Reaching out for help: Why it’s hard, why you should do it anyway

Reaching out for help: Why it’s hard, why you should do it anyway

A middle aged smart male executive interviewingHave you been considering talking to a professional to get some help for your problems?  Perhaps you’ve tried it on your own, maybe even asked for help from a friend, but your suffering is still persistent.  If so, you are among the 40% of those affected by mental health issues who are doing the smart thing and seeking help, instead of trying to continue to manage difficulties on their own.  In other words, by asking for help, you are one of the stronger ones.

Asking for help is pretty hard.  There are many reasons why you may be hesitant to ask for help.

1. “Nobody goes through my pain.”

Well, according to the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill, one in four Americans experience mental health issues on the level of an official diagnosis in any given year (not a lifetime).  At a party with 11 friends?  At least 2 of your friends are not just having a hard time,  they are having such a hard time that it fits the criteria for a diagnosable mental illness.  One in four, at the least, then, are going through a painful time also.

2.  “Therapy can’t help anyone.  It is a waste of time.”

Every once in a blue moon I hear someone say this.  I simply acknowledge their opinion and move on ahead with helping.  Why?  Because 70-90% of people who seek mental health treatment report improvement or quality of life, according to NAMI.

3.  “Therapy costs too much.”

Yes, insurance reimbursement for therapy has reduced over the years, and copays have increased.  However, the length of therapy has decreased since its earliest days (when therapy was thought to require years and years of almost daily therapy).  For anxiety and depression issues, it is not unlikely to expect a stay in therapy on a weekly basis of about 6 months at the most.   When I am working with clients, I usually review the progress they are making before the 6 month point.  If clients need to go past 6 months, it is usually because they have seen the benefits of therapy and are working on different issues at that point.  I think I can safely say that most therapists operate that way.

In addition, frequency of sessions can be negotiated.  Due to the rise in copays, it is often that I schedule someone for every other week, although it is generally the standard that people are seen every week.  Beyond 2 weeks, too many things happen in between sessions, and it becomes difficult to sort through all of them in a 45 minute session.

However, once the “crisis management” period of counseling is done and the client is starting to stabilize, it is not unusual to move from once a week to once every other week.

After someone has been stable for a while, if they want, I do titrate them to 1x/month or longer, especially if they are on medication management at our practice, Psych Choices of the Delaware Valley.

Finally, many therapists, including myself and others at my practice, provide a sliding fee scale for those without insurance or whose co-pays are too high.

4.  “What will my family and friends think?”

Frankly, they will probably be relieved.  No doubt, dealing with mental health issues certainly doesn’t come without stigma.  However, if your family members or friends are suggesting that you see someone, respect their concern and try it out.  It may help you feel better, and help your family and friends feel better.  Additionally, if you come from one of those families where it is seen as a weakness, then you can get help dealing with family members who don’t understand.

Pain is inevitable, but suffering is optional.  Pain can be reduced or dealt with in counseling.  Try it and see.

Nate Prentice, LCSW, CAS-PC is a psychotherapist and pastoral counselor at Psych Choices of the Delaware Valley.  To make an appointment with Nate, call our Intake Line at 610-626-8085 ext. 213, or use the “Make an Appointment” page on our website:

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