary, examining previously suppressed concerns and worries helps dissipate the pain and intensity and helps us understand our problems better. Counseling provides a forum for exploring choices, which produces better decision making.
10. “ I may want to go to graduate school or be in the military or the CIA, and having been in counseling could get in the way of my being accepted.”
No employer or graduate school to which you apply can force Gustavus to share your counseling records. Records are confidential. Neither the fact that you seek counseling nor any information about the counseling sessions will appear in your student academic record. If any individual or office ever wants to know anything about your counseling, you would have to sign a release of information form before this information is released by Gustavus, expect in the rare exceptional cases noted above.