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maple vaughan counselling centre youthWritten by Student Volunteer Writer, Zeena Wong 
Western University 
Department of Psychology and Family Studies 

Many young adults want to seek counselling, but may choose not to for various reasons. I remember going to a counsellor for the first time in grade eleven. Although, I knew that seeing a counsellor was the right decision, I was initially hesitant about speaking to someone. I spent a lot of time contemplating why I shouldn’t go.

Now that I’m in university, my friends sometimes converse about attending counselling to deal with issues such as stress and anxiety, however they’re often uncertain about actually going. I’ve realized that my friends keep mentioning several particular reasons. Many of these reasons also overlap with my own personal concerns I initially had when I was about to attend. Below, I’ve listed common barriers that I believe may influence a young adult to be hesitant about attending counselling.

1. Fear

We are still at an age where we care a lot about what others think, especially our peers. A common perception amongst some peers is that those attending counselling are troubled.  Many young individuals rather stay silent and not attend counselling than be judged.

My suggestion:

No one needs to know that you are attending counselling. Who you decided to tell, is up to you. Regardless of what others think, it’s important that you seek the help you need to mature, grow and be well. Also, all counsellors are bound by a responsibility to keep your information secure and confidential. With confidence, you can assure that your concerns will be kept between you and your counsellor. There are times where confidentiality must be broken. Your counsellor should disclose these terms before you begin your first session.

2. Denial

Sometimes we are aware that we have a problem, but we ignore or disregard how it influences us. Many individuals often blame others for their problems, but fail to recognize how they themselves are contributing to the dysfunction. Seeking support can help us provide clarity and understanding.

My suggestion:

Don't ignore your feelings. Acknowledge the difficulties you experience and consider listening to the feedback of others. Reflection can provide you with clarity about particular situations and about your own behaviour. 

3. Bad past experiences

If you had a negative experience with a past counsellor, you will likely think twice before seeking counselling again.

My suggestion:

If you had a bad past experience, it doesn’t mean you should never go to counselling again. Every counsellor is different. Do your research before choosing a counsellor. If you know people using counselling services, ask if they like their counsellor. If you don’t know anyone using counselling services, consider making an appointment with a counsellor for an initial consult.

4. Think that counselling is ineffective

Sometimes, people have doubts about whether or not counselling works. This belief is particularly true for some young individuals. An empirically based practice, will provide you with the information (success rates and length of treatment) you need to make an informed decision about your care.

As with any concern, some issues are easier to cope with than others. Depending on the issue, counselling may be long-term or short-term.

My suggestion:

Be patient and find a counsellor that you feel comfortable with. Be informed and do the research you need to do to get the care you need.

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