Therapy May Not Be the Answer to Your Mental Health Woes

Clinical psychologist Emily Edlynn says venting to a professional might not be for everyone
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 15, 2024 10:04 AM CDT
Therapy May Not Be the Answer to Your Mental Health Woes
Stock photo.   (Getty Images/StockRocket)

If you've been having a hard time dealing with life's stresses or anxiety, or even loneliness, making an appointment with a therapist might seem the reasonable thing to do. Not so fast, advises Emily Edlynn, a clinical psychologist who cautions that therapy shouldn't be the default for some of life's issues that we could probably deal with on our own, with the right tools. In her opinion piece for the Washington Post, Edlynn first lays out who should take advantage of therapy—namely, individuals suffering from more serious mental-health issues that are adversely affecting such things as their work, personal relationships, or sleep. But for the rest of us, we can probably continue to function on our own by accepting that sometimes we're going to feel anxious or uncomfortable, and by learning "how to feel the emotions and cope," Edlynn writes.

"Most of the time, anxiety is a healthy human emotion," fellow clinical psychologist Tracy Dennis-Tiwary tells Edlynn, noting that what often becomes worse than the anxiety itself is the resulting "meta-anxiety," or feeling anxious about being anxious. Edlynn offers a list of coping tips to tap into instead of automatically heading to the therapist's couch, including using meditation apps, listening to mental health-themed podcasts, or getting a coach (different from therapy). Only after you've exhausted recommendations such as these—or if you're considering self-harm or suicide, or those close to you have shown concern over recent behavioral shifts—should you seek professional help, Edlynn notes, comparing self-care to gardening. "A therapist can help when mental health symptoms make it hard to grab the shovel to start, but most people can be their own gardeners," she writes. More here. (More therapy stories.)

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