How You Know When You’re Ready For Therapy

male client therapist couch

It’s a natural reaction — when something good happens to us, we want to share that experience with others. Some of my friends had this reaction after their first experiences with therapy. They would recommend it casually, as if it were the new restaurant down the block.

“You’ve got to try it.”

“Everyone should be in therapy at least once.”

It was a life-changing experience for them, and their hearts were in the right place when they suggested it to those who would listen. I had harbored an interest in therapy and had even made psychology the focus of my undergraduate studies. I would listen with interest to their stories, but my response would always be the same.

“One day, but not right now.” Continue reading How You Know When You’re Ready For Therapy

How to Ask Your Therapist For Changes

woman on couch with therapist

When Michelle started therapy with Talkspace, she was happy with how it was going. Her therapist, Rachel, generally reiterated what Michelle said and then asked some questions to dig into the issues.

At first this style suited Michelle, and she was making progress. After a few weeks, however, Michelle felt the therapy had become stale.

“I was feeling frustrated by all the questions and really wanted something more actionable from her,” she wrote in her review of Talkspace.

Then Michelle remembered what Rachel told her at the beginning of their work: “Tell me how you feel things are going so this can be beneficial to you.” Following Rachel’s instructions, Michelle communicated her concerns. Rachel responded by offering actionable mental health strategies. Continue reading How to Ask Your Therapist For Changes

When Does Therapy Start ‘Working?’

woman client couch therapist

Ashley Laderer remembers exactly when therapy started working for her, the first time she could feel its benefits without any doubts or skepticism. The healing began with a single, surprising word: “lumpy.”

During her initial sessions Laderer constantly felt nauseous and had anxiety about vomiting.

“My therapist was like, ‘We need to stop giving the nausea so much power. Let’s make it less powerful,’” Laderer recalled.

Rather than saying she felt nauseous or had nausea, her therapist suggested using “lumpy” to describe what she was experiencing.

“At first it seemed so silly and I always forgot to use the word,” Laderer said. “But then in session I would always say ‘lumpy’ instead of nauseous.”

Shortly after, Laderer felt significantly better about her nausea and anxiety. She recognized this as a result of therapy. Continue reading When Does Therapy Start ‘Working?’

I Actually Enjoy Going to Therapy

man smiling holding phone

When I worked with a therapist for the first time, I did not imagine it was something I would ever enjoy. Part of it was the way I started. My parents nagged me into going. After doctors were unable to diagnose or treat my sleep deprivation, my mom suggested it might be related to mental health and that seeing a therapist could help. After months of resisting her recommendations, I finally booked an appointment.

At first I perceived it as the mental health equivalent of eating healthy foods that tasted terrible, going to the dentist, or getting a physical. It was an unpleasant chore, but it couldn’t hurt.

The initial months were difficult and painful. My therapist and I discovered I had constructed a subconscious system of negative beliefs to cope with the pain of living with undiagnosable, painful, relentless, and stressful health problems. Rather than protecting me, this system had poisoned my mind and exacerbated my physical issues. Continue reading I Actually Enjoy Going to Therapy

What Is a Mental Health Counselor?

mental health counselor client couch

The basic definition of a mental health counselor is simple. Understanding all of what the term can mean, however, is more complicated.

Mental health counselors are licensed professionals who help people manage and overcome mental and emotional disorders and problems with family and other relationships, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. They communicate with clients to understand their problems and develop strategies to improve their lives.

Depending on the context, “mental health counselor” can refer to a specific license rather than the actual work. Mental health professionals can earn the proper mental health counselor license, but their daily work might not involve counseling. Before or after their clinical work, many become administrators, educators, or consultants. Nonetheless, most professionals who advertise themselves as mental health counselors provide mental health support as their primary source of income. Continue reading What Is a Mental Health Counselor?

I Wasn’t in Therapy as a Kid, But I Should’ve Been

teen girl couch therapist

While Talkspace is not available to people under 18-years-old, we recognize the importance of providing support for the parents of children with mental health issues.

As an adolescent in high school, I didn’t feel right.

I was always angry and miserable. I felt overwhelmingly sad and hopeless and alone. I spent an unnerving amount of time thinking about suicide. I would punch walls until my knuckles bled. I would have increasingly frequent mental breakdowns.

But I didn’t know why. And I didn’t know what to do about it.

Nobody I knew voiced that they felt similarly and I didn’t hear of anyone feeling extremely sad for no apparent reason. I hadn’t even heard of anyone I knew killing themselves. I thought the word “depressed” was simply a synonym for sad. I didn’t have an explanation for what was going on in my head. I felt completely trapped, with no one to talk to, no one who would understand.

Because I didn’t understand myself and couldn’t put words, terms, or definitions to how I felt, I would have regular panic attacks. At night when gloomy and confusing thoughts would take over, I’d sob and shake and sweat, my heart racing. I didn’t have an understanding of what was happening. I thought I was insane. Continue reading I Wasn’t in Therapy as a Kid, But I Should’ve Been

I’m Glad I Sent My Son to Therapy

boy couch female therapist

While Talkspace is not available to people under 18-years-old, we recognize the importance of providing support for the parents of children with mental health issues.

When he was six-years-old, I began noticing that something was a little off with my son, Alex. It was a nervousness and uneasiness — a caution that’s not typical of what should be a rambunctious, energetic first grader. At first I wrote it off as him being shy or an introvert like me. But by the time he was nine, I realized something deeper was going on. His anxiety was distressing, so we decided to seek professional help.

As a mental health nurse practitioner, I prescribe medications to adults on a daily basis. With my son, however, my husband and I took great pause in pursuing a medication regimen for him and putting pills in such a tiny body. Medications help for some people, along with appropriate lifestyle changes. Knowing the incredible efficacy of cognitive behavioral therapy in treating anxiety disorders, however, we decided to pursue this route instead. Continue reading I’m Glad I Sent My Son to Therapy

My Childhood Experience in Therapy

teen boy couch therapist

While Talkspace is not available to people under 18-years-old, we recognize the importance of providing support for the parents of children with mental health issues.

I’m no stranger to therapy and mental health help. Long before I faced my own mental health issues, my mother passed down stories of my grandmother, who spent most of her life battling the demons of drug-induced psychosis and what, in retrospect, seems to have been borderline personality disorder.

Later, my mother also opened up about her own struggles with depression, anxiety, and the post-traumatic stress she carried from her abusive childhood. Likewise, my oldest sister, my father, and many of my family friends talked frankly about their issues.

Naturally, this has a downside: there’s nothing like being six-years-old and realizing everybody around you has some serious issues. But it also offers some benefits. Mainly, I didn’t have to deal with the stigma when the time came for me to seek help for my own problems.

As you’ll see, by the time I was facing true despair, I’d already had years of experience with mental health professionals. My story will enlighten you on the experience of seeing a therapist while you’re still growing up and what we can accomplish for our children. Continue reading My Childhood Experience in Therapy

Therapy Dogs: How They Improve Our Mental Health

puppies sniffing flowers

I am not sure what it is about dogs, but they seem to possess a sixth sense when it comes to knowing when owners are going through an emotionally difficult time.
I once owned a dog called Molly. She was a mix between a Labrador Retriever and an Afghan Hound. Molly was an enthusiastic dog who loved nothing more than to play and was a deeply affectionate animal. She lived for 17 wonderful years.

I have especially fond memories of Molly because she got me through some of my most challenging times after giving birth to my son. If you suffer from postpartum depression, I am sure you can appreciate that getting even a small amount of relief is better than getting none at all.

Recalling those memories with Molly has given me the motivation to carry out some research into the therapeutic benefits dogs have on people who are ill or suffering from depression. Continue reading Therapy Dogs: How They Improve Our Mental Health

Therapy and Becoming the Person You Want to Be

building blocks domino effect stop

As a counselor, I am usually the one who asks the questions. I often joke that I get paid for each question I ask. That’s why I ask so many good questions.

Recently a client asked me a perplexingly simple question I didn’t have an answer for.

My client previously discussed how she believes her family is “dysfunctional.” We then talked about the word, it felt like a psycho babble cuss-word. That is, when you are mad at someone, you call them dysfunctional. The word has taken on many meanings in our culture, including someone who is:

  • Unable to handle life
  • Poor at relationships and intimacy
  • Being an emotional mess
  • Not normal
  • Not like the rest of us

As a therapist I confront this concept every time it comes up in conversation. It is a word that creates a wasteland of comparison, judgment, shame, and the conclusion that we are a messed up, abnormal person. Continue reading Therapy and Becoming the Person You Want to Be