College might be fun but it’s hardly easy. For this reason, many students may suffer mental health challenges while trying to fulfill the prerequisites of a college degree. Many institutions of higher learning offer free counseling services for students who may experience any form of psychological stress while studying. However, some students who experience mental health challenges during their studies sometimes fail to take advantage of these services, sometimes due to the stigmatization surrounding therapy and counseling.
Here are a few things every college student should know about therapy.
- There Are Several Kinds of Therapy
When therapy is mentioned, many people immediately think of psychoanalysis, where one has to sit and talk with a professional; but in reality, there are several kinds of therapy that one could benefit from. The field of psychology employs a wide range of mental health professionals in different specialties; they also employ many unique techniques that one could choose from. Knowing the right approach for you starts with identifying your therapy goals and the specific mental health issues you’re living with. Some common mental health issues commonly experienced in college include anxiety, depression, substance abuse, and bipolar disorder among others.
Many colleges now offer innovative types of therapy such as pet therapy, a program where registered therapy dogs are brought to students who are getting overwhelmed by the stress of studying. These dogs are often gentle breeds such as the mini sheepadoodle trained specially to offer comfort to troubled souls. These puppies are trained to be smart, friendly, healthy, and hypoallergenic.
The health benefits of therapy dogs are well-documented. Research has shown that petting a dog could help reduce one’s blood pressure and even keep depression at bay. Loving a pet can help reduce stress by decreasing the levels of the hormone cortisol in the body a hormone that increases stress, and improving levels of neurochemical oxytocin, a love hormone. Students who feel uncomfortable seeking help from a psychotherapist could always opt for a friendly paw to help lessen their stress.
- They Let You Talk About Just Anything in Therapy
Many college students may choose to ignore on-campus therapy services simply because they do not think their problems are big enough to be discussed in therapy. It is a common misconception that the only people who need therapy are those with diagnosed mental health issues or extreme behavioral problems. This type of thinking is what makes individuals allow small problems to pile up until a time when it explodes into a bigger, harder-to-manage issue.
If you feel like talking to someone about anything at all bothering you or affecting your studies, you can always go and talk to a counselor. Examples of problems you can discuss with a therapist include; feeling homesick, problems with friends, boyfriend or girlfriend trouble, a death in your family, and bad performance in a test or exam among other everyday college problems. In 2021, a study by the University of Michigan reported that anxiety and depression reached record levels among college students. Many people have been able to avoid dropping out of school simply by discussing these problems with a professional the moment they occur. Finding the right balance between college work and good mental health is one of the most important tips for completing a college degree.
- You Can Choose Your Hours
Sometimes it may seem that 24 hours in a day is hardly enough for college students to get through all their responsibilities and commitments. This may have some students who may need therapy services wondering if they have enough time in a day to spend talking to a therapist. The good news is that therapy doesn’t have to be daily or even weekly. It can be just as frequent or as sporadic as you’ll like it to be.
You can always choose the most convenient schedule. Some people may decide to go twice a week, or once a month, depending on their needs and the number of hours they have to spare.
However, many therapists recommend consistent treatment as it is the most effective; so, these days therapy sessions via zoom, Facetime or phone calls or specially built therapy apps have become a lot more common for people who for some reason may not be able to make it to their therapist regularly. This way one can build their therapy sessions around their college schedule and avoid having huge gaps between therapy sessions.
- You Can Choose to Change Your Therapist
You’ve probably heard stories of people who quit therapy after the first try simply because they did not feel at ease with their therapist. No one should have to talk to someone about their issues if they do not feel comfortable with the person. For this reason, it is advised that you look around for a therapist who suits your personality and your needs. If you feel uneasy after a session with someone, never fail to ask if you could be assigned to a different therapist. You can also try group therapy versus individual therapy options to see which works best for you.