How Online Therapy Can Help You Reach Your Goals

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John was having trouble managing his impulses. Whether it was blurting out vulgar language during a dinner with his girlfriend’s parents or crossing a line and insulting his boss in the middle of a meeting, he was constantly getting in trouble. To advance in his career and maintain a healthy relationship, he needed to change. Eventually he decided to set a goal: control what was coming out of his mouth.

This strategy failed miserably. John realized that the goal was vague and there was no one to help him reach it. It did not seem fair to burden his girlfriend and co-workers with his behavior. He needed the help of a neutral party but wasn’t sure where to find one.

One of the biggest benefits of therapy is working with a professional you are paying to help set goals that are realistic and measurable. A therapist keeps clients accountable and pushes them to pursue what they want. Continue reading How Online Therapy Can Help You Reach Your Goals

4 Reasons to Try Therapy at Least Once

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Going to therapy isn’t a subject many people can talk about comfortably, work must be done to keep trying to normalize mental health care. Managing crises or mental illnesses is only one part of psychotherapy. It’s about admitting that sometimes we need help to become the best version of ourselves and live a happier life.

If you haven’t tried working with a therapist yet, you might find that it could benefit you. Here are four reasons why you should give therapy a shot at least once.

1. Unbiased Advice

If you already talk with friends or family about problems in your life and get advice from them, that’s great! It’s healthy to have a group of loved ones to vent to, but they might not be giving the best advice. To ensure you can trust what someone’s telling you about a situation, speak with a therapist who’s emotionally removed from the situation. They’ll help you see the bigger picture and decide how to move forward strategically from there. Continue reading 4 Reasons to Try Therapy at Least Once

How Can Single Moms Heal After Domestic Violence?

mother with son drawing

Getting out of an abusive relationship is one of the most difficult obstacles single moms can face. Summoning the courage and tenacity to walk away when they have no clue what the future will hold takes gall and serious faith.

Fortunately, there is hope on the other side. Leaving an abusive relationship is only the beginning. Here are five ways to begin the journey of healing to help you not only survive, but thrive.

1.Talk to Someone

Get professional help. Sharing your story is one of the most crucial ways to heal productively after surviving relationship violence. Although the hurt and shame of it may continue to feel like a dark cloud over your head, one way to lessen the pain is to regain control and own your own story.

Sharing with close friends and family members is a start, but going to a licensed professional is much better. A psychotherapist trained in relationship trauma is prepared to offer a safe space as well as an objective disposition. His or her job is to guide people through pain while they are on the road to becoming their whole, healed selves. It is powerful to work with someone whose primary duty is to listen and help dissect the truth. Communicating with a person capable of supporting you in the journey of healing while sharing tools of empowerment can make a world of difference. Continue reading How Can Single Moms Heal After Domestic Violence?

The History (and Future) of Addiction Treatment

addiction support group therapy meeting

The fact that addiction, like other chronic diseases, can benefit from professional treatment isn’t something we’ve always known to be true. The roots of that understanding and its gradual evolution go back surprisingly far, however. While these do not follow a straight, linear progression, they offer some valuable lessons into what works best at improving recovery outcomes and where professional treatment is headed.

History’s Understanding of Addiction

The treatment legacy that today’s addiction professionals have inherited has helped to shed light on what works in improving recovery outcomes. For example, the concept of addiction as a disease — that alcoholism is an illness that can be medically treated — goes back quite a long way in our nation’s history. Continue reading The History (and Future) of Addiction Treatment

What Is Non-Suicidal Self-Injury?

cut bandage with "HELP" written on it

I remember the day I started self-injuring. It was January my senior year of high school. I was being sexually abused by a teacher and eventually I just snapped — I couldn’t handle anymore. When I got home that day, I grabbed a red-handled paring knife from the kitchen and slashed shallow cuts into my upper left arm until I counted 100. I needed some way to prove I had control of my body, to express the hard emotions I was feeling.

The relief from the pain, confusion, and distress was instant — it immediately calmed the chaos in my mind. Once I started, it was hard to stop. And so I found myself at 21 self-injuring to manage the hearings after reporting my abusive teacher. I was still self-injuring at 28 when I did an interview about my experience with perpetrators; grooming process of victims, and at 30 when I began processing 15 years worth of trauma. And finally, after 13 years of self-injuring, I was finally able to stop.

Through all of it, self-injury served as my friend, my relief, my secret sanctuary — but it also complicated my ability to cope with difficult emotions and to connect with other people. The damage is criss-crossed all over my arms in scars, messages of deep hurt, but also survival. Self-injury is both savior and monster, a complex way to deal with overwhelming emotions. Continue reading What Is Non-Suicidal Self-Injury?

Feeling Fall: A Mental Health Playlist

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Listening to music can boost our mental health and reduce anxiety, according to a meta analysis of hundreds of studies. We also use songs to reflect on changes in our lives, the world, and even the seasons.

Summer is fading from our minds and forecasts. As we move deeper into the fall, our moods fluctuate and new challenges arise. To give you something to play as you transition to the new season, we compiled this “Feeling Fall” playlist. Enjoy! Continue reading Feeling Fall: A Mental Health Playlist

Ask Anna: How Can I Pry My Husband Away from Social Media?

husband at table looking at smartphone ignoring wife

Talkspace is pleased to continue Ask Anna, a Question & Answer column featuring Anna Akbari, sociologist and author of “Startup Your Life: Hustle and Hack Your Way To Happiness.” Send your mental health questions for Anna to [email protected].

Dear Anna,

Before I start, I’d like to share that overall I am happy with my life. I love my husband and our two beautiful children. We have a wonderful life together, which makes this all the more confusing and difficult.

I feel like my marriage is strong for the most part. We love each other very much and respect one another. But there is a small problem (or at least what I perceive to be a problem). My husband spends most of his time on his phone. He’s constantly flipping through social media. I know he’s not doing anything wrong or dishonest on it; he will often sit right next to me and show me what he’s doing and who he’s speaking with! Continue reading Ask Anna: How Can I Pry My Husband Away from Social Media?

Who Bears The Mental Health Burden For Discussing Sexual Violence?

sexual violence survivor with stop written on hand

She was asking for it.

Boys will be boys.

What was she expecting dressed like that?

I’d bet you already guessed the topic these often-repeated phrases refer to — sexual violence.

Story after story on sexual assault, incest, rape, and abuse are written by survivors, explaining their situation ad nauseam to men and not letting them off the hook with “boys will be boys.” That, no, an unconscious drunk woman was not “asking for it,” and she was certainly not capable of giving consent to a sexual encounter. That wearing a revealing outfit also does not mean a woman was “looking for attention.” That “20 minutes of action” indeed merits steep criminal charges because a survivor’s life is invariably and monumentally altered by sexual violence — often for a lifetime.

Continue reading Who Bears The Mental Health Burden For Discussing Sexual Violence?

My Struggle With OCD: Quieting the Mind’s Commands

ocd woman stressed out thoughts buzzing around her head

I see that stage of my life as dark pages to be flipped quickly. I still consider it the toughest struggle I’ve ever been through and hope my challenges don’t get harder than being a young patient dealing with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder [OCD].

The symptoms first showed up during 10th grade. I had unusual thoughts instructing me to undertake certain actions. They were actually more like commands.

It seemed normal in the beginning, but these thoughts gradually increased. They became intense and repetitive, so repetitive it was distracting. I felt I had to obey the thoughts to stop them from recurring. As I yielded to a thought, obeying its command, it did shut up for a while, but only until another new one showed up in the same compulsive way. The thoughts followed one another in an endless loop. I couldn’t escape no matter how hard I tried.

The disorder got so severe that I sometimes wished for death, believing it was the only way to end the battle taking place in my mind. I lived in a state of perpetual mental exhaustion. Continue reading My Struggle With OCD: Quieting the Mind’s Commands

What Is Gaslighting?

man holding gaslight dark background

The details are still a little hazy. A girl was staying at my apartment for two weeks. I had initially met her online, and we talked everyday for months before I agreed to let her stay with me while she was visiting my city. I volunteered to be her tour guide. This turned out to be a mistake.

The visit got off to a rocky start when she constantly told me I was too quiet and I needed to talk more. She started blaming me for other things too. Her allergy to my cats. That she couldn’t find the apartment keys I had left with her. That I wasn’t taking her to see enough of the sites. In the back of my mind, I didn’t think all of this was my fault, but I kept apologizing and trying my hardest to accommodate anyway. I wanted her to like me.

Waking up one day, I’d definitely had too much to drink the night before. But not so much I couldn’t remember what happened. Right? This is when the girl told me I had supposedly locked her in the bathroom the night before, not letting her out and terrorizing her. What? Continue reading What Is Gaslighting?