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Getting therapy

A therapist listening to a girl.

Mental health illnesses are real medical illnesses. Nearly half of all Americans have signs of a mental illness at some point in life. So if it happens to you or someone close to you, you are not alone. Getting help from a therapist because you are feeling sad or anxious is no different than getting help from a doctor because you have a broken arm. So don’t be embarrassed or afraid to go to the therapist.

What is therapy? Therapy is when you talk to someone who is a professional counselor about your problems. If you are going through a rough time, such as family troubles or problems in school, you might feel more supported if you talk to a therapist. Therapists can help you sort out your feelings if you are angry, sad, or overwhelmed by what’s been happening.

Even if you take care of your body and mind, you could still get a mental illness. Even experts don’t know the exact cause of most mental illnesses. Sometimes mental illnesses run in families. Other times they are caused by changes in the brain. Still other times they are started by a crisis, trauma, violence, or abuse.

Help is available for mental health problems. If you feel out of control, or feel like a mental health problem keeps you from enjoying life, ask for help. If you have health insurance, it may help pay for therapy. You and your family can learn more about getting help paying for mental health services.

Kinds of therapy

Treatments can help you feel better and be happy again. The best treatment depends on the type of problem that you are facing. It may be one-on-one talk therapy. This is when you talk to a doctor or a counselor alone. Or you may join group therapy, where you talk with other people like yourself along with a counselor. You may also do art therapy (where you paint, or draw) or play therapy (where you actually get to play).

Your doctor may prescribe medication to make your symptoms better. Sometimes people use talk therapy and medicine, together.

It’s important to find a place that you trust. If you feel you are not getting better, keep trying. If you still are not feeling better, there may be another person, type of therapy, or place that can work better. Tell your mom, dad, or guardian about how you are feeling.

Just because you see a therapist doesn’t mean that you will have to see one forever. Therapists can teach you new skills to deal with your problems, so that you can do it on your own in the future. Sometimes only a few sessions are needed to learn the new skills.

Web support groups

There are lots of support groups available on the Internet, for everything from different kinds of cancer to your feelings. Remember, though, that while the Internet may be a form of support, it’s important to get in touch with a real person if you are having trouble coping with your feelings! This is especially important if you are thinking about suicide or hurting yourself. Don’t turn to the Internet for help — pick up the phone and call 9-1-1 or talk to a trusted adult.

Learn more about being safe on the Internet in the Safety section.

Read more about Going to a Therapist


Content last reviewed May 18, 2010
Page last updated October 31, 2013