As a counselor, I spend a lot of time thinking about ways I could improve interventions, and better help clients. However, with starting a new counseling practice, a bigger dilemma crossed my mind: “Why do many people fail to get help in the first place?” Naturally, I started to check the research, and read what other counselors have posted online. I expected to find loads of information devoted to the subject, but research appeared minimal. On the other hand, counselors had much to say on their blogs and websites. Hardly scholarly, but the several repetitive items tended to pop up. That could suggest counselors are copying off their colleagues blogs, or anecdotal evidence from experience led to many similar themes. Anyhow, I intend to explore the topic over the next few posts, and address ways in which Lift Professional Counseling hopes to make it easier for people to make the decision to seek counseling.
One research article that turned up in which I found interesting looked into self-concealment, defined as a predisposition to hide distressing or potentially embarrassing information about oneself, correlated to avoiding counseling services (Cepeda-Benito & Short, 1998). Of particular importance with self-concealment were additional factors common in mental health services that would suggest a population with greater need for services, but less likely to obtain them. For example, not sharing distressing information is commonly linked to increased interpersonal conflict, depression, and/or inferior recovery from trauma. While previous research suggested self-concealers were more likely to seek counseling services due to the correlation of greater mental health risk, the present researchers concluded that self-concealers were more likely to avoid counseling. This was largely associated with negative attitudes toward counseling, a theme that arose in the present study, and with previous research. The bottom line according to these researchers, catch problems in the early stages to increase success, and favorability.
Cepeda-Benito, A., & Short, P. (1998). Self-concealment, avoidance of psychological services, and perceived likelihood of seeking professional help. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 45(1), 58-64.