A Day in the Life of a Talkspace Therapist: Samantha White

Samantha White Talkspace Therapist Author

In this series we look at a day in the lives of our therapists. Their stories illustrate the joys and challenges of dedicating one’s life to helping others improve their mental health and cope with mental illness.

7:30 a.m.

I awaken to a chorus of birds chirping, singing riotously, endlessly. The windows are closed and we don’t have any pet birds, but for the first minute or so I believe I am hearing the lovely music of birds in the treetops. Eventually I remember that it’s the ringtone of my iPhone, and I roll over and hit “Snooze.” This happens a few more times until I’m ready to put my feet on the floor, sit up on the bed, and admire the view through the wall-to-wall window of palm trees and sky.

8:30 a.m.

Returned from my morning walk, I park my specialized orthopedic walker in the dining alcove. I’ve been using it as a mobility aid for about six years now, since my arthritis, fibromyalgia, and COPD overtook me and I became disabled. Like the commercial says, I love my walker. I named it Dolly. Without it, I’d be unable to walk more than thirty yards. With it, I can go almost anywhere! Continue reading A Day in the Life of a Talkspace Therapist: Samantha White

Holiday Anxiety: 5 Tips for Surviving Office Holiday Parties

office holiday party employees celebrating

Braving crowded stores to find the perfect gifts, family gatherings with relatives from far flung places you see only once a year, busy irregular schedules and traveling and decorating and wrapping presents and preparing food, and, of course, don’t forget the office holiday party.

’Tis the season…to be anxious.

With all these holiday activities to worry about, for many people, an office party may seem like a blip on the radar, approached with a combination of obligation, resignation, and for some, maybe even a little excitement. But if you live with anxiety, work holiday parties are probably high on the list of seasonal stressors. And you’re definitely not alone. Continue reading Holiday Anxiety: 5 Tips for Surviving Office Holiday Parties

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

3 Tips to Survive the Holidays While Living with Mental Illness

snowflakes clouds holiday winter background

As joyous as the holiday season can be, it is not immune from difficulties. If you’re living with a mental illness, dealing with the holiday cheer, increased expectations, and interacting more with family may prove to be overwhelming at times. Stress is often at an all-time high during the holiday season.

Here are some tips to help keep you mentally healthier throughout the holidays.

Tip 1: Be Honest With Yourself

Too often, we rely on others’ standards and expectations for us to dictate how we spend our time during the holidays. This pattern can lead to a crisis when you consider the already stressful season of spending extra money and a condensed amount of time with family members who may not understand your mental illness. Continue reading 3 Tips to Survive the Holidays While Living with Mental Illness

Dating Someone With Social Anxiety: 6 Tips from a Therapist

woman putting on lipstick man getting dressed before going out

It’s hard to have social anxiety. You feel like everyone is judging you, and you’re frequently uncomfortable in your own skin. It can also be difficult to date someone who suffers from social anxiety. Sometimes it can seem like your life is being constricted in ways you didn’t sign up for, and that issue can lead to resentment and irritation. Here are some tips to keep in mind when your partner has social anxiety, so the relationship can withstand the pressure of this disorder.

1. Try Hard to Empathize With Your Partner

You may not have social anxiety, but do you have any other issues you wish you didn’t have, or that you are actively working on improving? Most people wish they were different in some way or other. For instance, if you struggle with ADHD, it is useful to compare the conditions in your mind, saying, “I don’t try to forget things, and my partner isn’t trying to be scared of social situations. We both struggle.” Continue reading Dating Someone With Social Anxiety: 6 Tips from a Therapist

Why We Can’t Wait Around for That Big Happy Moment

time to be happy written in beach sand wave behind

Why We Can’t Wait Around for That Big Happy Moment” originally appeared on Shine, a free daily text to help you thrive.

“Many people lose the small joys in the hope for the big happiness” – Pearl S. Buck

It was a chilly evening in my cramped Brooklyn apartment, so I lit a candle and rolled out a yoga mat. I got into Child’s Pose, and, out of nowhere, I started crying. It wasn’t just a few tears I could dab away with my shirtsleeve—it was a snot-induced, ugly cry. I asked myself, “Why do I feel so unhappy?”

I think about happiness a lot, and I often wonder if I think about the emotion more than I actually feel it. On my tear-stained yoga mat, I realized that I hold out for happiness. Maybe I’ll feel it momentarily, but it’s fleeting. I’m always thinking of the bigger picture and waiting to be happy. Continue reading Why We Can’t Wait Around for That Big Happy Moment

7 Signs You May Be Sexually Incompatible With Your Partner

couple in bed man sleeping woman unsatisfied

Sexual incompatibility can range from a minor annoyance for some couples to the death-knell of a relationship for others. No matter what value you place on chemistry in the bedroom, though, the general rule is that if a problem is ignored, it grows in significance and leads to increased anger and resentment on both sides. If the following issues describe your relationship with your partner, I encourage you to start an open discussion with them about the role of sex and sexual compatibility within your relationship.

1. Your Partner Finds Sex “Silly” or “Unimportant”

When couples have a disparity in sex drives, that is one dilemma. The troubles really start, however, when one partner dismisses or discredits the other’s need for sex. If you are thinking your partner would even take issue with the idea of sex being a “need,” that mindset likely points to a problem. Continue reading 7 Signs You May Be Sexually Incompatible With Your Partner

Are Body Language and Tone Necessary for Therapy to Be Effective?

woman walking outside holing smartphone texting

Now that purely text-based therapy has taken off and has a growing number of studies backing its efficacy, mental health professionals and researchers are debating whether psychotherapy needs body language and tone to produce results. To compare the effectiveness of texting therapy with other mediums, the psychological community needs to think about what treatment outcomes are most important. As the practice of therapy has evolved, so has its priorities.

For many decades psychotherapy had only one format: a therapist and client in a room. Despite the requirement for both parties to be in the same physical space — within viewing distance — the early days of mental health counseling did not utilize body language to its full potential. Many patients lay on a couch and faced in the opposite direction of their therapists. To act as a “blank screen,” practitioners of psychoanalysis participated minimally in sessions and encouraged their patients to speak as much as possible. Continue reading Are Body Language and Tone Necessary for Therapy to Be Effective?

Neuroscience and Psychology: Unlocking the Mysteries of the Mind

brain mind illustrations

Discovering the relationship between the brain and the mind is one of greatest challenges that scientists face in the 21st century. The implications of such a discovery will radically change our conception of what it means to be a conscious being, and will have radical effects on neuroscience, metaphysics, judicial law — and psychology. Even the concept that humans act with free will, an idea that is central to our conception of who we are, may turn out be false.

The relationship between mind and brain is currently the subject of great debate. The conventional view dates back to 17th-century French philosopher René Descartes and his major work, Discourse on the Method, and is known as Cartesian Dualism in his honor. Descartes separated the mind from the body with his famous statement “I think, therefore I am,” a phrase known as “the cogito” after the Latin translation “Cogito, ergo sum.” Descartes laid the foundation for the way that we usually think of ourselves, today — that our mind is separate from the matter of our bodies, and it’s the source of our feelings, decision making capabilities, and all of the aspects that make us who we are. Our mind, a kind of indefinable “ghost in the machine,” gives the orders, and the subservient brain simply makes our bodies carry them out. Continue reading Neuroscience and Psychology: Unlocking the Mysteries of the Mind

#GivingTuesday: 7 Ways To Give that Improve Your Mental Health

#GivingTuesday present red bow wood table

Since 2012, the Tuesday after Thanksgiving is when we celebrate #GivingTuesday. An initiative born out of the Belfer Center for Innovation & Social Impact in New York, the day has taken hold as a time to get in the holiday spirit by giving to charities and nonprofits around the country to support the critical work these organizations do to help those in need.

But more than that, the spirit of #GivingTuesday can be the perfect time to remind ourselves that there are so many ways to give each year, not just through monetary donations, but through our actions toward ourselves and others, particularly around mental health.

So this #GivingTuesday, celebrate the day by giving in a mentally healthy way with these seven ideas. Continue reading #GivingTuesday: 7 Ways To Give that Improve Your Mental Health