There’s a lot happening in the world today that can make people feel pretty unsettled. Around 1 in 5 adults are affected by mental health issues each year.1 Yet fewer than half receive treatment.1 There’s still something stopping people from getting mental health help before it becomes a crisis. Maybe it’s a holdover from how mental health was treated in old movies and TV shows. Maybe it’s the norms in our families to keep quiet about any problems we’re having. Whatever the reason, we want people to know about mental healthcare and why it matters for our well-being. Learning more can help us break down barriers to seeking care.
What is therapy?
Let’s first get grounded on what therapy actually is. It’s when a person and a licensed provider work through the person’s problems and issues.2 A therapist uses their academic and clinical training to listen without judgment.2 They will ask questions to understand the core causes of a person’s thoughts, feelings and behaviors.2,3 Their goal is to offer ideas to change unhealthy thought and behavior patterns.2,3 They do this by helping the person focus on a healthy mindset and learn better coping skills.2,3
From this starting point, let’s look at some common myths about therapy and see how therapy can fit into our lives.
Myth #1: Therapy is only for people who have clinical mental illness
Not at all! Therapy can help you work through lingering problems that don’t get better, even when you try to change them.2,4 You should consider therapy if you’re having…
- An overwhelming sense of sadness and helplessness that won’t go away4
- Problems balancing duties and demands for both work and family4
- Excessive worries or are constantly on edge2
- Trouble sleeping4
- Difficulties solving problems or managing stressors4
- A major life event such as a recent move or health diagnosis4
- A hard time concentrating on work or managing everyday life activities4
These are just some of the signs that it may be time to try therapy. You don’t need a mental health diagnosis to get started. Therapy can help us learn to cope better and improve the way we feel.
Seek immediate medical assistance if you, a friend or a family member is in any danger of harming themselves or others.
Want to learn more about therapy? Create your Teladoc Health account to schedule your appointment with one of our mental health providers.
Myth #2: Therapists must be medical doctors
Not quite—some are, and some aren’t, and that’s OK. All therapists have specialized academic and clinical training. They spend years learning to understand thoughts and emotions and treat complex problems.2,4 They help people develop better coping skills and more effective habits. The goal is to help people live happy, productive lives.2 However, therapists can have a variety of titles, licenses and specialties, which can be confusing. So, let’s look at the most common types of therapists:
Psychologists hold a doctorate-level degree such as a PhD, PsyD or EdD in an area of mental health study. They’ve completed a clinical internship and post-doctoral training but are not medical doctors. They are experts in mental health assessment, diagnosis, treatment and behavior change.2
Psychiatrists are medical doctors. They are experts in the physiological aspects of mental health. They can prescribe medications for mental health conditions. A common example is when a person with ADHD needs medications to help them focus better.
Clinical social workers and counselors can also be therapists. They have completed academic and clinical training and passed exams. They are also licensed by the state. Some have doctorate-level education and training. Other credentials they might have include LICSW, LCSW, ACSW, LPC or LADC.3
Most therapists have an area of specialty. For example, they might offer adolescent mental health counseling. Or maybe they focus on LGBTQ persons, life changes, marriage and family and more. Many people choose a therapist who’s an expert on the type of issues they are facing or problems they want to solve.
Myth #3: You don’t need therapy for everyday life issues
In reality, many people find therapy helpful with everyday life issues. It can be useful whenever your quality of life isn’t what you want it to be.2 For example, if you’ve had a traumatic life event, like the loss of a loved one, a relationship or a job.2 Maybe you’re feeling stressed and anxious from your work, an empty nest or relationship problems.2 Life changes, large and small, can be difficult for many people. A therapist can help you cope with the changes that life brings in a healthy, productive way. Talking about your thoughts and behaviors can help you process your emotions. Therapy can help you develop a healthier mindset and coping skills so you feel better.
Why should I choose therapy?
Therapy is helpful for many people. You can develop better self-awareness.5 It can help you gain the tools and skills to live a more confident, balanced life.5 A therapist can recommend healthy habits for your well-being.5 These are just some of the benefits that people enjoy from improving their lives and relationships.
How do I choose a good therapist?
When you do therapy, you’re working closely in a relationship of trust. So, it helps to have a good match with your therapist. Have an initial conversation to see whether you are comfortable with the person. Do you “click”? Do they help you feel confident? Ask questions about their area of expertise, their training and their experience treating problems like yours. Choose a therapist who specializes in the area you need help with. Depending on your situation, you may want to also ask about their fees and what insurance they take, if any. There are a lot of factors to consider when you’re looking for a therapist. Don’t be shy about asking questions to learn what you need for a good fit. You deserve it!
Online mental health resources
Want to learn more about the benefits of therapy? We can help. At Teladoc Health, we’ve made mental healthcare more accessible so that you don’t have to wait weeks for an appointment. With a virtual appointment, you can speak with a mental health counselor right from your home, your office or wherever you’re most comfortable. We’re here to help you get started today!
Published October 16, 2023