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

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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

‘Snowflake’ – A New Insult for People Who Go to Therapy

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Since the end of the 2016 election and the beginning of Trump’s presidency, there is one insult that has become increasingly frequent: “snowflake,” a slang term for an overly sensitive, politically correct, stereotypically liberal person (more often millennials than people of all ages). These days there are many conservative Internet-goers and Trump supporters who use it to put down or provoke anyone they disagree with.

We’re not involved in politics, yet people often throw this word our way. If you’re familiar with Talkspace, it might be because you saw one of our ads on Facebook. These ads are great for reminding people they have the opportunity to work with a therapist in a way that might be more affordable and convenient for them.

The only problem with the ads is they reach some mean-spirited people across the Internet. Some of these people leave rude comments. They insult those who are considering trying Talkspace. We frequently see the declaration that anyone who uses Talkspace or goes to therapy is a snowflake. Continue reading ‘Snowflake’ – A New Insult for People Who Go to Therapy

4 Important Life Lessons I Learned in Therapy

therapy artboard 4 heads

I’ve always been a supporter of therapy. We’re so close to our problems and stressors. Talking with someone from the outside is often the only way to make sense of it all.

I recently saw one therapist for a little more than a year to work on one issue. After only a few sessions it was clear this issue wasn’t what I thought it was. It had been acting as a cover for many years, masking problems I didn’t realize I had.

We were talking about a few specific concerns in each session. Nonetheless, I found that the following four lessons are actually applicable in many other areas of life. Consider how you can use them to work through problems of your own. Continue reading 4 Important Life Lessons I Learned in Therapy

7 Fears You Might Have About Couples Counseling

couple in therapy with therapist

Couples counseling can strike fear into the hearts of many people. Couples might picture a therapist who judges them, allies with one partner over the other, gives couples unworkable or fluffy “solutions” to their problems or who means well but is a waste of time and money.

It’s unfortunate that so many couples feel this way. As a couples counselor, I have seen how couples can benefit greatly from counseling. Here is a rundown of some couples counseling fears and myths versus reality. It will help you decide whether or not to start counseling with your partner. Continue reading 7 Fears You Might Have About Couples Counseling

‘Why Pay So Much for a Therapist When I Can Buy Self-Help Books?’

woman desk self-help book coffee

As the manager of a blog for an online therapy company, I frequently encourage my friends, family members and acquaintances to work with a psychotherapist for the first time. Psychotherapy improved my mental health and has helped me achieve much of what I want, so I try to give them the same opportunity.

Unfortunately some of them dismiss it. One of the most commons rationales for refusal is,

“Why would I pay so much for a therapist when I can buy a bunch of self-help books?”

Continue reading ‘Why Pay So Much for a Therapist When I Can Buy Self-Help Books?’

This Therapist Debunks 4 Popular Myths About Going to Therapy

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Therapy with a licensed professional is becoming more mainstream. Thanks to online therapy, millions more people are trying therapy for the first time.

There are, however, still some popular myths that often prevent people from going to therapy. As a licensed therapist who has helped clients move past these myths, I wanted to take some time to point them out and debunk them. Continue reading This Therapist Debunks 4 Popular Myths About Going to Therapy

What Are People In Therapy Saying About Life Post-Trump Victory?

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As a therapist, I experienced a variety of client reactions following the election results on November 8. Some clients were happy with the results. Others were fraught with intense anxiety and fear over what the next four years would be like for the United States.

Some of the country experienced shock at the election results. A theme I keep hearing from clients is the realization of such stark differences in viewpoints across the country.

For many those viewpoints are different than those in their immediate surroundings. These viewpoints are different than those people have seen in their social media feeds.

Everyone is in shock. The impact, however, is revealing itself in different ways. Continue reading What Are People In Therapy Saying About Life Post-Trump Victory?

How Therapy Can Help People Cope With Terminal Illnesses

woman headscarf hospital bed

When people have a terminal illness and are journeying through their final days, they need lots of love and support from friends and family. Sometimes this isn’t enough, though.

Loved ones don’t necessarily have the skills or time to help someone come to terms with mortality. They might not know how to assist in making meaning of life as it is coming to an end.

This is when a psychotherapist or grief counselor can be invaluable. These mental health professionals have the skills to make patients and their loved ones as comfortable as possible during the end of a terminal illness. Continue reading How Therapy Can Help People Cope With Terminal Illnesses

How Therapy Subtly Reveals Whether You Have an Eating Disorder

woman client on couch with therapist

As a therapist who specializes in eating disorders and body image issues, I have worked with clients who begin therapy and — as they make progress — show signs of having an eating disorder. This doesn’t happen in an obvious way, though. To make the diagnosis, I analyze what they’re saying and look for subtle signs.

To illustrate this point, I am going to share two different client scenarios below. Each of them may seem like a typical case of anxiety, mild depression and struggles with self-confidence and lack of happiness. With a closer look through the lens of an eating disorder therapist, these two stories take on different meanings. Continue reading How Therapy Subtly Reveals Whether You Have an Eating Disorder