If you are reading this, it is likely you are feeling unsure about whether or not mental health services are applicable for you or your family. The question of whether or not mental health services are right for you is actually quite common as it can be difficult to figure out (and honestly if it was easy, I wouldn’t have had any content for this post!) I am asked questions about mental health services daily and some of the most common questions I am asked by potential clients are:
- What is therapy?
- How can it be helpful?
- How do I know if I and/or my child need it?
- What is it like?
- If I go to therapy, does that mean I am “crazy” or there is something “wrong” with me?”
- How long do I have to go?
- How much will this cost me?
I am a firm believer in the power of therapy and I am also a big advocate for reducing the stigma around mental health in our society. I cannot tell you how many times individuals let mental health concerns go untreated, simply because they were not knowledgable about the benefits of therapy services. Or, sometimes people are not even knowledgeable about what therapy even is! Could you imagine not seeking medical services for a medical issue/ailment because you either did not know where to go, what the services were, or how they could be helpful for you? It seems unimaginable! Yet, this happens daily with mental health and our mental health is JUST as important as our physical health. So, in an effort to continue to spread awareness around the benefits of mental health treatment, I am going to answer some of the most commonly asked questions around mental health services!
What is therapy?
Aside from being AWESOME, therapy is a process where one can work on their emotional wellbeing in a safe and confidential environment with a trained mental health professional. Common concerns which can be worked on in therapy include (but are not limited to) anxiety, stress management, anger, sadness, grief/loss, behavioral concerns, attention/focus/hyperactivity concerns, self-esteem/self-image, eating and food issues, suicidal thoughts, self-harming behaviors, aggressive behaviors, trauma, martial or relationship discord, substance abuse, family discord, academic struggles, and social skills. A trained mental health professional will meet with an individual and/or family weekly (or as otherwise agreed upon) to begin working on a treatment plan to resolve, manage, or improve upon symptoms which accompany any of these concerns. During this time, you will work with your therapist to monitor the change and growth process along the way.
How can therapy be helpful?
Therapy can be helpful because we are not expected to be able to handle everything on our own. Sometimes things become too stressful or difficult and we need additional support or guidance on how to navigate those stressors in a safe, healthy, and effective way. Lets face it, sometimes our go-to coping skills are not really the best! Trying to manage all of our stressors sometimes feels like when we try to bring in all of the groceries from the car on our own. Can we do it? Sometimes, yes. But…most of the time, no. However, it’s always so much easier when we have someone helping us. A therapist will not solve your problems for you by giving you the answers, but instead will provide ideas, suggestions, and skills which can be implemented to help you solve the concerns in which you are facing. Also, it’s super awesome to have a person who is literally there JUST FOR YOU to vent and process to. We all have moments where we want to pick up the phone and call our friend and have a vent session, but we can only do that for so long until our friends are sick of listening to us. BONUS! Therapists are never sick of listening to you! It’s our job, we love it and encourage it!
How do I know if I and/or my child need therapy?
It is 100% normal to have times where we feel depressed, angry, anxious, frustrated, or overwhelmed. These feelings are part of what make us human beings and we will undoubtedly have times where we are negatively impacted by the people or experiences in our lives. A good way to gauge whether or not these feelings need to be further worked on or addressed in therapy is whether or not they are impacting your daily functioning. Now, you’re probably asking yourself, “Well, what does that mean?” Heres an example: If you are feeling down one day, do you find yourself able to get yourself out of it? Meaning, you had a rough morning but are able to turn the day around and not focus on the negativity. Or, do you find yourself feeling “stuck” in that sadness? Do people around you comment that you’re miserable to be around or are very negative? Do you feel like your unhappiness is keeping you from doing the things in which you used to enjoy? Do you find it hard to get out of bed, take a shower, go to work/school? See the difference? If negative feelings are impacting your day-to-day functioning, then it may be time to seek mental health support.
For parents, it is often hard to gauge what is considered age appropriate behavior vs. behavior which needs a therapeutic intervention. If your child is functioning well socially, academically, and emotionally overall but has times where they tantrum or meltdown, that’s typically considered age appropriate behavior. If they have difficulties listening and following directions, but are able to be redirected in the home and school environments without issue, that’s also considered “typical”. If your child is unable to be managed in the home or school environment due behavioral concerns, that is typically when therapeutic intervention may be needed.
Now, these are VERY general examples to give you an idea and should NOT be used as a concrete reference for whether mental health services are needed or not. Rule of thumb: When in doubt, ask. Call a therapist and do a phone consult or speak with your primary care physician and see if what you or your child is experiencing specifically could be treated by mental health services.
What is therapy like?
The therapeutic experience is different for everybody because we as individuals are all different. Also, each therapist has a different style, technique, training, and background so no two therapy sessions will ever be the same. What I can tell you is that most therapists really work to ensure the environment is a comfortable one for our clients. We have all seen movies or TV shows depict what therapy sessions look like, so if you have never been before, that is likely your reference. While some of those depictions can have some truth to them, they are usually a far-fetched version of what therapy is really like. Think of when you go to your friend’s house. You sit on the couch and get comfortable and just start chatting. That is the type of environment I like to set up for my clients so they feel safe, comfortable, and at ease. But, sometimes therapy sessions can feel like a visit to the doctor’s office depending on the setting. Again, it varies. What is most important is to ensure you know what setting works best for YOU. Once you know that, you can ask the potential therapist about their office space, style, techniques, training, and decide if they are a good match for your needs.
If I go to therapy, does that mean I am “crazy” or there is something “wrong” with me?
Absolutely NOT. Are mental health services typically available for those suffering from mental health diagnoses? Yes. Does seeking mental health services automatically mean you meet criteria for a mental health diagnosis? No. This is a very big misconception and a large reason as to why many do not seek mental health services. It is similar to medical health in that people often avoid going to the doctor’s office because they don’t want to hear that they potentially have something “wrong” with them. Ignorance is bliss right? And we are all guilty of this! Sometimes we just need someone to talk to. Sometimes we just need someone to process life changes with. Sometimes we just need a little extra support where we may not be getting it elsewhere. None of those mean anything is “wrong” with you. It just means you are a human being and are fulfilling a need. And in the event you do seek mental health services and do meet criteria for a mental health diagnosis, THAT IS OK, TOO. Remember, there is such a stigma around mental health but we don’t feel ashamed if we are diagnosed with a broken arm or strep throat. So why should we feel ashamed if we suffer from an Anxiety or Depression diagnosis? If you do find you meet criteria for a mental health diagnosis, your therapist will work with you to explain what that means, what the symptoms are, as well as treatment options. They will answer questions and serve as a support for you as you work towards better understanding how the diagnosis is impacting your life.
How long do I have to go to therapy?
This is very subjective and there is no concrete answer. Sometimes people are in therapy for a couple of months, sometimes people are in therapy for a couple of years, and sometimes people are in therapy on and off throughout their entire life. There is no right or wrong answer and it is largely based on you, your life, your circumstances, your diagnosis (if applicable), and your needs. As you begin the therapeutic process, your therapist will inform you along the way of progress as well as a general timeline for length of services. Also, it is your treatment so you get to decide when you want to stop. Now, your therapist may inform you of concerns about stopping before they believe you are ready to complete treatment, however the choice is yours.
How much does therapy cost?
Again, this is very subjective and there is no concrete answer. Many therapists accept a variety of insurances and so you would just pay your co-pay for that type of service. If you find a therapist who does not take insurance, the fee will vary depending on their experience, expertise, and services provided. Also, price may vary depending on where you live. Sometimes therapists who do not take insurance offer a sliding scale fee, so that is always something I encourage prospective clients to ask a potential therapist about. Also, sometimes therapists who do not accept insurance will provide you with a receipt for services so you can submit that information to your insurance carrier for reimbursement, should your insurance plan include out of network benefits. Additionally, depending on your community, there may be mental health agencies which provide more affordable services to those either without insurance or those who cannot afford their copays with insurance. A good place to start is to check with your insurance carrier if applicable. Otherwise, looking on psychologytoday.com is also a great way to find therapists, see if they participate with insurance companies, or view their rates. I will also note that due to the stigma around mental health, people often feel hesitant to pay for therapeutic services out-of-pocket. Remember, therapy is an investment in YOU. I often tell clients that they cannot be the best version of themselves in the various roles they hold if they are not taking care of their needs first, including their mental health needs.
The decision to start therapy is one that may be difficult and may come with a lot of emotions attached. It is important to ensure you are open and honest about those feelings with your therapist as they will be able to help you process those emotions in a safe and healthy way. Also, there is no right or wrong answer here. If you begin mental health services simply because someone else told you to, you may find little value in it as it is not what YOU wanted, but instead what someone else wanted for you. When the time is right, you’ll know. When you feel ready, you’ll know. Trust yourself and be in tune to what it is that you need for YOU.
I would LOVE to know what spoke to you today and encourage you to comment below and share with me!
If you are interested in learning more about my therapy services, check out my website HERE. Seeking mental health services can be daunting and if you are finding my posts resonate with you, it is likely you are feeling ready to take that next step to work on leading a happier, healthier life! I would LOVE to support you in starting this journey and welcome you to send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
ALSO! Check out my FREE “How Do I know If Therapy Is Right For Me” printable to start the process of deciding whether or not taking this next step is right for YOU! Just add your name + email address below and you will receive an email with a link to your FREEBIE!