Let’s talk about talk therapy

Stepping into a therapist’s office two years ago changed my life, and I think it would for others as well. Talk therapy has huge benefits and should be an emotional foundation for teenagers to seek out.


by Claire Smith, Design Editor

Sept. 18, 2018, I walked into a therapist’s office for the first time. Summer was fleeting, sophomore year was gaining speed, and I was struggling with both. I had been battling my demons for years leading up to that summer, but something shifted in my mindset in August 2018. I went up to my mom and said “I want to see a therapist.” 

Frankly, the reaction was not great; she was shocked that I had brought it up in the first place. I had never shown interest in going to therapy, and I had good communication with both of my parents about my day to day struggles. But I needed a new, third person perspective from someone who could give me professional advice on what I was dealing with mentally at the time. She was confused as to why I couldn’t go to her anymore with those problems, but I simply told her it was a different type of conversation that needed to be had. 

Talk therapy is professionally called psychodynamic therapy. According to Psych Central, “the goals of psychodynamic therapy are a client’s self-awareness and understanding of the influence of the past on present behavior….a psychodynamic approach enables the client to examine unresolved conflicts and symptoms that arise from past dysfunctional relationships and manifest themselves.” 

I have been seeing the same talk therapist since then and it changed my life. We are not deep-diving into my psyche and divulging my deepest darkest issues in every visit. Rather, most sessions we just talk about what’s going on in my life: social dynamics, stress, things that wear me down more than they should, the usual stuff I could talk about with my parents. But the major differences were professional perspective and advice. 

Visiting a therapist not only obtains an outsider’s perspective, but also allows your mind to lay out the emotional strain of situations. For me, talking through social grievances helps me to see what’s truly going on in the situation emotionally.

According to Psychology Today, “Research confirms that psychodynamic psychotherapy is highly effective… One major study found an ‘effect size’—a measure of treatment benefit—of 0.97 for psychodynamic psychotherapy. For [cognitive behavioral therapy] 0.68 is a typical effect size. For antidepressant medication, the average effect size is 0.31.”

For clarification, cognitive behavioral therapy focuses on current issues and behavior patterns to physically change. As previously stated, psychodynamic psychotherapy is another term for talk therapy, which dives into past and present issues that could cause rooted emotional distress. 

I understand that while many would be open to receiving talk therapy, the opportunity does not often present itself. Finding the right therapist can be a challenge and the expenses of therapy are not often totally covered by health insurance. 

Mental health services are covered by the Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act. According to the American Psychological Association, “The parity law prevents insurers from putting a firm annual limit on the number of mental health sessions that are covered [by insurance]. However, insurance companies can still manage your care…They will evaluate your case to determine whether additional treatment is ‘medically necessary’ according to their criteria.”

The loophole of determining mental health care according to their standards leaves a lot of families and teenagers helpless financially for therapy. The parity law is a step in the right direction for national mental health services, but it rarely is emphasized or useful in attaining mental health coverage. 

Mental health care should be covered by health insurance, and so many people are deprived of care because of it. Talk therapy is a foundation of a healthy mindspace and lifestyle that should be available and offered to everyone. The benefits of it should be available to everyone and should be taken advantage of by all teenagers no matter the circumstances. Therapy changed my life and has the capacity to change the lives of so many.