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

The Experience of In-Person Versus Online Therapy

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The majority of clients at Talkspace are trying therapy for the first time. With only online therapy as a frame of reference, they can’t draw comparisons to in-person treatment. This fact demonstrates, however, that online therapy removes barriers — high cost and inconvenience — that typically deter people from seeking professional mental health support.

Nonetheless, many users have extensive experience inside a therapist’s office. Some commuted to weekly therapy sessions for years before switching to online therapy. Others have continued their in-person treatment and used Talkspace as a complimentary service.

To illustrate what it is like to navigate the differences between in-person and online therapy, we surveyed our clients who had been open about their experiences with both. Here is what they taught us: Continue reading The Experience of In-Person Versus Online Therapy

How to Cope with Mental Health During Natural Disasters

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Our hearts are heavy with sadness for all those affected by the unthinkable damage caused by Hurricane Harvey. At Talkspace we strongly believe in solidarity and kindness as keys to a healthy community and society. This guiding principle is why we have joined the Hurricane Harvey relief efforts by sharing our resources in any way possible.

In addition to a donation to a local food bank, we are offering a free, therapist-led support group on Facebook for those affected by this disaster. We hope this group will provide a safe space to grieve losses and process complex and overwhelming emotions. This step can help begin the healing process and let people know they are not alone.

When a natural disaster like Hurricane Harvey ravages the land, thousands of people lose their homes. News organizations send hundreds of photos and videos that show the extent of the destruction. Reporters and citizens document every flooded street, toppled building or crowded shelter.

But there is another type of damage that is more difficult to see and quantify: the impact on mental health. Victims of natural disasters often experience trauma and grief that plagues them long after they have found a new home. The stress of fighting for survival can make people more vulnerable to developing mental health conditions, including depression and post traumatic stress disorder [PTSD]. Continue reading How to Cope with Mental Health During Natural Disasters

How Social Media Has Changed the Way We Grieve

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A few years ago, Gale’s mother passed away after a grueling battle with cancer. As the lone Atheist in a devout religious family, Gale felt isolated and unable to grieve in the way she wanted. The inundation of spiritual rhetoric from relatives made it difficult for her to celebrate her mother’s life.

To find a place where she could speak freely, Gale searched for support groups for secular people who wanted to grieve without any pressure to pray or consider religious concepts like God and the afterlife. She found two secular grief groups on Facebook and has been satisfied with the online community.

“I would still feel almost entirely alone if it were not for these people,” Gale said of her community members. “I feel heard and understood, and it’s not less real to me if that understanding and camaraderie happens online.” Continue reading How Social Media Has Changed the Way We Grieve

What If No One Likes the New Me After Therapy?

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When I started therapy, it seemed like it was only about feeling better, expelling the poison of my depression and anxiety, and learning to manage my symptoms. After a few months, however, I realized I was changing bit by bit, becoming a better version of myself.

The first time I noticed was when this editor marked a draft of a piece I had been working hard on with a bunch of negative comments, some of which attacked me personally. Once I finished reviewing her criticisms, I began fuming and typing a defensive reply. The desire for retribution briefly overtook my ability to think logically. All I could think about was making her rue the day she insulted me.

Right when I was about to send a response that surely would have made the situation worse, I stopped. To calm down, I took some deep breaths and left my desk for a bit. It was a beautiful summer day and my office was near Bryant Park in New York, so I took a walk, my rage dissipating with each step. When I returned, I was able to reply politely and use the feedback to improve my writing. The outcome was refreshing because the old me would have gone on a digital rampage. I was surprised that self-improvement was actually a major component of working with a therapist. Continue reading What If No One Likes the New Me After Therapy?

Returning to Therapy After a Break

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Like any journey, your therapeutic journey may have starts and stops, highs and lows, departures and returns. Sometimes unexpected changes in life force you to pause the investment in your mental health. Or maybe you wanted a break to focus on another part of your life.

Once you are ready to return to therapy, you might wonder how you should go about it. What should you say to your therapist? Perhaps something to the effect of “I’m back” doesn’t seem like enough.

Ultimately, the therapist is not going to judge or reprimand you for taking a break. Even if you ghosted on your therapist, he or she will most likely approach with curiosity, not anger or criticism. Therapy is a place of acceptance, and no amount of absence can change that. Continue reading Returning to Therapy After a Break

How to Maintain Your Motivation While Depressed

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Most of us take action because we believe it will bring about a concrete benefit or result in future happiness. These prospects are what motivate us. Clinical depression, however, can change your brain in a way that makes it difficult to experience a sense of pleasure or reward. When depression makes you unbearably sad, numb, or exhausted, you might not feel like there is a reason to do anything. If nothing has satisfied you lately, you might think, “What’s the point?”

Fortunately there are mental techniques and strategies you can employ to gradually regain the motivation needed to live a full life. You can try them on your own or by working with a therapist. The latter, however, will most likely yield better, faster results.

Below are some strategies recommended by therapists who have worked with clients to restore their motivation during severe depression. Most of these solutions focus on incremental steps, so change is more manageable and easier to commit to. Continue reading How to Maintain Your Motivation While Depressed

Talkspace Customer Support: When Mental Health Is On the Line

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In most companies, customer support is relatively simple and the stakes are low. The goal is to resolve issues that may arise with a product or service. Customer support representatives receive “tickets” that contain technical issues or complaints from customers. The reps respond and solve the problem. When necessary, they forward the ticket to another employee or “escalate” the issue by involving supervisors.

Even when there is a persistent technical problem or an upset customer, not much is truly on the line. Customers may be irritated if they need to wait a few extra days on a shipment or refund, but they’re OK.

Now imagine if a ticket could contain anything from anxiety to depression. The Talkspace customer support team works with these sensitive issues every day. Continue reading Talkspace Customer Support: When Mental Health Is On the Line

When You’re Not Sure What To Say to Your Online Therapist

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Therapy can be super awkward. And necessarily so if you’re discussing difficult material. Even if you are talkative and gregarious, you might not know what to say during certain parts of your therapeutic journey. This can be even more of a challenge during online texting therapy because you don’t get your therapist’s visual cues that might prompt you to say something more on a topic.

To help you continue therapy without hesitation when you’re feeling stuck, shy, or just don’t know what to discuss, we created this guide for communicating with therapists online. Use it as a reference whenever you draw a blank or aren’t sure what to say.

Starting the Conversation With Your Therapist

Your therapist will most likely ask several questions to get the ball rolling. Nonetheless, there will be times during the beginning of therapy when you might need to start the conversation. If you can’t think of anything, try one or more of the following: Continue reading When You’re Not Sure What To Say to Your Online Therapist

Porn Addiction Therapy: What You Need to Know

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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