What is a “Psych Evaluation?”

Diagram on a head

If you are new to therapy or are exploring different options for treatment, it’s natural to have questions about first steps. A common, but misunderstood initial step is the psychological or “psych” evaluation.

It may sound intimidating, but a psych evaluation is a simple way for your therapist or health care provider to understand what you’re going through at the moment. Continue reading What is a “Psych Evaluation?”

I Love Yoga, but Still Think Therapy is the Answer

Sign that says reserved for yoga

I would not be the person I am today without yoga.

When I first started practicing yoga, it was one of the only things I did just for me. I cherished every minute of it. Not being responsible for anyone or anything but my own well-being felt like a luxury. “Yoga is a great form of self-care,” Rachel O’Neill, Ph.D. LPCC-S, and Ohio-based Talkspace therapist said. Having been an overachiever my entire life, the idea of self-care was brand new to me. Yoga felt like the perfect combination of doing something that felt productive while also giving my brain a much-needed break.

“One thing that I really love about yoga is the emphasis on mindfulness (i.e. being fully present and focused on the moment),” O’Neill added. “In my work with clients, I often incorporate those same mindfulness principles into the counseling sessions.” Continue reading I Love Yoga, but Still Think Therapy is the Answer

7 Effective Thought-Stopping Techniques for Anxiety

Woman covering her right eye

Anxiety is one of the most common issues I hear about from my clients, one that many people have on a regular, sometimes daily, basis. Of course, anxiety is a normal part of the human experience, and it can be a healthy, biological reaction to environmental stressors.

The problem is when that reaction switches from one of manageable, temporary worry or stress to heightened, intolerable panic. The latter can interfere with work, social activities, and personal relationships. Sometimes anxiety can make it incredibly difficult to function as we normally do, and this is a very scary and uncomfortable feeling.

One of the most effective ways to curb anxiety in the moment is thought-stopping — a strategy that interrupts catastrophic thinking to allow our minds a few moments of clarity to think through the anxiety. Here are seven ways to do it: Continue reading 7 Effective Thought-Stopping Techniques for Anxiety

5 Ways to Strengthen Your Support System

House on edge of cliff

When you think of a support system, you might imagine yourself as a character in Friends or How I Met Your Mother. You and your five best buddies, hanging out at your favorite coffee house or bar, ranting about your day. That’s supportive — right?

Yes, friendships are an important element of your support system. But the roots must go deeper, touching both your personal and professional lives and providing a wide range of outlets if one element isn’t working. For example, maybe you need support because your friends are at odds — having multiple resources helps ease your stress.

Science says a strong support system is essential, and can even help improve health outcomes. If your own network struggling, here’s how to beef it up. Continue reading 5 Ways to Strengthen Your Support System

3 Ways to Stop an Overreaction When You’re in the Middle of One

Atomic bomb

We’d gone through this before. I knew we had.

I was staring at a co-worker with a flabbergasted look on my face wondering how a pivotal project had encountered a significant delay…again. I could feel my blood pressure rising as my heart raced, propelling me toward a full-blown melt down. I started to formulate my retort, laced with a condescending tone, but after a few words left my mouth, I caught myself.

In the end, I didn’t completely overreact, even though the situation had me dangling perilously close to the point of no return. Here’s how you can do the same: Continue reading 3 Ways to Stop an Overreaction When You’re in the Middle of One

The Difference Between Psychology and Psychiatry (and How They Work Together)

Two people talking

“Oh, my daughter is a psychologist too!” my seatmate gushed when I told him that I was a psychiatrist. As I settled into a long-haul overnight flight, I didn’t feel pressed at that moment to highlight the differences between the two oft-confused professions.

Indeed, ask the average person what a “shrink” is or to differentiate between the roles of a psychologist and a psychiatrist, and expect to receive a host of different answers.

While both psychiatry and psychology deal with the assessment and treatment of individuals with a wide-range of mental health needs, there are important differences worth noting between the two fields as well as their practitioners. It’s especially important for the individual left wondering: should I see a psychologist (or another kind of psychotherapist) or a psychiatrist? Continue reading The Difference Between Psychology and Psychiatry (and How They Work Together)

7 Ways You Can Help Raise Mental Health Awareness

three happy people

Millions of Americans are affected by mental health conditions every year. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, approximately 1 in 5 adults in the U.S. — 43.8 million, or 18.5 percent — experiences mental illness in a given year; and we know this is increasingly an issue with America’s youth.

While there are effective treatments available, many individuals with known mental health issues never seek help from a professional due to stigma, discrimination, a lack of resources, or a combination of all three. Even if you don’t struggle with mental illness, you have the opportunity to inspire others to raise awareness and take part in the sharing of information, tools, and support for mental health issues. You can make a legitimate difference and help change the narrative from negative to one of positive affirmation. Continue reading 7 Ways You Can Help Raise Mental Health Awareness

Are You Contributing to Other People’s Mental Health Issues?

Hands pulling against woman's face

You may wonder: Is your mental health dependent on your neighbor’s (and vice versa)? In some ways, yes — there is, in a way, a mental health ripple effect.

Just as when a pebble is thrown into water and causes ripples, your words, actions, and feelings affect those around you, who in turn affect those around them, and so on. Continue reading Are You Contributing to Other People’s Mental Health Issues?

What ‘I Don’t Feel Good’ Means For A Person With Mental Illness

Silhouette of person with head down

I have dealt with generalized anxiety and panic disorder since I was about 10 years old. Like many people who battle mental illness, I have my good days, and I’m grateful for them. But I have other days, weeks, and months where my mental illness incapacitates me to the point where it becomes very difficult to function.

But I’m good at hiding it. Sometimes the only words that come out of my mouth during those dark times are “I don’t feel good.” I say it to my kids, my friends, my co-workers, even my husband. It’s not that I don’t want to be candid about my struggles, but sometimes it feels too heavy and painful to share what is actually going on. Continue reading What ‘I Don’t Feel Good’ Means For A Person With Mental Illness

What Does it Mean to “Get Better?”

Smiling face painted onto tree

For six years I struggled with an eating disorder before making the decision to pursue treatment. After that it still took another year and a half before I considered myself to be in recovery. I didn’t wake up one day and realize that I no longer had an eating disorder anymore; it was a slow abatement of the features of the disorder, which plagued me for so many years, as a result of a combination of nutrition counseling, support groups, psychiatric medication, therapy, and resilience.

Because recovery in mental health is an ongoing process, it can be difficult to recognize what it actually looks like. Sometimes recovery happens so gradually that we’re not even aware that our minds and bodies — because our bodies can also suffer when we are struggling with a mental-health issue — are in the process of healing. That can make it difficult to be able to answer the question: “how will I know when I’m actually better?” Continue reading What Does it Mean to “Get Better?”