Why contacting a counsellor can give you the jitters

Taking yourself to see a counsellor can be an extremely frightening ordeal.  Aside from what you may actually experience in session with your counsellor, just making the initial phone call or sending that first email can make you feel anxious, afraid or inadequate.

A colleague of mine once told me that the average person makes contact with her office seven times before booking his or her first consultation. I took it as a confirmation that taking your time to consider coming to counselling and choosing the right therapist is normal.

This post is about the possible reasons for your trepidation contacting a counsellor.

Why you may want to see a counsellor

You may consider coming to therapy for a number of reasons. Perhaps you feel your life is missing something, but you can’t put your finger on what it is. Or maybe you recognize that your responses to life circumstances are out of balance.

You may have a hard time relating to people, or you may feel depressed or anxious. You may be craving a meaningful connection with another, but you either could never form one or found yourself in an unhappy or troubled relationship.

Whatever your reasons may be, it doesn’t change the fact that contacting a counsellor may feel very unsafe for you.

What may hold you back from contacting a counsellor

Many people have had at least one, if not several, experiences of being mistreated, neglected, abandoned or belittled by others at some point in their lives. You might be one of those people who suffered at the hands of others, either because they have taken actions against you or didn’t protect you from somebody else’s actions.

Because of the mistreatment, you may have become less trusting. Therefore, bringing yourself into therapy can almost seem counter-intuitive.

You’ve been hurt by other people, and yet, for the therapy to work, you have to trust a human being to help you. Seeing a counsellor means showing parts yourself that you are not comfortable sharing with others. It means being open and vulnerable and letting someone else care for you.

Another reason why you might hesitate to contact a counsellor is because counselling requires commitment and an investment of time, money and energy. You might be asking yourself, “Am I ready to show up every week and let myself be seen for who I am?”

The upside of taking the first step

The upside of making contact with a counsellor is that as soon as you break through the first barrier, you will feel like your life has already moved forward. You will also feel a sense of accomplishment.

Once you reach out to another human being and receive a response, you will feel you are no longer alone facing your challenges. You will get a sense of who your counsellor is, which should help you feel more confident about your decision.

Potentially, the very first session can provide you with an immediate relief from the burden you have been carrying for a long time. At the very least, you will have the experience of being heard, understood, validated and supported.

By making the first step of contacting a counsellor, you can set a new course for your life.


Trusting somebody new, especially if you’ve been hurt, is not easy. Depending on the severity of what you’re living with, it can take months, or even longer, to develop a sense of security with your therapist so that what exists beneath the surface can come to the surface and be healed.

Real healing doesn’t occur overnight, but the rewards you get from the experience should last you a lifetime. 


Have you thought about going for counselling but have not been able to make the first step? What were your reasons? What would help you make the first step?


Juliet - September 4th, 2013 at 10:20pm

Great article, Joseph.

Mia - September 4th, 2013 at 11:11pm

Thank You Joseph!