Why People Don’t Seek Help In Therapy

Why People Don’t Seek Help In Therapy

Quite often I am asked, ”What can I do to get my loved one into therapy for help?” It is always frustrating to see someone you love suffering or acting in a self-destructive way and not be able to help them. Or perhaps your marriage is in bad shape or close to divorce and you want to fix things. But your mate is unwilling to do therapy. You can give ultimatums or do interventions. However, if someone isn’t willing to come and do the work not a lot will be accomplished. I’m not talking about the person who is somewhat skeptical or on the fence about if counseling will work but is willing to come in and at least see what will happen. I am referring to that loved one you keep begging to go and they are immovable. Why are people like that? In my experience here are some of the major reasons people won’t come or if they do they don’t get any help. Now in this article, I am focused on the client, not the quality of the therapist or therapy; that is another article. 


People are afraid of the unknown and often have preconceived ideas of what therapy is. They don’t know what the therapist will do or try to do to them. They can be afraid the therapist will get them to tell a dark secret they have hidden for years. They can be afraid a certain area of their life will be exposed they don’t want to be exposed. They can be fearful of opening the lid on something they have sealed off and buried years ago and they don’t want to dig it up. In their mind they have already dealt with it and don’t need to deal with it anymore. Because of fear, pain or shame they don’t want anyone poking around in this area. 

They may think only “crazy” people go to therapy; so they are afraid of the stigma. They are afraid that going to therapy may have a negative effect on their job so they don’t want any kind of record of it. If they come for marriage counseling they are afraid others will think they are having marriage problems, which isn’t always the case. When it is the case I tell people, I’m not going to tell anyone are you? Also, are you more concerned about what others think or fixing and preserving your marriage? People who love you will be glad you are working on your marriage. Of course a lot of these fears aren’t true. But our past experiences do have a bearing on our preconceived ideas. So educate yourself and with areas of concern you can usually talk to a therapist or their office to address some of these concerns before you start therapy. 

Lack of Self-Awareness 

The person doesn’t think they need any help because nothing is wrong with them. Everyone else can see the issues but them. The problem is others. Like the alcoholic who says, “I don’t have a drinking problem. I just drink to relax and can stop anytime I want to.” Of course they never want to. This is called denial. They can see the faults of others but never themselves. Jesus referred to this mindset in the gospels when he told people to first look at themselves before looking at others. He said, “First take the beam out of your eye before trying to remove the speck out of your brother’s eye.” 

Not only can people close to you see the problem, often others not so close can see it. When you notice co-workers not wanting to work with you, friends distancing themselves from you, people avoiding you,

not returning your calls or texts; that should be a signal. There are certain kinds of people other people just don’t want to be around unless they too are dysfunctional. This lack of self-awareness can be caused by several things; insecurity (low self-image, low ego strength), a personality disorder, or just plain pride. They are unwilling to humble themself and admit they are part of the problem. You can’t fix a problem until you first admit you have one. 

An Unwillingness to Change 

If I don’t think I am doing anything wrong then I don’t have anything I need to change. They may verbally acknowledge they aren’t perfect and give lip service to needing to change. However, they never get specific about what exactly they need to change. If they do start to change it is often in the form of checking boxes rather than any true heart change. This is why the changes don’t last. Before long they are back to their old self. Because in their mind they aren’t the one who really needs to change it is their mate or other people. 

They truly believe that if that other person would change then all the problems would be solved. They don’t think they are a part of the problem. They justify their reactions because of the other person’s actions. “If you wouldn’t have done/ said this ___________, I wouldn’t have done this. My momma always told me, “Two wrongs don’t make a right.” In other words I am responsible for both my actions and my reactions. The finger is always pointed at what the other person needs to change. Emotionally this kind of person is living in the childlike dependent state (where a lot of us live at times), that is why even though they are an adult they act like a child at times. In this state everything revolves around me. This is a legitimate state for a child but not for an adult. As an adult I should have matured to an independent state where I can own myself; my actions, reactions, as well as my responsibility to provide for my material needs. 

Lack of Pain or Motivation 

You’ve heard the expression, people don’t change. This is true most of the time. However, the reality is anyone can change. If that is true then why don’t they? Why do people keep acting in ways that are self-destructive, hurt others, don’t work and don’t take them where they want to go in life? The answer is a lack of pain; they lack a motivational crisis. It is the pain, pleasure principle. The pleasure they get from not changing is more enjoyable than the pain of the consequences of not changing. If you turn up the heat so the pain of the consequences were greater than the pleasure of the status quo, that would be the motivational crisis needed to change. All true lasting change has to come from within us. That is why God always works first on changing the heart of a person. However, often he uses external pain to get our attention and start the heart change process. He warns us in scripture that the way of the transgressor is hard (painful). It is a sow and reap process. The consequences, good or bad are often not immediate but develop slowly over time. 

The wise and mature person understands this and is able to delay gratification to achieve their future goal. Some people are wired to be high achievers. They have been trained and programmed by parents to do the right thing. But regardless of our training there is always a reason for everything we do – always a payoff. We need to ask ourselves, “What is my payoff;” so I am constantly aware of it. Is it a good enough payoff 

to keep me doing the right thing? Generally we are more motivated by the positive rather than the negative. An example in the spiritual world is God wants us motivated by love not fear. We love God

because he first loved us (1 Corinthians 13; 1 John 4). However, for some the positive doesn’t initially motivate them. It takes the fear of the negative consequences to motivate them. In this broken world, filled with hard hearted, selfish people, it often takes pain to start the motivation process. 

A Victim Mentality 

In the Marxist, Communist game plan the world is divided into two groups; the oppressors and the oppressed (victims). Once you have been declared the oppressed you are the good guys (victims). Everyone else are the oppressors (bad guys). They are to be attacked, vilified and destroyed by any means necessary. Now in society which group would you want to be in, good guys or bad guys? Of course the good guys or victims. So with this philosophy indoctrinating people over the last 60 years through all our institutions is it any wonder why so many people have a victim mentality. 

As a victim, nothing is my fault, it is all the oppressors fault. So I don’t have any responsibility for my life. However, this is a damaging and cruel philosophy because it robs people of the power to change their life and their life situation. Why would you want to turn the power for your future and happiness over to others: especially to the government? You know the big lie, “ I am from the government and I am here to help you?” The more power we give to others the more they will try to control our lives. Now there are many things in life we have no control over. Hurtful things may have been done to you, even by members of your own family. 

Why would I allow them to hurt me even more by continuing to be their victim? As an adult I know I have power over my life and my preferred future; if I choose not to be a victim. What will I now do with the hand that has been dealt to me in my past? Maybe I can’t make the changes totally by myself. After all, none of us are truly self made. I can draw help from others, living and dead to heal, change and grow. There will be others who are willing to help if I am willing to reach out and ask for help. My past doesn’t have to define my present and my future. 

An Unwillingness to Accept Reality 

Often I will talk with someone who has a negative, critical, angry attitude about life in general. When they look at the world and their life all they see is darkness. You know the kind of person I am talking about the glass is always half empty never half full. They have a permanent scowl on their face. Everything is doom and gloom and the world is going to hell in a handbasket. No matter what you say or possible solutions you give them they will shoot it down. If you talk very long to them they just suck the life right out of you. You walk away feeling depressed and hopeless after being with them. 

Is the world a mess? Yes. Is there injustice and bad things happening in the world? Yes. But the world has always been this way and will continue to be this way. However, there are good things going on in the world; they just don’t make the evening news. Bad news sells and it is used to sell us a lot of things. There are also positive things going on in your life. Can’t think of any? Try thinking harder. Don’t overlook the simple things, like the fact you can breathe, you woke up today or you have a roof over your head. Are you starving? You get the picture. 

Maybe things shouldn’t be the way they are but they are. Accept the reality of this world and life. Accept what you can’t change, work to change what you can and leave the rest to a sovereign God. Or if you

want you can grow into an old negative, critical, angry person who has no joy in life and no one will want to be around you. 

Don’t allow any of these reasons to keep you from getting help for your life, your marriage or your family. Life is too short to live in pain, stress and negativity. Reach out and try counseling, you have nothing to lose and a lot to gain.

Boynton Beach Counseling Center
Gateway Counseling Center
1034 Gateway Blvd. #104
Boynton Beach, FL 33426
Phone: (561) 468-6464
Phone: (561) 678-0036

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