Considering Going to Therapy? 5 Common Challenges

“If your car isn’t working you would take it to the mechanic.”

“Mental health care is just like physical healthcare. Take care of your body and your mind.”

“Going to a therapist isn’t weakness, it’s a sign of strength.”

Ever heard any of these? Me too. And, as a therapist, I believe them wholeheartedly. But, just because mental health care is as important as physical health care does not mean it is as easy to access. For a variety of reasons, acquiring mental health care can be challenging. Today we will address several of these difficulties and provide ideas and resources to help get the care you need!

Internal Resistance

For many people, the first hurdle to accessing mental health care is one’s own internal resistance. Many people believe mental health care is a sign of weakness or accept that “other” people may need it but not themselves. Others may recognize the need to talk with someone but resist until they are in crisis. Additionally, the more “subjective” experience of mental health care vs. medical care (i.e. talking vs. lab results) can feel less concrete.

Some suggestions for the above challenges are to approach mental health care more like medical care. For example, rather than waiting until you are in crisis, seek care sooner or even “establish care” by identifying someone you could go to or attend a session or two just to see what it is like. Talking with others who have gone to counseling can help make it feel less daunting. Also, reading up on the therapeutic process can help people feel more comfortable with what they may encounter in a counselor’s office.

External Resistance

Another common hurdle to mental health care is external resistance. It could be that your own support system does not value counseling, you may not have access to mental health insurance, or it may simply be overwhelming to figure out who to see, what terms mean, or there may be limited providers in your area.

While the practical process of accessing mental health care can be daunting and complicated, there are some resources you can request. If you have insurance or an EAP program through your employer, they can provide a list of contracted therapists. For those in college, many campuses provide counseling. If none of these is an option or you would like more flexibility, there are many excellent online options, including TalkSpace and Faithful Counseling (faith-based).


As mentioned, insurance is only sometimes mental health friendly. For many people, EAP programs through an employer or insurance may be the least expensive way to access care. Colleges often provide free counseling for students. But, if you do not have these options, online therapy can give you a lot more flexibility in terms of providers and time/type of communication (i.e. online, evening, phone, etc.) Additionally, a simple Internet search for “free or low-cost counseling” may turn up government or community-based options in your area.

That said, many therapists (both online and in-person) do not take insurance. In this case, you may pay their fee outright or ask about an income-based sliding scale. The average fee for counseling is often around $100/hour which can be daunting. Something that may be helpful is to consider that many people find relief in the first four to six sessions. Counseling is usually not a lifetime commitment. For many, it is a short span of additional cost.

Finding a “Good Therapist”

Probably the number one question is, “Do you have a good recommendation for a counselor?” While I do know several excellent therapists, previous points we’ve discussed often figure in (i.e. insurance, wait lists, fees, etc.) Once you determine whether to use insurance, then it is often a process of searching for counselors in your local area and/or reviewing profiles for online options.

As silly as it may sound, you can sometimes get a “feel” if someone would be a good fit via their online profile. Many therapists articulate on their websites what approach they take, indications about their areas of expertise, etc. After determining a couple of options you think may work, give them a call and, (likely) leave a message. Then, once you meet, allow a couple of sessions to establish rapport. Ultimately, you always have the right to switch if it doesn’t feel like a good fit.

Wait Time

We’ve already hit on this point from a couple of angles but, the reality of mental health care is it can be a longer process than getting into a medical doctor. There are simply not enough providers for the number of people who need care. As mentioned, the fastest way to access care is often via an online therapy program. So, if you are planning to use insurance and/or a local, in-person provider, it is important (if possible) to establish care before you are in a crisis. Of course, if you are in crisis there is always an option to visit with your medical provider for support, lean on supportive friends and family, and utilize crisis resources in the meantime such as 988, Crisis Text Line, and a number of other local and national options.

Yes, there can definitely be some challenges to accessing mental health care. But, there are also some perspectives and practical solutions that can help you find a way past those obstacles. As challenging as it can be, acquiring quality mental health care can be both life-changing and life-giving and an enduring value to your well-being. You are worth it!

March 9, 2023. By Anne Rulo, Author, Speaker, Therapist. FB/IG/Twitter @annemrulo 

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