I have often commented that there should be a large balloon drop just as you enter my office….or for people who really don’t like balloons (I know a few) maybe celebratory music? A basket full of puppies? A plaque or trophy of some sort? There should be something to celebrate and acknowledge the strength and tremendous courage it takes to make it to your first counselling session.
Accessing counselling often requires much more than recognition and willingness. During my years working in mental health and addictions services I have met numerous families and individuals who faced the challenges of navigating a complicated system. They made the phone calls, endured countless wait lists, told their story multiple times, cleared their schedules,found a babysitter, got the time off work, and mustered up the courage to finally sit face to face with a therapist.
For individuals struggling with depression and anxiety, the very symptoms for which they seek relief can become the biggest barrier to getting help. Fatigue, panic, overwhelming emotions and negative thoughts can feed the urge to isolate rather than reach out.
And finally there is stigma. While we have made great strides in talking about mental health, there is still an underlying fear of being judged that can weigh heavily on someone considering counselling.
So….when you make that first call, block off the time in your schedule and make it to that first appointment please know: you are perceived as strong, capable and brave. It’s one of the few assumptions I allow myself to make in therapy, because I know and have been taught by clients to appreciate how much effort it takes to make that first call.
While there may not be a balloon drop once you make it to my office, rest assured there will be an acknowledgement and conversation about the strength it took to get you this far….