O.k. now, after an extended tangent, my second observation as a counsellor attending counselling as a client; the stigma of going to counselling.
I felt strange going to counselling at first. I got caught up in the shoulds. “I’m a therapist, I should be able to know how to deal with things.” “I help people through their own depression, anxiety, worries, troubles, I should just use the same things I teach them.” Truth is, I was embarrassed to be going to counselling. I was telling people I had a doctor’s appointment when they asked where I was going or to get time off work to go. Not aware of what possessed me, but I did mention it to a colleague, and she informed me she was also going to counselling. As I talked to my colleagues and my friends about it, the more natural it seemed that I would be going for counselling. The stigma it seems, was coming from me; not some external source. In an article produced by Alberta Health Services, “Stigma is the reason two-thirds of Candadians living with mental illness donot seek help. (Seto, 2011). The same article also stated that “…one in five Canadians experience some measure of mental illness every year (Seto, 2011).” That same article talks about the negative image that media portrays of people with mental illness, that one is looked down upon for taking time off work due to mental illness. I don’t know that that is always the case. I’m sure it still exists, but have an idealistic sense of hope that it has diminished. As a therapist, I should be a steward of the profession. I should be trumpeting the benefits to all. I should be talking about what counsellors do. After all, if I truly believe that counselling is helpful to others, am I not somewhat hypocritical for not seeking the same help myself, the same way I would seek out a doctor or a massage? As a matter of fact, attending counselling may give me a better understanding of the counsellor/client relationship. Having had this experience, I can foresee addressing a client’s feelings around coming to see me; the support they have from their significant others.
Seto, Colleen 2011; Confronting the Stigma of Mental Illness; Apple magazine; Fall 2011/Issue 5: Alberta Health Services (forgive me for not adhering to APA… it would take me forever to find my old manual).
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