The Truth About Therapy: 8 Facts Mental Health Professionals Want You to Know
The stigma traditionally attached to therapy from years past is slowly dissolving in the new generation of patients seeking treatment. According to The Wall Street Journal, a 2017 report from the Center for Collegiate Mental Health at Penn State University revealed, “the number of students seeking mental-health help increased from 2011 to 2016 at five times the rate of new students starting college.” A 2018 report from the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association also found a “47% increase between 2013 and 2016 in depression diagnoses among 18-to-34 year-olds; the report attributed the rise largely to the fact that more young adults are seeking help.”
Even with the new generation of patients trying to normalize mental illness and help others feel less alone, many people still have fears and reservations about therapy. Here are eight facts mental health professionals want you to know about getting the help you need to live a full and happy life.
Therapy is for any problem – not just serious ones
Anyone can benefit from psychotherapy. According to the American Psychological Association (APA), “People seek psychotherapy for a range of reasons in everyday life, including:
- Treatment of depression, anxiety, or other mental health disorder.
- Dealing with major life transitions such as the loss of a job, a divorce, or the death of a loved one.
- Needing help managing and balancing the demands of parenting, work and family responsibilities
- Coping with a medical illness or substance abuse issues
- Improving relationship skills
Therapy is not forever
Everyone moves at their own pace during treatment. Some people may feel like a few weeks of individualized sessions is all they need; others may continue therapy for years. Since this journey is a personal one, you and your psychologist can develop a treatment plan that works for you. A psychologist’s goal is not to keep you in sessions forever, but to give you the tools and counseling necessary to live better on your own.
Online therapy may be an option
Some individuals feel uncomfortable sitting in a therapist’s office, or they don’t have the time to take off of work to go to therapy. For these people, online therapy is an alternative way to get the treatment they need. Apps like Talkspace, MDLive, or BetterHelp allow you to connect with a licensed mental health practitioner from your smartphone or desktop. Luckily, there is a broad spectrum of online therapy and mobile apps to fit all ages, issues, and lifestyles, including teen sites like TeenCounseling, and apps for the LGBTQ community such as PrideCounseling.
By using this technology, you can exchange text messages or schedule live video chat sessions that fit your schedule. Some therapy sites also allow for anonymity by using a nickname. An important note to consider when using these online tools is that the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) is not regulating these apps. This problem can leave psychiatrists in a difficult position as it is hard to know what is a safe and effective app versus an unhelpful and ineffective one. To help decide which ones may be best for you, consider looking at the app rating system developed by The American Psychiatric Association. It’s used to help clinical psychologists, and other mental health professionals assess the efficacy of online and mobile apps. Also, remember to discuss this option with your primary care doctor first before using any online service.
Therapy isn’t for the weak-minded
Discussing your problems and asking for help is the first step to feeling better. A mental illness, like anxiety, isn’t a sign of weakness any more than a physical illness, like diabetes. Being vulnerable and opening up about your mental health disorder is an act of true bravery.
You only have to discuss what you want to address
Some therapists may wish to explore childhood experiences and events impacting your life to better understand how to help you move forward. If you are not comfortable sharing this information, you can talk with your psychologist about this issue. A trained professional will have several techniques and modalities to use to help you through your problems that do not have to involve discussing your childhood. You are in control of your session.
It’s crucial to find the best therapist for you
You need to feel comfortable with your therapist, period. The type of therapy will not matter if you feel you can not trust the person in front of you. Before meeting with a psychologist, do your research and see if their training, methods, and background fit your personality and needs. Once you meet, if you don’t feel a connection with your therapist, be honest and let them know it isn’t a good fit. Most therapists anticipate to be fired during their career and do not take it personally.
Your sessions are confidential
Other than a few exceptions (such as if the patient threatens to harm themselves or others) the relationship between a patient and the psychologist is confidential. It is a safe space to share everything. The great thing about opening up to someone else (especially someone you do not know) is the feeling you get once you’ve released your problem(s). Once this happens, you immediately start to feel better, and the journey to healing can begin.
Not all therapy is the same
The good news about therapy – there are several different treatment modalities. Some psychologists use a solution-focused approach that focuses on how to make things better in the future, regardless of your past. Others use cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) or dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT), where they help patients to live mindfully in the present, deal with stress in a healthy manner, regulate and have control over emotions, and work on improving relationships with others.
Before meeting with a therapist, you might ask them what type of therapy they use in their practice. At Silver Lining Recovery, we offer one-on-one and group counseling sessions to help clients with substance use disorders regain mental and emotional health. Our individual therapy sessions partner clients with a trained therapist to work through issues, discover meaning and purpose in their life, and find positive solutions. Our group therapy activities focus on recovery topics such as trauma, relapse prevention, self-care, and shame resilience. Group size stays small, so individuals get the best form of individualized treatment. Don’t let the past steal your present, contact Silver Lining Recovery today at (866) 448-4563 and let us help you on the road to addiction recovery and better mental health.