My Choice to Seek Online Counseling
For years, I knew that I needed to do something different when it came to my stress, anxiety, and overall emotional health. Whenever I thought about seeing a counselor, I always came up with an excuse. After discovering online therapy, nearly all of my excuses for not seeking counseling have been addressed. Below, I detail my top 3 excuses and how online therapy helped me dismiss my excuses and get the help I needed.
Finding the Time
If you ask just about anyone now-a-days, “how have you been?” It is very likely that they will respond with “busy.” I too find that living in the modern day is plagued with endless to-do lists, demanding tasks at work, soccer practices, finances, social media, staying in-touch with loved ones, and an infinite list of other necessities in life. So, when I started thinking about scheduling an appointment to see a counselor, the thought of leaving work in the middle of the day, driving through traffic, paying for parking, waiting for 15 minutes in a waiting room – all to sit on a couch with a counselor and discuss the anxiety in my life, caused me so much anxiety that I simply procrastinated scheduling an appointment.
Then I saw an advertisement for online counseling on my news feed. It offered the same type of services without the time commitment involved in commuting to and from a traditional counselor’s office. I decided to give it a try and soon found out that seeing a counselor didn’t have to be a three-hour commitment. It didn’t have to involve sitting in traffic and being in a waiting room with a bunch of people I didn’t know (or even worse – people I actually knew…more on this below). Online counseling allowed me to get the help I needed without sacrificing my most valuable resource – my time.
I live in a small town and am very involved with my community. I work in town, go to my children’s extra-curricular activities, and have friends from church. I do not think that I have been to the grocery store in several years without bumping into someone that I know. So, the thought of booking an appointment with the local counselor terrified me. I did not want people to know that I was struggling with stress and anxiety.
- What if I bump into someone I know?
- What if people find out that I am dealing with some emotional issues?
- What if people think I am having issues with my marriage?
It is clear that there is a negative stigma about seeing a counselor. I let the fear of perception keep me from seeking the help that I needed. Then I discovered online counseling. The ability to see a counselor from the comfort of my home alleviated my anxiety about being discovered by my peers.
In hindsight, my fears were incredibly silly. If I have a toothache, I go to the dentist. If I am having problems seeing the small text in a newspaper, I go to the eye doctor. When I am stressed out and just need to talk with someone, why am I hesitant about seeking help? It is hard to put into words but my conclusion is that the stigma is real. For whatever reason, people make an arbitrary distinction between physical health and mental health. Working on your physical health by going to the gym is perfectly acceptable and even encouraged. However, seeing a counselor to talk through some issues that have been preventing you from living your best life is perceived as weird and unusual. Although I do not agree with this distinction, it exists, and online counseling provides an alternative to avoid the stigma.
Be a Man
I grew up in a rural community in which boys learn from an early age that shedding even one tear in public will make them look weak. This formed my earliest opinions about what “being a man” entailed and has carried with me through my teenage years and early adult life. Like many of my role models, I have made a concerted effort to harden my emotions and deal with things “like a man.” Suppressing my emotions in this way was not beneficial in my early years of adulthood as I turned to alcohol as way of dealing with my problems. Although I never lost my job, beat my wife, or was evicted from my home, I certainly was not living up to my full potential. It was abundantly clear that the way I was dealing with my emotions was not effective, optimal, or benefiting my relationships with loved ones.
Everyone has had a moment when they vented to a friend, family member, or even a counselor and felt much better afterwards. This is not a coincidence. Talk therapy causes a reaction in your brain’s amygdala and frontal lobes that changes your body’s chemical response to stress and anxiety. This occurs in both men and women.
Looking back,I the thought of “real men don’t see counselors” is laughable. I have found that a high percentage of the world’s most successful individuals regularly seek counseling as a way to manage their emotions.
Written by guest contributor: Christopher S.