The Truth About Therapy

How do you feel about the word therapy? Some of us are under the impression that attending therapy means we are going “crazy” or “insane.” This is false and if you believe this you are actually stereotyping and increasing the stigma related to mental health. Therapy is for all, the everyday unique person who simply wants to better them self. You do not have to be experiencing a major life crisis, transformation or a traumatic event to benefit from someone listening to you.

I want to debunk some therapy rumors and clear up any misconceptions about therapy:

1. My issues are not a big deal: Your anxiety may be related to things others may not understand or empathize with. That does NOT mean they are not a big deal, it means you can talk to someone who can empathize, listen and understand how your illogical thoughts may be growing in your own head.

2. In therapy I will be told what to do: NO, sorry that is truly the most far from the truth. A therapist listens and guides. But we do not tell anyone what to do. You come up with our choices based on what you want to accomplish. In therapy, you gain insight and the ability to make your own healthy choices.

3. My therapist does not care about my problems: That may be true or not, every therapist is different and unique. If you feel they do not empathize or understand you, leave. Find another therapist, we are everywhere and we all have different talents. The most important thing for you to benefit from therapy is simply your relationship with your therapist and how well you get along.

4. It is too expensive: This can be true, but it can also be very false. Therapists can work with insurance providers, some have sliding scales or discounts for college students. I always say therapy is not permanent, it is an investment. Put away your online shopping habit and instead commit to something that can help you gain better relationships, a promotion and self-esteem.

5. Talking won’t help me solve anything: Of course, it can! You just have not found the right person for you to talk to. See talking to a therapist is not like talking to a friend, spouse or family member. It is unique in that your therapist has no motif, no underlying gain, they do not know you or your acquaintances. A therapist learns to see you the way you see yourself, through your own eyes.

6.  I can not change people around me: Very true, in therapy, you will learn this. But you should not be going to therapy to change people, you should be going to therapy to improve your own thinking and insight.

7. It is embarrassing: If you feel this way, talk about it in therapy. I do not see people feeling embarrassed about going to the doctor, dentist and even your gynecologist. Talking to a therapist is empowering and the most opposite of embarrassing.

8. Therapy is forever: No, it does not have to be forever. Find a therapist with a therapy style that gives you results and you too will see not every therapist is the same, and you do not have to invest your entire future going to therapy.

Please remember your therapist is human too. In fact, many of us attend our own therapy. It is not as shocking, embarrassing or outlandish as you may think. We study the art and science of psychology, it is important for us all to realize our own limitations and to consult with other like-minded humans, who are impartial and non-biased when we need an extra boost.

depression anxiety tampa therapy young adult millennial teen counseling psychology maternal health postpartum self esteem self love self care

Goal Motivation

Hi Everyone! My name is Angelica, but I prefer to be called Angie.  I am a student in the Rehabilitation and Mental Health Counseling program at the University of South Florida. I also work as Mrs. Stephanie’s Administrative Assistant here at Serene Mind Psychology.

In addition to my professional interest in counseling, I am a certified Success and Wellness Coach. In my work as a coach, I help my clients (who all happen to be college students) to first cultivate a vision for how they’d like to live their best lives. Most of that process involves asking them to consider their values, their priorities, and to reflect on their level of satisfaction in eight dimensions of their wellness: Physical Environment, Career, Finances, Physical Health, Friends/Family, Romance, Personal Development/Growth, and Fun/Recreation. From this vision, my clients then set goals to help facilitate balance across each of the eight areas mentioned.

While there is a certain objectivity to the goal setting process, our goals are a reflection of who we are and what we value. The art of goal setting is important to facilitating forward movement in both the coaching and counseling environments. So how can you ensure you set goals that allow you to cultivate a momentum and will carry you forward into living life on your own terms? The key is to set SMART goals! SMART goals are:

  • Specific: Specific goals are those that get down to business. What behavior or thought are you seeking to change in order to improve your satisfaction with your life or holistic wellness?
  • Measurable: Measurable goals allow you to answer the question, “what will it look like when this goal is met?” If you either can’t measure your goal progress or don’t know what to look for, how will you know when you’re ready to set your sights on a new target?

  • Attainable: Attainable goals are those that stretch you just outside of your comfort zone-- but not so far out of it that your goals are no longer within reach. This makes the difference between a goal that is a confidence boost and one that is a confidence bust!

  • Relevant: Relevant goals help us answer the question “why”—why does this goal matter? What purpose will it serve to accomplish this goal? When you know your ‘why’, you can accomplish any ‘what’!

  • Time-bound: Time-bound goals have a timestamp on them: By when will you have this goal completed? It is important to be realistic as you are setting your timeframe; again, this be a make-it or break-it for your confidence!

I learn through examples, so here is an example of one of my goals for this year:

In order to become the best coach I can be, I will read one piece of material per month that expands my knowledge and skill set as a coach. After reading each resource, I will create a 1-page summary of major takeaways and strategies I can use to integrate the resource into my practice as a coach.

Can you identify each element of the SMART framework in my goal?
 

Your First Semester at College Survival Guide

TampaChildTeenYoungAdultTherapyCounselingPsychology

As a high school senior you were on top of the food chain. You probably knew your school like the back of your hand and best of all you were comfortable. August is finally here and the fall college semester will begin soon. Some of you are heading to schools where you will be one of thousands of students, others are heading to small schools in which you will be one of hundreds. Either way it is a BIG change and college anxiety is real. 

Here are some ways to ease your mind and look forward to your first day of college: 

1. Purchase the essentials: Aside the typical dorm items, remember to purchase school supplies and your books. Show up to class prepared and ready to take notes (even if it is the first day of class). In college professors will expect you to always be prepared to learn, there is no movie day or freebie. 

2. Go explore the campus: Learn where your dorm is, the nearest dining halls and where your classes are. Learn to take the bus and time how long you take to reach your destination. This will help you plan how much time you have between classes. 

3. Get to know your professors: No, you do not have to take them to lunch, but introduce yourself during a class break and research their ratings on www.ratemyprofessor.com or a similar website  (this will make you aware of their teaching style and personality).  

4. Get to know your roommates: Spend time together, talk, go out to eat and learn what you have in common. Your roommates can be a great part of your college experience (they still are a great part of my life). You will be living with them so make the best of it and work on building a friendship. 

5. Have a schedule: Write down and plan out your day (from start to finish). This will help ease your stress and increase your timeliness. You can add lunch, time with friends, work out time, study hours and quizzes to all fit your schedule. 

6. Have fun: Take the time to join clubs and make friends. College is not just about your studies. It is a great opportunity to make social connections (future work connections are always great) and explore the things that really interest you. This will help you find your identity, which can help you choose a career that aligns with who you are. 

Prepare yourself for a year of learning, fun and exciting new ventures! College is what you make of it. Remember to take one day at a time. Patience is key to learning your way around, adapting to a new environment and surviving your first semester.  

Mental Health Matters

"Once my loved ones accepted the diagnosis, healing began for the entire family, but it took too long. It took years. Can't we, as a nation, begin to speed up that process? We need a national campaign to destigmatize mental illness, especially one targeted toward African Americans...It's not shameful to have a mental illness. Get treatment. Recovery is possible."

–Bebe Moore Campbell, 2005
Co-developer of Minority Mental Health Month

I’d like to take a moment to first give kudos to the individuals and groups of individuals who have made great efforts to destigmatize mental health over the past several years. Campaigns such as ‘Time to Change’, and Takethis.org have created safe spaces for individuals and their loved ones who experience mental illnesses to vent about their experiences, and connect with others who they can relate to. These sort of campaigns have been created with the purpose of destigmatizing mental health, and it seems that they have done an excellent job of educating individuals about mental health, and fostering hope for individuals by sharing venues for getting help.   

Unfortunately, it seems that many individuals still feel a sense of shame and helplessness when it comes time to getting care for themselves or for their loved ones. Statistics vary depending on the source, but between 1/5 and ¼ of all Americans are currently living with a diagnosable mental health condition. NAMI reports that individuals who are Hispanic, Black, Asian, and American Indian, are as or more likely to have a mental illness as white individuals. But when it comes to receiving care, White Americans are most likely to receive care for their mental health. African Americans and Hispanic Americans do not tend to receive the mental health services that they need and Asian Americans were found the least likely to receive care. 

So what explains this disparity between white individuals and minorities receiving mental health treatment? According to NAMI, individuals in multicultural communities receive a poorer quality of care, experience higher levels of stigma, receive services within a culturally insensitive health care system, may experience language barriers from their clinicians, and have lower rates of health insurance.  These statistics, although discouraging, serve as a sign to mental health practitioners that we need to do more to reach clients of all ethnic backgrounds, especially individuals who fall into these underserved communities. Minority Mental Health Month was developed to improve the public’s awareness of mental health among minorities and to improve access. 

What can you do to help? Educating yourself and others about mental illnesses may be the first step. You can visit www.nami.org for additional information regarding the facts and myths associated with mental health. You can connect with other individuals and families, neighbors and people who have sought help for their mental health in the past. You may also speak with your doctor to see if therapy may be a good fit for you or a loved one.

It is not always easy to talk about mental health but by just reading this blog you are already helping others. Awareness is key and by coming together we can begin to end the stigma associated with mental illness, especially for minorities.

Summer Loving

Hi all! I would like to introduce myself. My name is Bridgette, and I am a counseling student at the University of South Florida. I have been working with Mrs. Stephanie as her Administrative Assistant for the past year. Some of you may know me from our phone conversations, or by my assistance in the therapy room during my practicum experience. I am happy to share that I will be graduating next summer with my master’s degree in Rehabilitation and Mental Health Counseling, and will be a Certified Rehabilitation Counselor, and a registered counseling intern with the state of Florida. I enjoy writing in my spare time, as I find it to be a fun form of self-expression. Mrs. Stephanie has asked that I join her in contributing to our blog, and I am thrilled to share my first post!

Aaah, it’s sweet summertime!  Our kids are out of school, or if we don’t have children at home, perhaps we’ve decided to take some time for ourselves this summer. Whether vacationing, stay-cationing, or simply taking some time to relax when we have a moment of peace after work, summertime can be ideal for connecting with oneself again, and refocusing on what is most important to us.  

Summertime can serve as a great time to reconnect with our values, strengthen coping mechanisms, and re-center ourselves. For school aged children, teens, and young adults, summer may serve as the ideal time to begin therapy. Oftentimes when planning for summer we think of all of the most enriching possible activities out there. We register our kids for a great summer camp, and plan educational trips to museums. We plan picnics outside at the beach, and splurge on all access passes to Adventure Island, (anything to beat the scorching Florida heat). We take time to travel, and to be outdoors. What we often overlook during the summer is helping our young ones, and ourselves, to work on our mental health.

The benefits of therapy are innumerable. Research indicates that 75% of individuals who enter therapy show some benefit (APA, 2017). The following are some benefits of attending therapy over the summer as I have identified. Keep in mind that everyone is different, and as you are reading I encourage you to open yourself up to what benefits you could see for yourself of going to therapy.

  • Gain coping mechanisms In counseling we cultivate coping mechanisms that will be carried with us far beyond our time in the therapy room. Oftentimes when life throws us barriers, we develop coping mechanisms that don’t serve us. We may not even be aware of what these maladaptive mechanisms are. In therapy we learn to identify our not so helpful coping mechanisms, and to find what is healthy, and what works for us.

  • Manage our stress The summer can be an ideal time to take a break from our usual routine, and to work through out stressors with our therapist. The act of going to therapy itself may also serve to reduce stress. Therapy means having regularly scheduled appointments to look forward to for y-o-u.

  • Improve our concentration Whether we have a break from responsibilities this summer, or if we are still engaged in school and work, summer can be an excellent time to refocus, and to gain skills to help us concentrate throughout the year.

  • Cultivate self-esteem It’s the dreaded time of year again when we get to see the beautiful (beautifully photoshopped) models showing off their tans and their ‘beach bodies’. Rather than focusing on trying to look like the celebrities we see, this summer perhaps we can turn inward to work on cultivating our self-esteem.

  • Get a handle on our anxiety and depression Although we often think of wintertime as a time that individuals most often feel depressed and anxious, summertime can often bring those feelings to the forefront of our lives. The extra time off may be a relief, but it may also bring to light feelings we are coping with all year long. In therapy we can gain the skills we need to cope with feelings of anxiety and depression.

  • Gaining insight of ourselves Our modern society doesn’t often provide us with opportunity (or time) to take a step back and think about ourselves as individuals. Therapy, for some, may be the first opportunity for a higher level of introspection, and may be an opportunity to feel truly heard and understood by a compassionate listener.

If you or a loved one has been on the fence about when the right time for counseling is, I hope you consider taking time for yourself this summer to find a counselor who is a good fit for you or your loved ones needs. Whether you are reading this post this summer, or if it’s any time of the year, I encourage you to find a clinician who will work alongside you while you work on yourself.