What is Talk Therapy?

What is Therapy? | Your Guide to Psychotherapy | TherapyRoute

In my next series, we will be discussing what therapy is, how to get the most out of therapy, and therapy misconceptions.

Psychotherapy, or “talk therapy”, is a treatment for mental and emotional health. It centers around addressing a person’s feelings, emotions, behaviors, and thinking patterns. Clinicians develop treatment plans and goals to address specific issues. Therapists can also use certain means of treatments or “modalities” such as cognitive behavior therapy which focuses on how our thoughts influence our emotions and feelings. Therapists also provide “psychoeducation”, such as more information about your diagnosis or ways to improve your mental health. Therapists may also give homework assignments and ways for the client to practice certain techniques between sessions. The most important part of therapy is developing a “therapeutic relationship” where the client feels comfortable with the therapist. Therapy is a collaborative process with both the client and therapist bringing topics into the session. Therapists are non-judgmental and objective in their thinking. They are the perfect person to bring their issues to as an outside observer.

Therapy Concepts Everyone Needs to Know | NAMI: National Alliance on Mental  Illness

Therapists are meant to give options and feedback to the client, NOT advice which is a common misconception. What happens in sessions remains confidential and is only discussed with supervisors or other professionals as needed. If a client is determined to be at risk as harming themselves or others, we are mandated to report this for the safety of everyone.

Psychotherapy: Definition, Types, Techniques, Efficacy

Therapy can be for everyone and not necessarily only for people with severe mental health challenges. Often, diagnosis must be made for insurance reimbursement and do not always reflect the issues that are being treated. For example, the best treatment for situational depression and anxiety is to process is through talk therapy.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): Definition, Types, Techniques,  Efficiency

There are different types of clinicians and I am a licensed master’s level social worker. This means that I am required to receive supervision to review my clients and any issues that come up with them. This is often 1 hour per week individually or in a group. This is to help me grow as a clinician and learn how to do my job the best I can. Social workers also work in a variety of settings such as school, hospitals, and clinics, with my work primarily in community mental health and private practice.

Social Worker Job Description: Salaries, Skills, & More

WRAP: Post Crisis Plan

A Post-Crisis Top-3 Digital Marketing Action Plan – Hospitality Net World Panel

The Post Crisis Plan is the final piece to the Wellness Recovery Action Plan (WRAP). Check out the rest of the WRAP series to form your own WRAP plan.

Here are some questions and tasks to review and write into your WRAP once you feel like the crisis is over:

-What are the signs that you are out of the crisis?

-Who makes you feel safe and supported post crisis? Is there a safe place for you?

-What can people to do to help you post crisis? What people should you avoid?

-Prioritize what can be done versus what needs to get done.

-While recovering what do you need to do for yourself and how can you prevent returning to crisis?

-What are signs that the post crisis is over? Is it time to return to the daily maintenance plan?

-Review your wellness toolbox

-When are you able to start taking care of your responsibilities on your own again?

-What changes need to be made in the WRAP plan?

Crisis Stages: Post Crisis

WRAP: Safety & Crisis Planning

Creating a Crisis Plan: A Free Printable Worksheet for Safety Planning -  LindsayBraman.com

When there is risk for suicide or self-harm, it’s important to plan ahead. Let your support system know how you are feeling and a professional can do an assessment to determine the best level of care to keep you safe. These plans should be developed before you are at-risk so that you can have a solid plan ready when you are in a tough spot.

Here are some questions to consider for your personal safety plan:

  1. What are your warning signs or triggers?
  2. What are your coping skills? What gets in the way of using these skills?
  3. Who are people that you can reach out to?
  4. How can I keep myself and my surroundings safe?
  5. Who are professionals on your care team that you can contact?
  6. What are some emergency numbers that you can call?

Suicide hotline available 24 hours: 800-273-8255

Peer-run emotional support line

If you have a friend that is struggling, remember that it is proven that talking about suicide does not increase the risk of suicide. It is important for the person to get their thoughts and feelings out in the open. Always consult a professional if you know someone is a risk so that the individual can be evaluated.

Here is some simple examples of safety plans:

Grassroots Suicide Prevention on Twitter: "A safety plan can be used if you  feel you cannot stay safe from suicide. It can be helpful knowing who you  can talk to or ways
Suicide Safety Plan - Biblical Counseling Center

Therapist Aid Safety Plan

WRAP: Triggers, Early Warning Signs, and When Things are Breaking Down

The following sections are located in the middle portion of your Wellness Recovery Action Plan (WRAP). Use these writing prompts to begin to develop your WRAP!


What Does It Mean to Be 'Triggered?'

Write down your life stressors and upsetting situations.

What increases symptoms such as anxiety and depression?

What can you do to prevent these symptoms from worsening?

Early Warning Signs


What are thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that come up when you aren’t feeling well mentally?

How do you respond to these thoughts, feelings, and behaviors?

Can you cut back on anything non-essential? (ex. can you get help with household tasks and chores?)

When Things Are Breaking Down

mental health matters image 1

What are signs, symptoms, and circumstances that you are beginning to decompensate with your mental health?

Do you need more support at this time from your support system?

Is this a time when you need to take more rest?

WRAP: Daily Maintenance Plan & Wellness Toolbox

The Daily Maintenance and Wellness Toolbox are the first sections of your Wellness Recovery Action Plan (WRAP). Get some writing materials ready to start developing your WRAP with these first steps.

Daily Maintenance Plan

-What are you like when you are well and happy? Try to find a picture of yourself when you were feeling happy and keep that in your plan if you can.

Some examples: relaxed, clear-minded, playful, optimistic, reasonable, responsible, capable, curious, supportive, easy-going, patient, friendly, enthusiastic, peaceful, calm, satisfied

Wellness Toolbox

-What are some wellness tools you can put in your Wellness Toolbox to use when you are struggling? Are there any that you would like to do more research on and try out? A part of WRAP is education in that you can look more into what skills and activities can help your specific issue.

Some examples: Journaling, meditating, hobbies, calling or texting a friend, deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, grounding techniques

-List things that you need to do every day, weekly, and monthly to maintain your mental health. What are some special things that you do to treat yourself?

Some examples: Take medications, avoid caffeine, eat 3 healthy meals, 8 hours of sleep (try out some sleep tips from my blog post), spending ½ hour a day on a fun activity, exercise

Future blogs will be going into the additional segments of the WRAP tool so stay tuned!

Wellness Recovery Action Plan (WRAP) for Mental Health Support

WRAP® Wellness Recovery Action Plan at OCP - Our Community Place

It’s time to take control of your mental health by developing a personal action plan!

What is a Wellness Recovery Action Plan (WRAP)?

The Wellness Recovery Action Plan (WRAP) is a self-management and recovery tool developed in 1997 by a group of people with mental health challenges. This plan can also be used by people struggling with a variety of addictions. It is not a requirement to have a mental health diagnosis to make a WRAP, and it is great for people who are just working on managing stress. WRAP is used to monitor symptoms in order to increase self-efficacy, prepare for challenges, and improve quality of life. Your WRAP is meant to be reviewed daily and shared with your support system.

The key concepts of recovery that are bolstered by WRAP are hope, personal responsibility, education, self-advocacy, and support. These concepts are developed and maintained through following your WRAP. Remember that you are the expert on yourself and using WRAP can help to increase hope and control over your own life. It is important to educate yourself on your own struggles and experiment with different coping skills. WRAP is a combination of self-help and support that lead to better mental health outcomes.

Check out the WRAP website for more information.

**All links will be available by 1/19/22**

The parts of WRAP include:

-Daily Maintenance Plan

-Wellness Toolbox


-Early Warning Signs

-When Things are Breaking Down

Crisis Plan

-Post Crisis Plan

Comment below some ideas for your own WRAP!

Using I-Statements to Express Yourself in Relationships

What is an I-Statement?

I-Statements are a great communication tool for self-expression. They include our feeling in a situation, the reason for this feeling, and our needs from the person we are expressing our feelings to. I-Statements can also be referred to as “I” Messages.

The Power of “I” Statements (Your Magical Mental Health Tool)

Why do we use I-Statements?

-Focus on the feelings or beliefs of the speaker

-Using assertiveness and setting boundaries

-Not blaming the other person and making them want to defend themselves

-Being open and honest while describing the problem

-Taking responsibility for your own feelings and emotions

What is the importance of I-Statements?

Remember that: No one can MAKE you feel a certain way. We have to take responsibility for ourselves because we are the only ones we can control. We cannot control the outcomes of our I-Statements, but we know that we did our best to communicate in a healthy way when we clean our side of the street.

Use this blank cartoon as a way to practice your I-Statements!

Using I-Statements is an important part of the Fair Fighting skill for couples. Try out this skill with your partner, friend, family member, or co-worker and comment below on how this skill worked for you!

Using PLEASE for a Healthy Body & Mind

DBT - Emotion Regulation - PLEASE skill - YouTube

Now that we have Accumulated Positive Emotions, Built Mastery, and Coped Ahead, it is time to put into effect the PLEASE skill! There is no denying that there is a body & mind connection. It’s important to attend to your mental AND physical health to get the best grip on your emotional states. PLEASE breaks down your physical health needs into categories so that you can identify what need improvements, your progress, and what you’re doing great already. Let’s stay in our wise mind today by making healthy choices!

PL – Treat Physical Illness – Make sure you stay on top of any treatments you have for physical issues and take your medications as prescribed. Physical health has a strong tie to mental health and the way that we can handle regulating our emotions.

E – Balance Eating – We all eat some junk food once in a while. It’s not about denying yourself these treats but more about balancing your diet and eating what makes you feel healthy. Check out future posts on mindful eating to learn how to slow yourself down and really enjoy your food. Don’t eat foods that make you feel overly emotional like sugar that could lead to a crash! Really learn how your own body reacts to certain foods. Now I can get a sugar hangover if I have too much soda the night before (welcome to my 30’s!).

A – Avoid Mood-Altering Substances – Avoid drugs and alcohol or use in moderation. Know your limits and how your body reacts to certain substances. Some substances are used for medicinal purposes and it is important to know if they are actually helping or hurting you. This all depends on your own mental and physical chemistry. Some of these medicinal drugs may add to anxiety or depression. It is best to consult a professional and stay in tune with your body and mind.

S – Balance Sleep – Check out my earlier post on sleep hygiene to learn more tips for sleep. Try to get an amount of sleep that is best for you. Keep a consistent sleep and wake cycle everyday. It’s important for our bodies and mind to recharge every night with good quality sleep.

E – Get Exercise – Do a little bit of exercise daily. Take small steps into incorporating exercise into your daily schedule. Try to add more walking into your routine or add in 10 minutes of strength training a day. Hiking and walking outside are definitely two activities I love that provide exercise and an opportunity to enjoy nature.

DBT Emotion Regulation Skills: Emotion Psychoeducation & Mindfulness -  Psychotherapy Academy

Here is a cool way to track your ABC PLEASE skills with a fun bingo board:


Leave a comment below on anything you would like to add to PLEASE that has helped you stay well mentally and physically!

ABC Skill: Cope Ahead of Stressful Situations in 5 Steps

Cope Ahead: The Power of Planning How to Cope in Advance - Bay Area DBT &  Couples Counseling Center

Now that we have completed A: Accumulated Positive Emotions & B: Built Mastery, it’s time to C: Cope Ahead!

Are you anticipating that there could be an issue in the foreseeable future that is causing you anxiety before it has even happened? Do you want to feel more prepared and ready to tackle this challenge?

Learn how to cope ahead of your problems in 5 easy steps!

  1. Describe the situation that may become problematic. What are the facts of the situation? Stay objective in this thinking. What emotions and actions are going to get in the way of using coping skills? Identify those emotions and actions. For example, if you get angry and overwhelmed, you may not be able to use deep breathing techniques.
  2. Decide what coping skills you want to use and the details of these skills. For example, the specific deep breathing technique of “box breathing” will be used for 2 minutes. This is where you can breathe in 4 seconds, hold 4 seconds, breathe out 4 seconds, hold 4 seconds.
  3. Imagine what the situation will be that you need to cope with. Paint a detailed picture in your mind of what you could be dealing with. Use your 5 senses to imagine what it could be like. Pretend and visualize that you are experiencing this situation in the present moment.
  4. Rehearse how you will use your coping skills in your mind in detail. How will you act, think, and say? What can you do to cope if new problems arise in the situation. What is the worst case scenario and how can you cope with that?
  5. Relax after rehearsing. What do you do for self-care? Check out my self-care post for some ideas. Can you practice mindfulness techniques and distraction from distressing emotions? My previous grounding techniques post offers some suggestions on how to focus on the present moment to bring relaxation.

Now you are ready to face any difficult situation face on. You’ve imagined the worst case scenario and how you would cope with it. Now the foreseeable event doesn’t seem so daunting!

What are some situations that you would like to cope ahead with? Comment below!

ABC Skill: Build Mastery

Build Mastery — Nina Barlevy, Psy.D.

Building Mastery is our “B” in the ABC Skill. This step happens after we have accumulated our positive emotions and before we cope ahead. Once we have worked on some projects and figured out what we like to do, we can start to become more skilled in it to build confidence and increase our self-esteem.

  1. Pick one thing to do everyday that will help you to feel accomplished. This could be cooking one meal, doing a hobby for 30 minutes, cleaning for 10 minutes, walking for 15 minutes, etc. Set a small but achievable goal that you can definitely fit into your schedule.

2. Do not set yourself up for not accomplishing your goal. Do something that is reasonable. You aren’t going to be the master of your hobbies in one day! I love to knit and I know that my projects are never going to come out perfect. I usually drop at least 3 stitches on the way to finishing a scarf but I know that it is made with a lot of love!

3. Starting with an easy task, increase the difficulty slowly until you feel like you are beginning to master the task. Add some challenge to feel that sense of accomplishment.

For more information on how to set small and achievable goals, check out my SMART Goals post!

The Surprise of Building Mastery. And actually recognizing it when it… | by  Ashley L. Peterson | Ascent Publication