What Is Child Counseling And Why Is It Important?

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Children are highly susceptible to emotional health issues because they are not as capable as adults to process stress or personal issues. Stressors such as abuse and bullying can affect a child’s development. Leaving these issues unattended would only result in more inner turmoil.

Children can also experience the same internal turmoil that adults experience. As much as we value the mental health and well-being of adults, we also have to value the well-being of children. Luckily, there are ways to address children’s mental health issues, and one of those is child counseling.

What Is Child Counseling?

Child counseling provides mental health support to children, up until the adolescent age, who have mental health problems, are victims of abuse or neglect, or live in a stressful home environment.

Child counseling aims to help children understand their situations and process their emotions better and healthier. This therapy aims to teach children to manage emotional distress and build healthy coping mechanisms effectively.

What Kind Of Issues Does Child Counseling Address?

One of the main goals of child counseling is to address issues in a child’s life that affects their mental well-being. Some events in their lives may trigger strong emotions that children are still not capable of processing.

Children undergoing counseling are helped to cope with situations and feelings like the following successfully:

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Divorce

A divorce is an event that can be emotionally and mentally distressing for a child. Some children may think that their parents’ divorce is their fault. Because of this, they might have feelings of guilt, shame, and unworthiness.

Child counselors can aid children in this set-up to cope with strong and confusing emotions. They can introduce ways of releasing stress through art, journaling, music or talking to a companion about their feelings and thoughts.

Abuse

Abuse can come in different forms: emotional, physical, sexual, bullying, and neglect. Child abuse can cause physical, mental, and emotional damage to a child. These can have a life-long impact on children, especially when left unaddressed.

Abuse can destroy a child’s capacity to build lasting relationships with others. It can also affect how they express their feelings and may lead to trust and relationship issues in the future. Children who have survived abuse often struggle with anxiety, depression, and feelings of worthlessness.

Child counseling provides a safe space for children who went through abuse. During sessions, they can open up and share their feelings without judgment.

More importantly, therapy can help children reframe their experiences and see themselves as survivors rather than victims of abuse.  

Change

Significant changes in life like moving to a new house, losing a loved one or a pet, changing schools, divorce, and remarriage can also affect a child.

As adults, we can adapt more easily to new environments and situations. However, children are not yet capable of this. They can easily be overwhelmed by the sudden newness in life, leading to outbursts of emotions.

Child counseling helps children to cope with change and make them understand that change is natural. Therapy can also teach children to be open about their emotions concerning these changes in their lives.

Grief

While adults have the necessary tools to process loss and grief, children are far from an understanding loss. Going through the grief process is already difficult for adults, making it more difficult for children to process. Children may be trapped in the cycle of denial, sadness, rage, and anxiety.

Child counselors can help children understand that grief is a long and natural process. They can help them develop better ways to cope with the feeling of loss. They can introduce tools that will help them channel their emotions like music, art, writing, and journaling.

Anxiety And Depression

Anxiety and depression in children are often tied with traumatic events in their lives. A child who has anxiety may appear irritable and angry. They can also experience sudden intense fear, difficulty in breathing, and dizziness. Anxiety attacks may interfere with a child’s daily activities.

Meanwhile, depression makes children feel unmotivated and, in the worst cases, may push them to have suicidal ideation. Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, and hopelessness are also caused by depression. However, children might not talk about these feelings and appear completely fine.

Child counselors will encourage children to be open about their emotions. They will also help children who have anxiety and depression develop better coping mechanisms and process their emotions more effectively.

Signs That Your Child May Need Child Counseling

A child experiencing mental health issues may show different signs that warrant a visit to a child counselor. Some of the signs include:

  • Constant feeling of sadness and hopelessness
  • Inability to control strong emotions like anger or outbursts of emotions
  • Increased irritability and aggression
  • Preferring to be alone rather than being in the company of friends/family
  • Sudden decline in academic performance
  • Loss in appetite and weight
  • Anxiety attacks or panic attacks
  • Recurrent nightmares and other sleep difficulties
  • Alcohol or substance abuse
  • Hearing voices in their head
  • Expressing suicidal thoughts or having suicidal ideation
  • Engaging in self-harm practices

As an adult, you have to be keen on these signs. Children tend to hide what they’re feeling, and some of these may be hard to notice. If you notice that your child is acting unusual and is showing any of these signs, you might want to visit a child counselor for professional assistance.

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Why Is Child Counseling Important?

Childhood is an important part of anyone’s life because our identity and how we behave later on in our lives are anchored upon our childhood. However, children are often exposed to internal and external factors that may affect their childhood and, ultimately, their development. It is in these times that child counseling comes into play.

Child counseling is important because it helps children regulate their emotions and better understand their situations. This form of therapy equips children with a more positive outlook on life and can have effective coping mechanisms.

With the help of child counselors, children can effectively manage distress and strong emotions by themselves. They can learn how to speak their feelings instead of keeping them on their own. More importantly, children will develop a healthier sense of self and be competent individuals in the future.

How Can Counseling Address Internet Addiction In Children?

We are living in an advanced age where you can access almost anything through the internet. There are benefits in the advancements of technology as they make our lives easier and more comfortable. However, technological advances also have their pitfalls. One such pitfall is internet addiction, which is a prevalent issue right now.

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What Is Internet Addiction?

Excessive and problematic use of the internet often characterizes internet addiction. With the increasing number of studies about this area, many experts are beginning to consider internet addiction a legitimate mental health concern. 

You might have internet addiction if your internet use negatively affects your quality of life. Having difficulty retaining or creating relationships is another symptom. Affected day-to-day functioning depending on internet use is yet another.

Excessive use of the internet can negatively impact your child’s physical health. They can develop body pains such as headaches, neck pain, and backaches. Internet addiction can also lead to different mental health concerns like eating disorders, anxiety, and depression.

Internet addiction is prevalent in the youth sector as they have more technological knowledge. They also use the internet for more things apart from school. Without proper regulation and management, children will develop internet addiction.

Symptoms Of Internet Addiction

The symptoms of internet addiction can manifest either physically or emotionally. As a parent, you have to monitor the occurrence of these symptoms and take action immediately.

Physical symptoms of internet addiction may include:

  • Bodily pains like headaches, backaches, and neck pain
  • Sleep-related problems like insomnia
  • Poor nutrition leading to either massive gain or loss of weight
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Vision problems like dry eyes 

Compared to the physical symptoms, emotional symptoms are harder to notice as children can hide them. Emotional symptoms of internet addiction may include:

  • Dishonesty about internet use to friends, family members, and even mental health professionals
  • Voluntary isolation or seclusion and choosing to refrain from socializing with family members or friends
  • Agitation and aggression, especially when unable to access the internet
  • Exhibits signs of anxiety and depression

How Can Counseling Address Internet Addiction?

Counseling or psychotherapy can help a child overcome internet addiction. Many forms of counseling are proven to help children with internet addiction, like cognitive-behavioral therapy, group therapy, and family therapy.

The goal of the counseling is to address their addiction properly. The counselor looks into what led the child to excessively using the internet. 

Here are some other ways how counseling can address internet addiction in children:

  • Motivate the child to reduce the use of the internet. Make the child realize how their behavior can affect other members of the household. 
  • Identify the triggers that lead to the excessive use of the internet. These triggers can be a person, place, thing, or series of events that push someone to become addicted to the internet. 
  • Determine healthier alternatives. With a counselor’s advice, the family can schedule activities throughout the day to encourage your child to be away from the internet. 
  • Set realistic internet use goals. This can be in the form of setting maximum hours your child can spend on the internet for a day. Blocking sites that fuel excessive use of the internet is also a possible alternative. 

The counselor can also encourage members within the household to track and record the time spent on the internet each day. This helps track the progress and address the issue.

  • Help the child develop good healthy habits to replace the negative habits related to internet use. 
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How Can You Help With Your Child’s Internet Addiction?

Internet addiction is an issue that must be faced as a family. Thus, as an adult, you have a role to play in your child’s success in overcoming their internet addiction. You can do supplementary practices further to assure the steady and consistent progress of your child.

Such practices may include:

  • Setting boundaries and giving rewards.

Many parents take away their child’s gadgets as punishment when they see that they are becoming addicted. This practice would only make your child think that they are bad. They might start acting rebellious, which would only exacerbate the problem instead of addressing them. 

You can implement reasonable boundaries and rules in the household regarding their use of the internet. You can give rewards when you see that they follow the rules and stick to the allotted time given them. Positive reinforcement would encourage your child to form good habits and drop the bad ones.

  • Changing the location of your child’s computer.

Instead of placing the computer in your child’s room, place it in a central place in your house. The location must ensure that you can monitor your child’s activities. Situating your child’s computer outside of their room will stop your child’s tendency to spend long hours using the internet. 

  • Being proactive and learning to use technology.

Your kid can be more advanced in using technology, but that must not stop you from helping them overcome their addiction. You have to be proactive and learn the basic things about technology so you can relate more to your child.

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Technology and the internet are helpful tools we use in our daily lives. Using them is never bad on its own. Internet addiction in children may affect poor regulation or a way for your children to cope with existing issues.

What’s important is that professionals can address internet addiction. It’s a condition that you can solve with a proper and proactive mindset. 

Frequently Asked Questions About Online Counseling Services

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When I was in high school, my younger sister Jen had a new friend named Eliza. Upon seeing her at home for the first time, I got a little worried. Not to sound like prejudice or anything, but if you saw someone wearing black lipstick and dark eyeshadow in the middle of the day, you would not think they were up to something good. I was worried that Eliza would be a negative influence on my baby sister.

I voiced my thoughts to Jen as soon as Eliza was gone, and my sister shook her head. She said that Eliza was merely misunderstood due to her fashion choices but that she was a good kid deep down. My parents were also concerned, but they could not precisely keep Jen from seeing her new friend at school, so they asked her to hang out at home instead of anywhere else to be sure of my sister’s safety.

A few months later, my little sister opened up about Jen’s problems over dinner.

“You know, Mom, Dad, I feel bad for Eliza. Her father does not care about her; her mother does not take her mental health seriously,” Jen confided.

“What’s up with her mental health? Is she a psycho?” I interjected.

My sister’s eyes widened. “Of course not!” she exclaimed.

“Then, what’s there to be taken seriously?” Mom prodded.

“Eliza got diagnosed with depression in 7th grade. Her parents would take her to the psychologist and buy antidepressants regularly, but they were still so mean to her. Because of that, she sometimes retaliates by doing exactly what her parents tell her to do.”

“How is that a bad thing?” Dad asked, confused.

“Like last weekend, Eliza asked for paracetamol at home because her head was aching. Then, she had a little argument with her mother about vegetables, and her mother remarked that she should take all ten tablets in the blister pack at once. So… she did.”

“Oh, my God!” Mom exclaimed, horrified. “How can her parents be so insensitive?”

“What happened to your friend?” Dad asked.

“Hmm, Eliza said she just slept most of that day,” Jen replied.

“She’s lucky that’s all the paracetamol did to her. That’s technically an overdose,” I commented, feeling bad for Eliza.  

“What do you all think Eliza should do?”

No one spoke for a full minute; everyone was in deep thought. Then, Dad said, “Perhaps Eliza should try online counseling to treat her depression first.”

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  1. What is the best online counseling service? 

 The best online counseling service is technically BetterHelp. This platform offers comprehensive mental health support, which is challenging to find in other online apps.

  1. Can I talk to a counselor online for free? 

 Yes, you can talk to a counselor online for free. There are counseling apps like 7 Cups of Tea that offer free counseling as a whole. However, if you want to chat or talk privately with a licensed counselor, you need to subscribe to a plan.

  1. Is online Counselling effective? 

 Yes, online counseling is technically effective, but it is not recommended for all kinds of mental disorders. Its effectivity also depends on the rapport built by the patient with the counselor. In other words, if the patient isn’t truthful to the counselor or the counselor isn’t too trustworthy, it keeps the patient from getting better.

  1. How do I start an online Counselling service? 

 If you want to offer an online counseling service, the first thing you should do is check your state’s licensure law regarding online counseling. Technically speaking, you will be able to practice within the state, but you need to make sure that doing so is allowed in other states, too.

Then, you must find out if your training and certification are enough to provide online counseling. If it’s not, you will most likely be required to accomplish more training. After that, finding a suitable platform for your services is essential to ensure steady client flow. If you cannot decide on any, you can create a website of your own and get clients through it.

It is also important to advertise yourself and be included in the online counselors’ online directory.

  1. Is TalkSpace or BetterHelp better? 

 BetterHelp is better than TalkSpace, provided that you want to see the therapist without needing to meet them in person. In case you only want to chat with them, TalkSpace may be more suitable for you than BetterHelp.

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  1. Is online therapy cheaper? 

 Yes, online therapy is much cheaper compared to regular treatment. The former typically starts at $30 per hour, while the former asks for more than $100 per visit or more.

  1. What are the three types of therapy? 
  • Psychodynamic Therapy
  • Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy
  • Humanistic Therapy
  1. Is 7 cups therapy free? 

 Not really. The online community setting of 7 Cups of Tea is free, but it does not allow you to chat with a licensed therapist one on one. If the latter is your goal, you need to sign up and pay approximately $150 per month.

  1. Are there any free counseling apps? 

 Yes, there are a few free counseling apps. E.g., Providence, Take a Break!, Mindshift, etc.

  1. Is there an app for counseling? 

 Yes, there is an app for counseling – or a few of them. E.g., BetterHelp, TalkSpace, 7 Cups of Tea, etc.

  1. Is the Moodpath app free? 

 The Moodpath app is not 100% free. Its basic features are free, but you need to pay for the plan to get more features.

  1. Why is therapy so expensive?

Therapy is so expensive because therapists spend decades studying and training to get all the credentials necessary to become one. Not to mention, the licensure fees are not cheap either.

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Final Thoughts

Jen waited for the best day to suggest online counseling to Eliza to avoid upsetting her. When Eliza agreed to try it, they worked together to find a platform that offers it for free for starters. That’s how they found the Moodpath app, which practically allows you to track your mood and be more aware of how you feel. When she felt comfortable with it, Eliza finally told her parents that she wants to try online counseling for real, and they got her a BetterHelp plan so that she can talk to a counselor anytime.

Little by little, Eliza’s mental health improved. My parents and I would see a positive change in her whenever she would come by the house. Her dark makeup became less and less; she starter to smile and laugh more easily, too. My sister was correct from the beginning – her friend was merely misunderstood and needed help.

 

Keeping Your Family Safe In The Community

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I have been living in the same suburban area since I was five years old. As some people would put it, it’s where my roots grew and ran deep. While my peers could not wait until they turned 18 to move to the city, I decided to enter a nearby state university and open a business here afterward. I loved the neighborhood so much that I bought a house next to my childhood home when I got married and had kids.

Safety-wise, there was not much to say about it. I have lived here for over 30 years, but I have never seen anyone get ran over by a car, caught due to drug possession or illegal gambling, or at least called out publicly for trivial reasons. The most intense scene I witnessed so far was when my mother vetoed a “slow down” sign in front of her yard. She said, “How could the passersby see my beautiful plants if that sign was there?”

But despite the peacefulness of a small community, I am aware that danger can still be lurking everywhere. After all, we do not live in a gated village where people need to pass through guards and get in through the residents’ invitations. It is your typical neighborhood on the outskirts of the city that anyone can go to any time. Hence, I enforced a few measures to guarantee my family’s safety.

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Install Multiple Locks On Doors And Windows

The easiest thing to do is install deadbolts on my front and back doors. I am not talking about one but two new deadbolts for each entry. Aside from those, there are also regular locks and latches attached to them. Then I had grills installed on the exterior side of the windows.

Is that too much? Perhaps, yes, but it should be understandable, especially when your goal is to keep your family safe. Even if burglars break the window, they cannot pass through the grills. If they try the doors, the multiple locks will prevent them from going in, too.

Chauffer Kids Everywhere

Did you know that more than 800,000 kids go missing in the U.S. annually? I found out about it one night when my wife and I read about the possible dangers of sending our children to school. Of course, we could not let them stay at home forever, so we decided to take turns chauffeuring them wherever they needed to be until they were old enough to drive.

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Now, it does not mean that our neighbors or the school bus drivers are not trustworthy. We all live in a single area, so we are friends with everyone. The people we don’t trust are the ones who merely pass by the neighborhood. Not to sound cynical or anything, but who knows when lawless individuals come to town and take any kid they see?

Let The Children Play Where You Can See Them

My kids were fortunate to live in a block with at least ten other children. Their moms and my wife maintain a chatroom where they plan playdates at the park or someone’s house. That’s when they also decide which parents will be looking after the kids while they are playing.

I have been on-board with this scheme ever since I learned about it. It ensures that the children will always be supervised by adults who treat them like their own. Because of that, none of us need to worry about leaving our kids to an underaged babysitter who cannot protect them during an emergency.

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Put Everyone—Including Yourself—On A Curfew

Every night, all the doors at home are already locked at 9 P.M. sharp. The children can stay up until 11 o’clock on Friday and Saturday nights, and we can go out with friends and family for dinner, but everyone must be inside the house before that time.

I know that a curfew seems a little too strict or old-fashioned for some folks’ taste, but we need to ensure our safety. After all, many accidents occur at night, and the best way to avoid them is by going home early and staying there until the sun rises. This rule applies to every member of my household, including me.

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Final Thoughts

I have always heard people claim that accidents are unavoidable when they are meant to happen. It may be true—I believe in fate, too—but it is not a reason to try everything to avoid experiencing them. That is especially necessary when it is not only your life that may be in danger but also your family’s. I do not know what I will do if I go to work one day and then get a call about my wife or children being in real trouble in our community due to my overly trusting attitude.

Follow every tip mentioned above to keep your family safe in your neighborhood as well. Good luck!

 

 

Psychological Effects Of Child Abuse And Neglect

While most are busy with the 2019 Singles Day Event, children worldwide are constantly experiencing maltreatment. Maltreatment comes in the form of abuse like physical, verbal, emotional, sexual, and neglect.  The initial and visible result of damage may seem only skin deep like bruises, cuts, and marks. But these physical wounds, though painful, will heal quickly.

The emotional trauma is the bigger picture of child abuse and neglect. This trauma doesn’t heal overnight and can have long term effects and may lead to more severe problems growing up. Here are some of the grave repercussions of child abuse and neglect.

Depression

Abuse during childhood is a common cause of adult depression. Unpleasant experiences from childhood can alter brain chemistry and structure.

When abuse happens, there is an increase in stress hormones. These hormones cause the early depression symptoms like interrupted sleep, negative feelings, and loss of enthusiasm. But when the abuse gets adequately addressed, there is a good possibility of preventing the adverse effects.

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Low Self-esteem

A person’s self-esteem develops while growing up when they start to recognize their sense of self. For children, how they view themselves are dependent on their caregivers. By how these authority figures see them, the child internalizes it and forms a self-image. 

Children who are victims of neglect find it hard to develop their self-image, or if they do, it might be a misrepresentation. Most victims carry this self-image until later on in life when they barely learn to develop self-esteem.

Anxiety

Children who were brought up in an abusive environment and had traumatic experiences tend to develop coping responses. They learn to constantly anticipate future trauma and always in an attempt to manage it. This foretelling induces anxiety.

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These effects of child abuse and neglect are not dead ends because there are available treatments. A combination of medications, regular therapy, and a reliable support system can ease these undesirable consequences of a sad and bitter past.

Effects Of Maltreatment On Children

During the 2017 Justice Conference, several points and discussions were raised regarding violence against children. One of the critical topics discussed was how maltreatment affected a child’s way of living. Children are one of the most vulnerable members of our society, and they must be shielded with rights and protection to prevent future abuses.

Here are some effects of maltreatment on children.

Harmful Coping Mechanisms And Behaviors

Long-term maltreatment, such as physical, sexual, and psychological violence, may cause a child to resort to different coping mechanisms. They are more likely to smoke, drink alcohol, and use drugs, among others. A child may also experience psychological problems such as anxiety, and depression, and suicide ideation.

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Brain Development Impairment

Studies show that prolonged child abuse may lead to impairments in intellectual development, such as verbal intelligence. Problems in school, like low grades and poor performance during class activities, are some of the evident findings in maltreated children. Early maltreatment may also result in the damage of the central nervous system, which is essential in child development.

High-Risk Sexual Behavior

Children who experienced sexual abuse may tend to adopt high-risk sexual behaviors. On the six studies conducted regarding sexually-abused preschoolers, 35% of them showed inappropriate sexual behaviors toward their peers. These behaviors may lead to unwanted pregnancies, abortion, and reproductive health problems such as sexually transmitted diseases and gynecological issues.

Severe Injuries And Death

Children cannot defend themselves physically when they are abused or maltreated in their own homes. According to the World Health Organization, homicide is one of the top three causes of deaths in children and adolescents, with 80% of victims being boys. Some causes of death include battering, stabbing, strangulation, and drowning. There are also reports that children sustain severe physical injuries because of assault.

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Child maltreatment can be prevented. Several programs are beneficial for both the child and the parents. The earlier the intervention, the lesser the chances of these effects taking place in the child’s life and persisting until they grow up. Many programs from the government and humanitarian organizations are useful in informing parents about children’s rights and the possible sanctions if they violated these rights.

What Are The Different Fake Beliefs About Therapists

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“Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity” is the definition provided by the World Health Organization (WHO). However, in this fast-paced, innovative and competitive world, it has come to everyone’s attention that one out of four people in the world had a mental illness or neurological disorder at some part of their lives. It leads to more people seeking help through professional care like therapists.

Even though therapists have been a great aid to people with mental illness, they are still a shrouded subject, and there are still several myths that came about. Because of these myths, patients are then doubtful and holding back to consult or seek guidance from them even though they are professionals.

To put an end to these incorrect beliefs, here are some of the realities behind some myths.

The Beliefs And Realities

People become therapists because they have their issues to deal with.

There are instances where people have a misconception that therapists are people with a personal burden and want it resolved, so they chose a career that can help them with the said problem. It is true that therapists are human and they have issues and problems from time to time, but it should be taken to account the state ethics board, and licensing requirements work hand-in-hand to ensure these professionals are mentally fit and capable to work.

Therapists often want to talk about your childhood.

Sure, it is always helpful to know where the patient is coming from and to know if the cause of the problem stems from early childhood. However, therapists always work with the needs of the client. The flow of the conversation continuously varies depending on the needs, goals, and aims of the clients.

Having a therapist is expensive.

Most people hold back from consulting therapists because of the notion, “it is expensive to talk to one.” But there is a lot of options for people who want to seek help from these professionals. Ryan Howes, PhD, said, “Therapy prices range from free in some community clinics to almost-lawyer hourly rates in the nation’s top private practices.” Patients could have a free consultation in community clinics or hourly rates in hospitals.  

There is no need for therapists when you can talk to your good friends.

Having someone giving moral support during difficult times is essential. Still, therapists provide a different kind of relationship to his/her patient. How? Therapists are highly professionals that can help you diagnose your condition accurately and give you treatment for the situation you have.

Besides, opening issues to friends can result in divided attention because friends will also have something to open up. With therapists, the whole session focuses on the patient alone. Jacqueline Baulch, PhD, wrote, “You can let go of the need to check-in with and take care of others. Your sessions give you time to focus solely on yourself.”

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Therapists will shame you and blame you for your condition.

Some patients have this fear of getting blamed and invalidated when opening themselves to experts like a therapist. Initial thoughts like, “Am I the only one feeling this,” “Is this normal,” “Maybe I’m overreacting,” and the like arise. Having these thoughts are healthy, but you should also consider good therapists who prioritize patients, show compassion, and have the goal of leading the patient to emotional peace.

What Do Therapists Actually Do

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Therapist’s primary job is to help clients to improve their lives, bring back mental health, diagnose the sickness, and provide the right treatment. Besides these primary jobs, listed below are some of the other services therapists offer for the patients:

  • Listen and comfort their clients
  • Analyze their client’s present issues
  • Analyze how the client’s past affect his or her current condition
  • Diagnose the mental health and help reduce the symptoms diagnosed
  • Treat the state of the patient at their own pace
  • Educate patients on how to improve their relationship with others and their relationship with themselves

These are just some of the things therapists do to help their patients get back to good shape. Also, these are some of the realities everybody needs to consider before believing in the myths surrounding therapists.

Summary

Mental health is a condition everyone should take seriously. If there is something wrong, something bothering, or something substantial a person is feeling, an action should be considered. Don’t be afraid to visit experts like therapists as they are willing to help clients and patients be aware of their condition. They are eager to listen and give comfort. Also, they are always ready to be the company someone needs in overcoming the issues their patients have. Ari Tuckman, PsyD, wrote that “a therapist is trained to understand these matters more deeply and therefore is able to offer more than just good advice.” Therapists will help you get back to a healthy mental state.