Is Online Therapy Right for Me?

Online therapy or telemental health is different from counseling or therapy because it is not face to face and is typically not good for critical situations. However, online counseling is great for those who have questions about their mental health or want to learn how to manage anger, anxiety, depression, or learn how to have a better relationship.

Online therapy can be done via video conference or telephone. This can be a great alternative to an office visit. The benefits include working around your schedule. There is also increased privacy as a result of not having to come to a clinic and be seen by others. Online counseling is also very beneficial for people who are not yet ready to come to therapy or are unable to do so because of their busy schedule, travel, or other challenge. A great deal of time is saved, as well as travel expenses.

Anger and Disrespect

Out of my work with all the anger management clients, I am told that “being disrespected” is the number one thing that makes them angry. This makes sense. Who would not be angry with being disrespected?

Here is my question: What does it mean to be disrespected. My clients have a variety of answers for this one. I do not think there is any one consensus on the definition of “being disrespected.” It is a feeling that people get and they know it when they see it. Since this feeling is rather subjective, I want to point out that there is a great possibility that its the person’s thinking that is causing them to feel disrespected, even when there is truly no disrespect.

A person often feels disrespected when, for example, their child does not do as they are told. However, does the child say, “I want to disrespect my parent by not doing as I am told.”? I really doubt that. The problem here is the parent views the behavior as “disrespectful,” instead of seeing that there may be many reasons the child does not do as he/she is told (because they simply don’t want to do it, they have ADHD, they have some strong negative feeling and so on).

I encourage my clients to look at the actions behind another person’s “disrespect.” A lot of people behave in a “disrespectful” manner because they are scared, they are trying to look tough to cover insecurities, they are blind to their own behavior, or they are simply angry in general.

If you immediately tell yourself that you are being disrespected when a person does not behave the way you want them to, remind yourself that you are jumping to conclusions and then think about the alternative reasons the person is acting that way. Few people make it a goal to disrespect others.

Why Pay for Health Care?

Money is a sensitive subject for most. I can’t blame anyone for wanting to save money or cringing when they have to spend money on health care. I will never forget when I worked at Wal-Mart while in school and seeing people get very angry when they thought they were charged one or two dollars more then they should have.

I think there is something that makes us think we should not have to spend money on our own health care or it should be very cheap. Where does this belief come from? I don’t know. It would be great if it were true. However, it is not free or even cheap in this country. I wish it were.

When the average person pays $1000 to fix their car, they normally don’t like it, but go ahead and do it because they need it to be fixed. After spending that money, they see the value in it and go on. Ironically, when a client spends just a fraction of this sum of money on health care, such as coming to counseling (Which most of my clients don’t spend any ways near $1000.) or going to a doctor, they don’t want to do it, complain, avoid it, try to get out of paying and so on.

What is wrong with this picture of people not seeing health care, such as counseling, as valuable as something like getting their car fixed? The car will last a few more years at best. When a person spends money on their own health, such as counseling, that will often last many years and often change their life for the long term. It is very possible that counseling will also benefit family, friends, and others.

Ask yourself if your mental health is worth a few hundred dollars…I know your car is likely worth many times more to you.

Anger Iceberg

Anger is like an iceberg. There is that tip that is sticking out, which everyone sees. So, it is not difficult to see when a person is angry. However, Icebergs have about 90% more to them that what meets the eye. Anger is the same way.

Anger is the symptom. Symptom of what? Well, it is different for each person. Many people’s anger iceberg includes fears, insecurities, bottled up frustrations, hurt pride, feelings of disrespect, and various other emotions.

Given that it is usually quite easy to see a person’s anger, but difficult to see the rest of their anger iceberg, the task of helping a person reduce his or her anger often takes a bit of detective work. The best way to control a person’s anger is for them to ask “What is making me feel this way?” When the person examines his or her feelings causing the anger, then the problem can be addressed. If there is simply a focus on deep breathing, counting to ten and meditation, this will only treat the symptom and is doomed to fail in the long run.

Here are some quick one liners that a person can repeat to reduce anger:

  • Will [whatever makes me angry] matter one year from now? Will it matter one week from now?
  • What right do I have that is being violated?
  • How would the average person respond to this?
  • How is getting angry about this really going to change anything?
  • Other than anger, what else am I feeling?
  • What belief do I have that is making me angry? Is that belief reasonable?

Family Therapy

Depending on the situation, family therapy is often one of the more helpful options. Think about this: We are all impacted by those around us. This means that we are all part of a system. If one person goes to therapy and changes, but the other family members (system) do not change, then how can we expect lasting results?

I encourage all of my clients to bring friends and family members to therapy. This will help to improve the environment for all. This also provides an opportunity for another person’s opinion and perspective to be brought into the room, which may shed new light on problems that are being worked on and point out progress that has been made.

Family therapy can be as simple as bringing one family member or bringing your entire household. I recognize that a person is not always comfortable discussing everything in front of their family members. That is why I often do some individual sessions as a chance to allow the client some privacy.

Family therapy is most helpful for:

  • Family communication problems
  • Children with behavior problems
  • A person who wants additional support in therapy
  • A person who needs therapy, but will not come alone

Nerves and First Visit

A lot of people are very nervous about their first visit to a therapist. Whether this is their first time in therapy or if this is the first visit to a new therapist, it can be very nerve-racking!

It may take some pressure off to realize that a first visit is a time for both client and therapist to get to know one another. There are no obligations at this point to have further sessions. If you like the therapist, then you can schedule a another appointment. If you do not care for the therapist, then you can let the therapist know that you do not feel it will be a good match and keep looking for someone who you think will be able to help you.

Doing anything the first time is often uncomfortable and difficult. Usually, with time, things get much easier. Be brave and make that first visit. Remember that it is your choice if you continue in therapy.

Mental Health vs. Mental Illness

We hear so much about Mental Illness on a regular basis. That is one of those terms that is frequently thrown around. Actually, I don’t care for the term at all. Who wants to be told they have a Mental Illness? I doubt many do.

I come from the perspective of Mental Health. Instead of concentrating on illness or problems, I help my clients focus on the positives. Just think, if a therapist focuses on the symptoms of Mental Illness, most of the time and energy is spent discussing the problem, which is demotivating.

When the focus is on Mental Health, the time and energy is spent on being healthy. Everyone has good things about their Mental Health. I want to help my clients to build on what they already have.

If you look at the term Mental Illness, it implies that there is a biological basis, which is causing a mental problem. Although some people do have a biological basis for their problems, well over half of my clients do not have any biologically based problems. Anyone’s Mental Health can suffer due to problems with family, work, friends, and other stressors. Therefore, I stay away from the Mental Illness perspective as much as possible and focusing on helping the client improve Mental Health.

I Can’t…

One of the things that really gets me is when a person spends several minutes telling me why he or she cannot do something. Think about it…how many people do you know who spend so much of their time and energy telling you why they can’t do something? I bet you can think of a few.

Here is a thought…instead of telling people why you cannot do something, tell people what you are wanting to do. When you spend all of that time and energy explaining why you cannot do something or why something won’t work, you are left with very little time and energy to actually accomplish something! You have a limited time and energy–why waste it on discussing why you can’t do something.

You have to make things happen by talking about what you are going to do. I have never seen anyone get anywhere by complaining about what they don’t have. Remember, “If there is no wind, ROW”– a Latin proverb.

Yearly Mental Health Checkup

You are supposed to get a yearly physical, right? What about a yearly mental? 🙂 How many people check their mental health on a yearly basis–even if there does not seem to be a problem? Few people actually do this. However, I can think of at least one of my friends that does something like this.

Why go for a mental health exam if you do not need it? There are so many people that have stress creep up on them without seeing it. This is a great way to use the help of a professional to see if stress is becoming an issue. Also, it is a great time to look at what successes you have had the past year and what you need to accomplish.

Once you start a dialogue with a mental health professional, you will likely be surprised at the successes you have had and also those challenges that may benefit from a bit of consultation.

Marriage Counseling

People often come to me for marriage counseling. Actually, I prefer to call it couples counseling because I see all types of couples- many who do not fit into that marriage category.

I come from the perspective that both people in the relationship have some responsibility for the good things in the relationship, as well as the bad stuff. Often I get a partner in the relationship or marriage who states that it is all the other person’s fault. As we talk more, it becomes more and more apparent to both people that there is responsibility on each side.

In a typical marriage counseling or couples therapy session, I help the pair find their strengths in the relationship, as well as what they need to work on. Often, there is a focus on communication skills. Once the communication improves, the rest of of the relationship often follows. I also help to facilitate communication between the couple. Maybe there is a topic that is so touchy that it cannot be discussed without a huge fight. I can help by acting as the moderator. We’ll all handle it in a therapeutic way.

I offer extended sessions for marriage counseling and couples therapy. Often, the standard 45 minutes session is not enough. I have the option of a two hour session to help you get down to business.