Mental Health Matters

Prioritizing mental health is important, particularly during the darkest, coldest months of the year. While it is common to feel a bit down after the holidays, feelings of sadness tend to resolve themselves as circumstances change. When behavioral and emotional problems begin to interfere with relationships and disrupt daily life, it may be time to seek help from a mental health professional.

Erin Bircher, a licensed therapist, life coach and owner of Foundations4Change in Cary, weighs in.

When should a person seek therapy?

When the problems or struggles that you are dealing with are starting to negatively affect other areas in your life. For example, if work stress is causing problems in your relationship with your family or affecting your health, seeking therapy could be helpful. Problems do not go away when they are ignored — they start to leak over into other areas of your life.

What is the most important thing to look for in a therapist?

The most important aspect is having a good rapport with your therapist and feeling that it’s the right fit. If you don’t feel safe and comfortable with who you are working with, you will not get as much out of the counseling experience.

What can a patient expect when going into their first appointment?

The first session typically consists of having paperwork completed and going over the guidelines regarding confidentiality. Once a therapist has gone over their approach and expectations, the client will provide a history or background of the presenting concern/problem and discuss what they would like to get out of therapy.

What options are available to those who do not have the budget to afford therapy?

Some therapists can offer a discounted rate, so it’s always worth asking. There are great online resources, articles, books, workbooks, podcasts and apps that can be helpful. For apps, I recommend Moodfit, Calm, Insight Timer, Mindshift, Headspace and Happify.

What are some of the biggest misconceptions surrounding therapy?

That only people with severe mental health problems seek counseling and that people should be able to just deal with the curve balls that life throws at them. That your personal information will be shared, and therapy will either not do anything or make things worse. That therapy is for the weak, when it takes a strong person to be vulnerable.

What are the benefits of having a therapist?

Gaining more insight into yourself and how you operate in the world can only be beneficial.  Working on yourself and ensuring that you are living the life you desire, operating in alignment with your value system and setting boundaries will help you have a healthier and more fulfilling life.




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