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

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

white snowflakes blue background

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?’