As I sat with a middle school student recently, who is struggling to succeed in school and manage her severe anxiety and depression, I could not help feeling genuinely sad. As a psychologist, I have learned how to manage my own emotions so that I can be most effective as a clinician. But this particular case really touched my heart, because it was one in which the parents had the education and resources to seek support. They chose not to, because they were very concerned about how their daughter would be perceived if she received mental health diagnoses or treatment. Fortunately, they now fully support her need for therapy and school interventions.
Perhaps the most encouraging news story in the past couple of weeks has been the announcement of Duchess Kate of Cambridge's plans to tackle the stigma associated with mental illnesses, particularly as it relates to children. She was so bold as to proclaim to the press last week that if either of her children were experiencing emotional or psychological problems, she would not hesitate to seek professional help. First lady Michelle Obama will join her in the cause. This is very good news for the field of mental health in that an endorsement of this magnitude will hopefully raise awareness of the importance of early intervention and the need for proactively addressing children's emotional and behavioral problems.
Mental health professionals contend with this issue daily, as parents hesitate to pursue early treatment for their children due to concerns about stigma attached to therapy, and fail to follow through with the recommendations of mental health providers. Perhaps the endorsement of royalty, accompanied by the support and partnership of the first lady, will put hesitant parents at ease. Let's hope so.
Almost all of us have experienced a situation in which we were hurt, betrayed, rejected, mistreated, or taken for granted. Maybe our heart was broken. Perhaps someone lied to us, stole from us, got us in trouble, destroyed our property, manipulated us, or abused us; physically, emotionally or sexually. We are justified in our pain, and even our anger, right? It's healthy to feel empowered and to fight back, right?
There are all kinds of injustices in the world. There are good ways to fight and bad ways to fight.
It's a new year, and there's a lot of talk about making changes, such as being more organized or getting better grades. But what about the changes that we don't seek? The events and circumstances that change our lives forever that we never would have included as part of a New Year's goal. Whether we experience a smaller-scale change that we don't expect, such as a friend moving away or not getting that grade we had hoped for or that promotion at work, or a large scale change such as the tragic loss of a loved one or the break up of a relationship, unplanned changes can be devastating and take a toll on us emotionally.
So, what results in good, effective therapy? It is a combination of factors that involve both the therapist and the client. Both individuals play a role in determining the outcome of therapy.