3 Subtle Signs It’s Time to See a Therapist

We often think of therapy as a last resort or crisis center. When things have turned dire, after we’ve exhausted all our options, then it’s time to contact a professional.

But the sooner you get help, the better. For starters, waiting too long can chip away at the motivation and energy we need to create significant, lasting change, said Ashley Thorn, a licensed marriage and family therapist in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Waiting too long also means that negative patterns or behaviors become more entrenched, taking more time, money and effort for improvement, she said. And it means needlessly living with extra suffering and stress.
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Blame the Illness, Not the Patient

One of the most hurtful comments made to me during the worst of my depression was this: "You must not want to get better."

I know that person didn't intend to be spiteful or mean. She's just plain ignorant regarding mental health issues. (But I still haven't let it go, obviously.)

Comments like that are why I'm so passionate about educating folks on mental illness and eliminating the isolating stigma of our condition. Because it's hard enough fighting all the negative intrusive thoughts within our head. We don't need additional insults and negative opinions -- confirmation of our weakness -- from folks who have never wanted to die and consider all suicidal thoughts self-absorbed and pathetic.
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Anxiety and Panic

3 Reasons to Seek Professional Help (Even if You’re Scared)

When I was 23, I endured my first and only (knock on wood) panic attack. It was, without a doubt, the scariest, most unnerving few minutes of my life. While short-lived, I was terrified of suffering through another one. So I found a therapist in the area and within a week, we were rifling, together, through the episode’s underlying causes, many of which I was unaware even existed.

I quickly learned the value of having a therapist, a person to help you combat life’s challenges and tribulations. We all have personal issues but many prefer to keep them bottled up instead of opening up to a professional and risking being vulnerable.
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Spring Cleaning of the Psyche

Don’t insist on going where you think you want to go.
Ask the way to the Spring.
Your living pieces will form a harmony. ~ Rumi
With all the chaos in our world, information overload on our computers, and daily tests of our emotional equilibrium, how do we stay the course? How do we keep mind, heart, and spirit clear for what matters most?
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What Do Therapists Think About Before Your Session?

Ever wonder what your therapist is thinking about before he or she works with you? Are their thoughts focused on techniques? Are they reviewing your issues? Theirs? Is therapy more effective depending on these thoughts?

There is an intriguing research that points to better therapy outcome when the therapist thinks about something very specific: Your strengths.

Researcher Christopher Fluckiger has shown that resource priming -- contemplating a client’s strengths prior to conducting therapy -- results in the client responding with resource activation (using more of their strengths during the session).

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The Biggest Myths about Therapy

There are many myths about therapy. This is problematic. That’s because misconceptions discourage people from seeking professional help and getting better. Individuals might wait to go until their concerns have deepened, when it’s harder to intervene. Or they might not go at all, instead suffering in silence.

Since 2011, I’ve been interviewing therapists from all over the country about their work and life. In this series, "Clinicians on the Couch," I always ask the same 10 questions. One of those questions examines the biggest myth about therapy.

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Too Many Preschoolers Getting Medications for ADHD

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has just published its first national study on the various forms of treatment used for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in children. The study examined the use of medication, behavioral therapy, and dietary supplements -- and its results were eye-opening.

Almost 1 in 4 preschoolers were treated with medication alone.

That is an astounding number, when you stop and consider that a preschooler's brain is still under active development. Prescribing stimulants to such a young child's brain is a bad idea, given we have no longitudinal, long-term studies demonstrating that these medications won't be harmful in a child's development.

Read on to learn more about the study's key findings.

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Stigmatize Me, Fool


No one wants to talk about it. Yet it's very common and affects so many people. "Shh. Don't talk about that, Lauren. People will think you're crazy."

So there's this thing called a chemical imbalance in the brain. Maybe you've heard about it? Apparently, it's called science.

Let's face it. No matter what you say, certain people will always attach a stigma to mental illness.
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Children and Teens

Common Things Parents Say to Their Kids about Therapy that Aren’t Helpful

Parents often use therapy as a last resort, said Kate Leyva, a licensed marriage and family therapist specializing in working with children, teens and families in Lafayette, Calif.

So by the time your child starts working with a therapist, you may be feeling helpless, scared, angry and ashamed. Many parents do, said Clair Mellenthin, LCSW, a child and family therapist. "Many parents feel shame for not being able to 'parent' their child’s emotional and behavioral difficulties and struggles away."

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The Benefits of Premarital Counseling & How to Find a Therapist

Many people think premarital counseling is only for certain couples. That includes engaged couples who have relationship issues or who are required by their congregation to attend, said Meredith Hansen, Psy.D, a clinical psychologist who specializes in premarital, newlywed and couples counseling.

However, any couple can benefit from premarital counseling. It can help couples who are about to get married, have been married for five years or fewer, are living together or will have a domestic partnership, said Victoria Brodersen, LMFTA, a psychotherapist who specializes in premarital counseling.

She suggested thinking of your relationship "as a piece of machinery" -- "[E]ven those that run well require regular maintenance."
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Transference in Therapy

I dreamed of giving him my bone marrow. I offered him poetry, homemade cupcakes, passionate sex and a basket of Honey Peanut Balance bars, his favorite. I even proposed to repaint and decorate his waiting room -- at my expense.

I was in love.

His name was David. David was my therapist.

I started treatment with him after my mother’s death from a six-month bout with cancer. Her death left me broken open, bereft. My three-year-old marriage hadn’t quite found its footing and I felt alone in my grief. So I began therapy with David expecting a psychic sanctuary.
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What My Dog Taught Me about Marital Therapy

In my outpatient practice, I often do marital therapy. Couples come in to work on improving, or perhaps saving their relationship. By the time they take this step, they have often experienced years of conflict or distance. Sometimes they are close to calling it quits and calling the divorce attorney.

My first task in marital therapy is an assessment of the situation. What are the issues? What are the patterns of communication? What are the trigger points of conflict? What are each participant's personalities and motivations?

After this initial assessment, I will sometimes surprise the couple by telling them that they remind me a lot of my dog. This statement is met with some very strange looks, but at least I know that I have their attention. I go on to explain.
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