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Going to Counselling is Easier than Going to the Dentist

It takes a lot of courage to front up to a counselling session to speak about a very private issue like a gambling problem. The feelings of guilt and shame we might have, coupled with the impression of counselling we have created in our imagination can make beginning the counselling process feel like a bigger step than it actually is. It is perfectly normal to feel hesitant when we go near anything that we are ashamed about.

It can be really hard to push yourself through the door of the counselling room. Especially when a part of you is saying that what is behind the door is unknown and going inside seems, on face value, to be a strange and confronting thing to do. It may even seem a better deal to go through the door of a gaming venue or to open up a gambling app instead.

We often hear from participants in our groups for people experiencing gambling problems that they experience a moment in the first or second session when they realise that all of the other members of the group “seem normal and pretty decent!”. It makes sense than that going through the counselling room door is a perfectly rational and normal thing to do. In fact, hundreds of normal people take the step of walking through that door for the first time every week.

It is natural for our self-talk to try and convince us that “everyone else who can take that step is sensible and normal but I am too weak, shameful, deficient, worthless and guilty to go to counselling”. These labels and judgements might fit with your self-image, but there is another way of thinking about going to see a counsellor. How does it feel when we reframe our self-talk like this:

“I am going to take my time in speaking privately to another human being (the counsellor). This other imperfect person (the counsellor) should be able to assist me in some imperfect ways (encourage me to identify some useful changes) so I can I can imperfectly start something. That ‘something’ is up to me, and the other person in the counselling room (the counsellor) is cool with that.”