Though millions of people seek professional healthcare support every year, a stigma remains around mental health care. Many people believe the notion that therapy exists only for those with debilitating health conditions or people experiencing “serious” hardship like grief or addiction. In truth, this idea is an outdated notion, and the stigma keeps people from getting the care they could benefit from. Whether you have a diagnosed disorder or not, therapy can help you achieve your goals and therapy can help you even when you aren’t in a period of crisis.
Therapy sessions offer a safe environment where you can explore your feelings, relationships, challenges, setbacks, personal strengths, and tools to help you heal. For example, therapy is the right place to confront the following circumstances:
- Bullying, Physical, mental, sexual, or verbal abuse
- Death of a loved one
- Abandonment or neglect
- Having a parent or parents with mental health issues
- Volatile, unsafe or unstable environment
- Extreme poverty
- Experiencing a traumatic or violent event
Whatever your circumstances, there are well-trained professionals out there who know how to help you walk through the challenges of life. Even if you think your problems are “too small” or “too big” to seek therapy for, a professional therapist can help. Therapists help people face their challenges head-on, make peace with their pasts, and achieve their goals for the future.
Things to Know About Therapy
If you’ve never been to therapy, you may have a few questions about how it works. If you want to better understand therapy practices before you look for the right counselor, you should know the following facts about therapy:
- Therapy is Confidential– There mere thought of trying out therapy can be overwhelming, and the fear of stigmatism can keep you from seeking treatment. It’s important to know that you are not alone and that there is no shame in seeing a therapist or having a mental illness. In fact, one in five American adults experience a mental illness and 43 percent of them receive treatment.
If you do seek therapy, you can rest assured that what you discuss will not leave the room. Professional therapists cannot legally share information you reveal during a session. The only exceptions to the rule are: If you or the public are at serious risk of harm, if the therapist receives knowledge of abuse to a child, elderly person, or person with a disability that they’re mandated to report, or if a patient is involved in a legal proceeding and information about their mental health is relevant to the case.
- Therapy Is for Everyone– Therapy doesn’t need to be your last resort; it can be preventive or proactive. Many people nowadays are finding these sessions helpful in building skills that can help navigate the pressures of everyday life. Therapy treatments aren’t only for people who are “sick.” Everyone can benefit from speaking to a therapist to support their overall well being.
- Therapy is Your Time– The stereotypical image of therapy is a person reclining on a couch, unloading burdens to a stranger while the therapist nods and scribbles in their notepads. However, most forms of therapy do not work like this.
A session can be interactive or passive, focused on the past or the present, structured or open-ended, comforting or challenging. Many types of therapy also include active exercises. Before contacting a mental health provider, do some research into the different forms of therapy available. Then, you can discuss with a professional which type may suit you the best.
How to Find the Right Therapist for You
Working with the right therapist can bring about positive change in your life. However, the road to finding “Dr. Perfect” can be winding and bumpy at times. Ideally, you’ll be looking for someone with an office location that’s convenient for you and has experience dealing with your particular issues. You’ll also want to find someone who puts you at ease and is affordable. Here are a few tips to help you find the right therapist:
- Ask for referrals from professionals you’ve worked with before, friends, or anyone else within your social circles.
- Check sites that offer online directories and that allow you to search for therapists.
- Take advantage of the complimentary phone consultation many therapists offer.
- If you have insurance, contact your provider and request a list of therapists in your local area who are “in-network.”
- Do some additional research by browsing on a potential therapist’s website. You can check out their bio and credentials.
Online therapy is “therapy through a screen.” This can either be a computer screen or smartphone, as long as the platform used protects your privacy. With online therapy, you can connect with a specialized professional without the worry of accessibility (especially during non-work hours) and geographical constraints.
What is the cost of online therapy? The surprising fact is that some providers charge less than their office-based counterparts. Online therapy can not only save money by eliminating transportation expenses; some online therapists offer sessions at lower rates than most traditional therapists.
Deciding to seek professional help for problems you may feel like a huge step. It takes lots of courage to address your challenges directly and to let someone else into your mind. While difficult, going to therapy has helped millions of people improve their mental health. Seeing a therapist just may be the thing that radically changes your life.