How To Ask For Help with Mental Health Care

Woman looking away surrounded by helpful hands

When I first saw a therapist at age 19, I hated the idea. Less than a year out of a sexually abusive relationship with a predatory high school teacher, I was determined not to let that affect me. I wasn’t “crazy” and I wasn’t weak. I didn’t need help, and I wouldn’t ask for help. Most of all, I didn’t want my parents to know I struggled — that would require vulnerability — and I wasn’t about to let anybody in. I could manage on my own.

Meanwhile, I wrote long anonymous emails back and forth with an organization called Samaritans all the way over in the U.K., because I wanted to die, I self-injured regularly, and I simply couldn’t imagine I had a future at all. As far as I was concerned, my life was already over. I desperately wanted to feel better, but if I asked for help, I thought I would be giving up.

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Checking in on Your Mental Health Resolutions

compass facing a lake at sunset

We are several weeks into 2018 and this is as good as time as any to check in with yourself about your mental health goals. It can be difficult to begin and maintain progress through your goals, especially this time of year, as we all try to regain our footing with our day-to-day schedules and responsibilities.

That’s why it’s incredibly important to take some time to reflect and re-group to see where you are with your mental health resolutions. Taking time to assess your progress is an invaluable part of the goal-setting process. Moving forward takes routine, evaluation, and consistent checking in.

So, how are you doing with your goals? Here are a few questions that you may want to begin by asking yourself.

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How Therapists Keep Their Clients Accountable

Coffee cup and calendar for accountability

Working with a therapist is one of the best things that you can do to better your mental health. It is a highly individualized process and can look different from person to person. This is what makes therapy feel so safe and productive for so many people.

At the same time, there often comes a time when you’re working on particular goals in therapy and need to be held accountable for making progress. Staying on task, and being accountable for your progress, is an important part of the therapy process — but it can be tricky territory when you need help staying on track. Some people may feel ashamed to ask for help, others may be resistant to the thought of being held accountable.

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4 Surprising Reasons People Who Aren’t Mentally Ill Go to Therapy

therapist with notepad and client on couch

What would be your initial reaction if a friend said, “I can’t meet up. I have to go to therapy.”? Chances are your mind would jump to questions like:

  • Do they have a mental illness?
  • Is their marriage falling apart?
  • Are they recovering from addiction?
  • Are there underlying family abuse or emotional issues?

None of these are particularly positive. In fact, any variation of the word “therapy” tends to lead to an unfairly negative connotation. There are dozens of different forms of therapy, however, ranging from psychodynamic therapy for depression to existential therapy for helping people find meaning in life. While many approaches are designed to relieve the suffering of those with various disorders, there are a handful of forms of therapy that are geared toward simply improving everyday living situations. Continue reading 4 Surprising Reasons People Who Aren’t Mentally Ill Go to Therapy

4 Reasons to Try Therapy at Least Once

male therapist woman client couch

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

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 Therapy Helps You Recover from Childhood Trauma and Abuse

woman client therapist talking

If you experienced trauma or abuse during childhood, you might wonder if you should seek therapy. But maybe you are too busy to commute to appointments. You don’t even have any time to feel everything, much less talk about it.

Then there are the plethora of worries people sometimes have when they consider working with a therapist. You might think, “What if I end up feeling worse? What if the therapist thinks I don’t have any problems? Am I exaggerating my experiences?”

Then you start wondering why everyone else seems so happy, while your head swims with worries and you slog through each day. You are not alone, and there are ways to feel better. Continue reading How Therapy Helps You Recover from Childhood Trauma and Abuse

Why College Students Should Fight the Stigma of Therapy

female college student on couch with therapist

Fall is fast approaching. The air is getting crisper, and the back to school ads are out in full force. College students are stepping onto campuses all over the country, some for the first time. There is a palpable buzz of excitement as dorms fill up once more.

But college can also be a stressful experience. For some students the feelings of anticipation are overshadowed by homesickness, worry, self-doubt and sadness.

Whether you’re heading back to college for your senior year or you’re an incoming freshman, this time of year brings out a pretty intense range of emotions. College is a period of major self-discovery. While it can be thrilling, it’s often stressful as well. Some students are worried about missing friends and family, nervous about moving away from home, excited for a new experience but dreading starting classes.

For students who are nearing the end of their college careers, the future looms ominously. It can be difficult to wrap their heads around it all. Continue reading Why College Students Should Fight the Stigma of Therapy

What If No One Likes the New Me After Therapy?

businessman co-workers excluding gossiping

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

woman texting smartphone sweater

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