Going to therapy is a huge step in learning to manage mental health issues. I personally have never gone to therapy but I know a few people that have and it has really helped them a lot. My immediate family members seem to be particularly susceptible to mental illness, most likely due to the death of my mom nearly 15 years ago. My dad has been clinically depressed ever since, but has never agreed to go to therapy despite my sister and I both encouraging him to do so. While he now does a relatively good job managing his depression through medication, I still believe he would greatly benefit from therapy. Especially since both my sister and I have left for college, there have been plenty of times where my dad has commented on his need for more people to talk to about life. My sister and I have both brought up the possibility of him attending therapy, which would give him someone with whom to talk through his feelings. My dad, however, always rejects this idea for one main reason: he doesn’t want to pay someone for listening to him when he can just talk to people he knows. However, even after my sister and I found him a therapist in close proximity to where he lives that is covered under his insurance, he has still refused to go, claiming that he “doesn’t need it.” We have explained to him countless times that therapists are trained to not only listen to what you have to say but to also provide meaningful feedback in how to manage your mental health issues on a daily basis. My dad’s refusal to see a therapist is most likely related to the stigma towards mental illness, particularly in men. This has not only hindered his ability to manage his depression, but it has also put a strain on our relationship.
My sister, on the other hand, began going to therapy during her senior year of college and continues seeing a therapist on a regular basis today. I have noticed a huge improvement in her mental health after starting therapy. When asking my sister how therapy has helped her mental health, she responded with the following: “my anxiety makes it really hard to talk to people and having a safe space to hash out my thoughts and feelings helps me to combat my anxious thoughts. My therapist also gives me tools/strategies to help with negative thought patterns and uncomfy situations, which is great because then I’m actively doing something to make life easier for myself.”
This is an excellent description of what going to therapy can do for a person. Not only does my sister have someone to talk to about her mental health issues, but she also learns valuable techniques in how to manage life with a mental illness. In comparison to my dad, I can tell that my sister is a whole lot better at finding healthy ways to deal with her mental health issues.
While I have not gone to therapy myself, seeing my sister improve has encouraged me to consider the possibility of finding my own therapist. General talk therapy, which is the type of therapy my sister goes to, appears to help her talk through her feelings and arrive at effective coping mechanisms. However, if I were to attend therapy, my first choice would most likely be cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). As one of the most popular and most effective treatment methods, have heard a lot about CBT as an effective way to manage anxiety, as it essentially rewires your brain to form new pathways aimed at encouraging more positive ways of thinking and acting. This can be especially helpful to people who experience negative thoughts and feelings on a regular basis and let these negatives affect the way they behave. When going through CBT, people are trained to challenge their negative thoughts and replace them with more realistic ones. Furthermore, people are encouraged to do things that worry them, starting with things that cause mild anxiety and eventually working up to things that are more anxiety-provoking.
This, in combination with learning how to challenge negative thoughts, can help a person develop new ways of thinking and acting that can help manage anxiety and also prevent anxiety from stopping you from doing things that you might otherwise enjoy. Overall, there are plenty of different forms of therapy out there, but the key is finding the one that works for you. This might require some initial research or experimentation with different therapists, but in the end I’m sure it will be worth it.
By: Kristine W. Anxiety In Teens Contributor