Therapy for People of Color: Questions for Potential Therapists

latina woman client black woman therapist couch

Taking the step to start therapy isn’t an easy decision. There are barriers such as cost, access, and unfamiliarity with the process. This can be particularly daunting if you are a person of color, a group that has been chronically underserved by the therapy community.

One in five adults in the U.S. lives with mental illness in a given year. Within that, black and Hispanic Americans access mental health services at about half the rate of their white counterparts. Asian Americans utilize services at about one-third the rate of white Americans. It’s safe to say the mental health community is not meeting the needs of people of color.

If you are a person of color who is considering therapy, here are some questions you may want to keep in mind while you search for a potential therapist: Continue reading Therapy for People of Color: Questions for Potential Therapists

The History of Inhumane Mental Health Treatments

lobotomy brain diagram

Mental health treatment today is no walk in the park — from insurance companies denying coverage, to a lasting stigma, to the fact that the many of the most severely mentally ill among us to their own devices on the streets or relegated to prison. It’s an understatement to say that there is work left to be done. Yet, the inhumane history of mental health treatment reminds us how far we have already come.

Asylums

While terrifying mental health remedies can be traced back to prehistoric times, it’s the dawn of the asylum era in the mid-1700s that marks a period of some of the most inhumane mental health treatments. This is when asylums themselves became notorious warehouses for the mentally ill.

“The purpose of the earliest mental institutions was neither treatment nor cure, but rather the enforced segregation of inmates from society,” writes Jeffrey A. Lieberman in Shrinks: The Untold Story of Psychiatry. “The mentally ill were considered social deviants or moral misfits suffering divine punishment for some inexcusable transgression.” Continue reading The History of Inhumane Mental Health Treatments

Porn Addiction Therapy: What You Need to Know

man in bed at night smartphone

Seeking treatment for addiction to pornography is one of those uncomfortable topics people tend to avoid discussing. The issue is too big to ignore, though. More than 200,000 Americans are addicted to porn. The American Society of Addiction recognizes porn addiction as a legitimate health issue. Every day, mental health professionals use porn addiction therapy to help people relinquish their dependency and develop a healthy sexual mindset.

Porn addiction therapy often focuses on issues around shame, denial, loneliness, fear of intimacy, and sometimes social anxiety. It can shine a light on issues that “exist in the shadows,” said therapist L. Gordon Brewer, who has experience treating clients for sex and porn addiction. Brewer added that providing unconditional positive regard is especially important when helping people with addiction.

Therapists who treat clients for porn addiction commonly use cognitive behavioral therapy [CBT] to address the issues behind the addiction. This form of psychotherapy attempts to change the client’s beliefs by showing them how their thoughts are irrational or detrimental. They also help clients understand how their excessive consumption of pornography is preventing them from living a full life and having a healthy mindset about sex, relationships, and intimacy. Continue reading Porn Addiction Therapy: What You Need to Know

Therapist Tips for How to Feel Better When Life Gets Tough

therapist taking notes female client on couch

When life is challenging, we reflexively ask ourselves, “How can I feel better — fast?” At Talkspace many people connect with one of our therapists when they are going through a crisis and need someone to throw them a line. To offer some collective therapeutic wisdom, we asked therapists which pieces of advice they tend to give to clients who are going through a rough time.

Sometimes suffering gives you the opportunity to learn more about yourself, other people, and the world. That knowledge will ultimately help you make better choices and perhaps avoid situations that cause stress or heartbreak.

“When you know better, you do better,” said Talkspace therapist Chandricka Mose. “Look at the experience and take away the lesson you were meant to learn.” Continue reading Therapist Tips for How to Feel Better When Life Gets Tough

Mental Health Warriors: An Interview with Michael Brown

Michael Brown Talkspace headshot quote

As part of our commitment to help individuals continue their journey to mental health, happiness, and improved well-being, we are continuing to profile “Mental Health Warriors,” individuals who have been outspoken in their advocacy and support for mental health issues. This week, we caught up with Mental Health Coordinator for the UK’s National Police Chiefs’ Council, Seconded Police Inspector from the West Midlands Police, and “Mental Health Cop,” Michael Brown.

Talkspace: Mental health cop. Did you choose this path or did this path choose you?

Michael Brown: A bit of both! I got interested in why I had been given very little training on a topic that was so much a part of my work and after asking some difficult questions that didn’t have easy answers I was given a job to “sort it out.” Since then, I’ve repeatedly kept chipping away at issues around policing and mental health, including on social media (@mentalhealthcop on Twitter and my blog www.mentalhealthcop.wordpress.com).

Three years ago, the UK College of Policing and the National Police Chief’s Council came knocking on my door to ask if I’d work on it full-time as a national coordinator for UK policing on mental health. I think the US and the UK have a lot to learn from each other. Continue reading Mental Health Warriors: An Interview with Michael Brown

Parents, Your Mental Health Is Everything. Don’t Neglect It.

mom stressed baby crying desk

In my 20’s, I diligently tended to my mental health. I went to therapy weekly, exercised daily, and journaled all my thoughts and feelings. This all did wonders to help me manage my anxiety and panic disorder.

Then, at 28, I had a baby, and to say that things began to slide in terms of my mental health care routine would be a huge understatement.

I think it’s natural and necessary for parents to push their needs aside when they have children. At first, I found motherhood all consuming, the power of the love for my child like nothing I had ever experienced before. That feeling that you would literally lay your life down for your child is real and not an exaggeration for most of us parents.

And beyond those primal feelings of love and protection, parenthood is a 24 hour job, the needs of our children — especially when they are young — endless and unrelenting. And with parents stretched so thin in terms of finances, childcare, and general support, it is understandable that so many of us end up putting our needs at the very bottom of the list. Continue reading Parents, Your Mental Health Is Everything. Don’t Neglect It.

The History of Online Therapy

rotary phone smartphone

Online therapy has many definitions. Depending on which one you use, its history has a different beginning.

Most of the people who have catalogued the history of online therapy use broader definitions. Some historians believe it began during the 1972 International Conference on Computers when Stanford and UCLA staff used linked computers to demonstrate a psychotherapy session. This wasn’t a real psychotherapy session with a licensed therapist and — unlike the modern internet — was limited to that small network of computers. It did, however, at least demonstrate the idea of online therapy.

If you include therapy via the phone as part of online therapy, the history starts even earlier. Records of the first private call between a psychotherapist and client are lost in confidentiality. Nonetheless, it is clear people were using the phone to provide mental health support as early as the 1960s. Continue reading The History of Online Therapy

What I Wish Someone Had Told Me About How Therapy Actually Works

Good Will Hunting Matt Damon Robin Williams park scene

The first time I pulled my car up to a therapist’s office, I had no idea what the experience would be like. The only images I had were from “Good Will Hunting” and “Equus,” both great movies but ones that don’t accurately portray therapy. I was skeptical, worried it would be a waste of time and money.

After years of chatting with therapists, other therapy-goers and people who were on the fence, I learned many people who consider therapy feel similarly before they commit. Therapy is a different for everyone, but there are common myths and misconceptions that aren’t true, ones that prevent people from receiving the benefits I have.

To break this stigma barrier, I reached out to therapists and drew upon my own experience. Keep reading to learn the truth about therapy.

Continue reading What I Wish Someone Had Told Me About How Therapy Actually Works

A Millennial’s Guide to Mental Illness in the Workplace

millennials meeting open office

I was 21 the first time I had a nervous breakdown at work. It was my first job out of college, working retail at a flagship shoe store in Manhattan. One task was to stand in the doorway, smile, and greet customers. Sounds easy enough, right? Usually it was, but other times, when I was going through depressive phases or masking an anxiety attack, forcing a smile felt like having teeth pulled.

I’d stand fidgeting with my name tag, quietly saying hello to customers, giving my best close-lipped smile, trying my best to look charming without breaking down. A new manager-in-training approached me, and I knew some criticism was coming. They rarely approached employees to say, “Good work.” I was right. He told me to speak louder and smile.

Tears started welling and I speed-walked downstairs to the bathroom. Slumping down to the floor, I sobbed. I cried so hard I thought I was going to vomit. Faking happiness for eight hours a day was nearly impossible, and I didn’t have the energy to pretend I was OK for a second longer. Once I’d gotten rid of most most of the tears, I went back upstairs and asked an older manager if we could talk in his office. Continue reading A Millennial’s Guide to Mental Illness in the Workplace

Sleeping With Anxiety: 5 Tips to Stop Sharing a Bed With Your Worries

woman in bed anxiety light on

Despite advances in neuroscience during the past several decades, sleep continues to remain mostly a mystery. We know we need it as much as water, food and air. We can go weeks without eating food, but what would happen if you went weeks without sleep? Maybe you have. Various degrees of insomnia, and official sleep disorders, are serious conditions. But, what about periodic anxieties that are significant enough to disrupt our sleep. Missing one night of sleep can disrupt our normal biorhythms enough to disrupt the next night’s, and the next!

Anxiety, for the most part, originates in the mind. The body sensations and feelings we have surrounding anxiety occur because of the psychosomatic nature of our mind-body system. In other words, when we think about situations, even if subconsciously, that appear to be in some way a threat or potential danger, hormones and chemicals are secreted from glands which then give rise to the physiological experiences of tension, tightness, constriction.

These are useful in fight or flight situations, which we believe, at a subconscious level, exist — even if they don’t. The perceived threat or danger is mostly psychological and consists of “what if” statements and pictures in the mind, that are at best unpleasant, and at most, lifestyle threatening. Most all, anxiety is about a future that is, factually, unknown. Anxiety is based on a lot of conjecture.

If you’re too anxious to sleep, there are things you can do to help set up an environment, both internal and external, more conducive to sleep. Consider these tips: Continue reading Sleeping With Anxiety: 5 Tips to Stop Sharing a Bed With Your Worries