In an effort to improve the understanding and care available for mental illnesses, medical professionals have encouraged the general public to think about mental illnesses like physical ailments—as real medical problems. Unfortunately, this type of thinking leads people to believe that mental illnesses can be treated like any other medical issue with nothing more than a single visit to the doctor and a prescription medication. While medication can be effective as a means for treating some mental illnesses, it typically isn’t enough, because it doesn’t address some core causes for feelings of negativity and hopelessness, and it does not offer long-term coping mechanisms for patients to rely on. That’s why talk therapy is usually recommended for anyone struggling with depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, or even just periods of increased stress.
Talk therapy addresses the mental side of mental illness—not just the physical components that medication can help treat—and it is customized to each patient to give them what they need. Here’s a closer look at what you need to know:
Talk Therapy: The Misconceptions
Talk therapy is not a new concept, but more people are willing to talk about it these days, because it does not have the overwhelmingly negative reputation that it once did. However, there are still some damaging misconceptions to recognize. First, attending therapy does not mean that you are crazy or insane. In fact, choosing to attend therapy is a sound and rational choice, so you should think of it as a step in the right direction for your mental health.
Another common misconception with talk therapy is that it takes a one-size-fits-all approach, and that couldn’t be further from the truth. Different therapists take unique approaches to their sessions, and these approaches are fine tuned to the needs of each patient. You can find a broad variety of qualified professionals to deliver the kind of care that will be effective for you, whether that’s using cognitive behavioral therapy, couple’s or family counseling, or a faith-based approach. Your therapist might even offer some unique types of sessions utilizing creative activities or having your pet come along to the session to increase your comfort.
Why You Should Seek Out Therapy
Therapy does take work, and it can take some initial research just to find the right therapist, but it is worth the effort. Perhaps the most important thing that talk therapy offers is a place to release the thoughts and feelings that you’ve been internalizing. Without a release, these thoughts can be toxic and isolating, and it’s not always easy to get your thoughts out by just talking to a friend or telling yourself to suck it up. Therapy also provides you with coping strategies, not just for right now but for the future as well. When you stop taking medication, you stop feeling the effects, but when you attend talk therapy, you may reap lifelong benefits with the strategies you take away. You can also work closely with your therapist to truly improve your life, not just disguise symptoms.
What to Expect in Your First Session
Your first therapy session may be the hardest, just because you don’t quite know what to expect and you will be preparing to share some of your deepest thoughts and feelings with someone you’ve just met. However, therapists understand this anxiety and they will work to make your experience comfortable and easy. Your first session will also be introductory, so you won’t have to dig deep the first time you sit down with a new therapist. You might just talk about some of your general health and family history, and it will take time to unpack the sources of your negative feelings.
It is also possible to decrease your initial anxiety by attending therapy from the comfort of home. With MeMD, you can do just that, since we make it easy to find a therapist and schedule appointments that will take place online via video, so you may feel more at ease as you get started. Even better, our behavioral health services are paired with affordable pricing for anyone, which means that there are few excuses not to get started.