Mariana Plata

@mariana-plata | contributor
I enjoy writing and creating awareness about mental health related topics – particularly pertinent to parents, young women and other professionals in the field of psychology and/or education.
Mariana Plata

Benefits of Freelance Writing About Mental Health

Earlier this year, I decided to take the leap into the freelance writing world. My passion for writing has always been a part of me — you can ask my 9-year-old self who religiously turned to her journal every afternoon after school. But, it’s only recently I decided to blend my two passions (psychology and writing) into a career: freelance mental health writing. A side-hustle, hobby, passion or whatever you want to call it, I’m sure that as a writer you can relate to what I’m about to say: Nothing could have prepared me for what embarking on this journey was going to be like. Anytime you venture into freelancing, it will be a challenge, and some of the tough  aspects  of writing will, at times, be soul-crushing to your motivation. This is why there is so much importance given towards practicing  self-care as a freelancer. For me, it has been exciting, frustrating, disappointing, humbling and challenging all at once. But one of the aspects I wasn’t anticipating at all was how much it was going to do for my mental health. I’ve been an advocate for talk therapies and counseling for as long as I can remember, but after being in this world for a few months, I can actually say I’m an advocate of writing as a mental health booster, as well. 1. It can act preventively towards depression and anxiety symptoms. Mental health professionals have used writing in our practice for a long time, and the  connection  between psychology and writing has always been there.  Journalling , for instance, has proven to be a successful technique for psychotherapy. It has given patients a lot of independence and autonomy in the therapeutic process while also increasing their self-awareness about their own struggles. Writing and sharing an experience about a diagnosis has  helped  many to cope with mental health issues. In my case, writing helped me get through a professional and personal rut I was going through earlier this year. It was an outlet to put myself out there and share my thoughts with an audience. The feedback and motivation I experienced throughout my first publications were enough to get me off my binge-watching habits (which I’m sure, looking back now, were covering a potential depression episode), and into a more productive and much more improved mental health state. 2. It allows you to connect with other people. When your writing gets published — whether it’s digital or print — you’re sharing a tiny part of yourself with others. Your content has the potential to resonate with people, and there’s nothing more rewarding than having people connect with what you have to say. We live in a digital world, where social media is our main form of communication. Some might love it, some might hate it, but we all have to agree it is there. As writers working in this digitalized era, we need to feel comfortable with social media. It’s the main way all publications are able to connect with people and, as such, it is one of the main ways we are able to connect with our readers. Checking in once in awhile (note: not obsessively gawking over your publication’s social media feed) will allow you to clue in on how people are responding to your writing. As a mental health writer, my content has a more serious feel to it, aimed at a very specific type of audience. Reading comments on my articles such as, ¨this is so true!¨ or, ¨this is worth sharing,¨ has been one of the best bonuses of embarking on this writing journey. Praise and recognition have  proven  to have positive effects on our brain’s reward system, causing the release of ¨good feeling hormones.¨ When working at an office with more people, it’s easier to receive those types of recognition on a regular basis. As a freelancer, though, when we spend countless hours of our days by ourselves, it’s that much more difficult to elicit these type of positive responses. Which is why positive comments and people’s connections — whether online or in person — are so important and beneficial to our mental health. Although the feedback is not always positive, it’s important to stay focused on those who are able to connect with your writing and your voice. These are the people who will move your writing from now on. This is your newfound audience. 3. It’s incredibly empowering to see your thoughts on paper(ish). Freelance writing is not an easy task. It’s a job that requires the same type of discipline (if not more) than any regular desk job. It goes through a process of generating ideas, outlining them, creating drafts, editing, re-arranging, writing and so much more. When writers are going through creative peaks, we might be able to complete a piece within an hour or two. However, this is far from the rule of thumb. Some days we wake up and it’s difficult to tap into that productivity. Regardless of all the investment of time and creativity, it’s all worth it when we are able to see tangible evidence of our work. When we are able to see our content out there, (hopefully) published in our favorite publications. As writers, we have chosen this way of communication because we feel we can make an impact on our readers. Whether it’s about fashion, travel, business or mental health, educating is our drive to share our ideas through this medium. When we feel empowered, our self-worth and happiness almost immediately have a positive impact, as well. Writing is such a cathartic and fulfilling experience on its own. When you add to that the opportunity of connecting with others who love what you write and can relate to it, the craft becomes so much more enjoyable. We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here . Unsplash photo via Photo by Juliette Leufke on Unsplash

Mariana Plata

4 Ways to Teach Your Kids About Caring for Their Mental Health

In this overwhelming world, where technology and an increase in stimulation can often overwhelm our children, I think it’s important for parents and child specialists to learn how they can best teach children to care for their mental health. I believe a lot of mental health understanding has to do with the way we communicate with our kids in the short periods of time we are alone with them; whether it’s in the car ride back home, carpooling to school or spending time together as a family. Here are four ways to teach your kids to care for their mental health: 1. Teach them to listen to their bodies. Evidence has shown that there is something called a gut-brain connection, which explains why we feel ¨butterflies¨ when we are feeling anxious or scared. Our bodies are constantly sending us messages about our emotional state: we might get teary-eyed when we are sad, or feel our ears get ¨hot¨ when we are angry. When our child is experiencing one of these strong emotions, it’s important to ask, ¨Where do you feel it in your body?¨ Not only will this allow them to become more aware of their bodies emotional response, but tuning into these subtle bodily changes might allow them to better distinguish what they might be feeling at a certain time. 2. Set up ¨as if¨ scenarios. When we take our children to watch movies, or we watch TV shows with them, we often witness storylines filled with complex characters and conflicts. This is a wonderful opportunity to bring up ¨as if¨ imaginative wanderings. ¨What would you do if you were in that situation? What would you do if someone comes up and says that to you? Who would you tell about something bad happening at school?¨ Setting up these scenarios can help kids prepare themselves for possible situations, and during these brief interactions with you, they can start to build their emotional toolbox for dealing with adversity. 3. Broaden their emotional vocabulary. When children are young, we can easily identify their emotional states: hungry, tired, sad, mad, scared or happy. However, as children grow older, they might experience more complex hardships at school and during other extra curricular activities. Situations that entail even more difficult and complex emotions than the ones previously mentioned. In her book, ¨The Gifts of Imperfection,¨ Brené Brown talks about how emotions like shame get in the way of us truly talking about our feelings. Shame and guilt are often tough emotions to comprehend — even for adults, let alone for kids. There are so many emotions out there: excitement, anticipation, frustration, hurt, shame, humiliation, joy, fear, nostalgia, disappointment, among many others. When we are able to accurately recognize and label what our kids are feeling, we can help them develop a rich emotional dictionary, one that will allow them to thrive in future relationships as adults. 4. Answer their questions with curiosity. Sometimes our children tell us more with their questions than they actually do with their answers. This isn’t a conundrum. Often times, children will ask us questions about situations that might seem random to us as adults. If we are able to answer back with curiosity instead of abruptly trying to answer or brushing off their questions, we might learn a lot about what’s going on in their minds. For example, when they ask about a catastrophe and why it happened, you might answer back with, ¨Why do you think it happened?¨ When we give them back the power of using a hypothesis, we start allowing them to make connections about their own mental health. These are just a few ways we can actively participate in helping our children learn to care for their own mental health. The most important thing is that we, as adults, need to be willing to practice what we preach. We can’t expect our children to be open to talking about their feelings when we don’t model those same behaviors. Although not always the case, the more open you can be about caring for your mental health as a family goal, the more you can help prevent mental health difficulties in the future. We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here . Thinkstock photo via monkeybusinessimages

Mariana Plata

Why Pink's VMA's Speech Is a Message All Parents Should Hear

Last night, Pink was awarded the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard award at the 2017 VMA’s, and she used her speech to share a compelling story about her daughter. “Recently, I was driving my daughter to school and she said to me, out of the blue, ‘Mama?’ I said, ‘Yes, baby?’ She said, ‘I’m the ugliest girl I know.’ And I said, ‘Huh?’ And she was like, ‘Yeah, I look like a boy with long hair.’ And my brain went to ‘Oh my god, you’re 6. Why? Where is this coming from? Who said this? Can I kick a 6-year-old’s ass, like what?’” Unfortunately, this is a conversation many parents face. It must be utterly heartbreaking to hear your daughter at 6-years-old, start being so self-conscious about her body, her looks and her self-worth. Which is why Pink’s response to her daughter was absolutely magical: “…And I said to her, ‘Do you see me growing my hair?’ She said, ‘No, Mama.’ I said, ‘Do you see me changing my body?’ ‘No, Mama.’ ‘Do you see me changing the way I present myself to the world?’ ‘No, Mama.’ ‘Do you see me selling out arenas all over the world?’ ‘Yes, Mama.’ ‘OK! So, baby girl. We don’t change. We take the gravel and the shell and we make a pearl. And we help other people to change so they can see more kinds of beauty.’” This is the type of conversations we must have with our children. It is our responsibility to empower them and show them their beauty when they’re not capable of seeing it themselves. But, before we do this, we need to believe it first.   Pink’s message is powerful because she doesn’t resort to dismissing her daughter’s beliefs to, “Oh, honey, you’re beautiful just the way you are.” She uses her own example as an active model for her child. She transforms the reductionist value society has placed over the physical image, into an empowering value of our inner beauty and inner strength. More importantly, the stereotype that body image and self-worth only affect girls are long gone, and we must be ready to empower rather than silence. Media, peer pressure and societal standards have all forced an unreal expectation of what we should all look like. It is our responsibility to challenge these expectations and actively redefine beauty within our new generations. We are forever grateful to Pink for redefining beauty standards and giving us all a lesson about what body positivity parenting looks like. We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here . Image via Facebook

Mariana Plata

What Netflix's 'Atypical' Gets Right About Disabilities

Netflix’s “Atypical” follows the life of Sam, a teenager on the autism spectrum. It explores how his diagnosis impacts his family, school and daily life. Although it has received mixed reviews from the public, there are a few things I believe the show gets right about autism, and having a family member with an autism diagnosis. Each person with autism is different, which is why it’s impossible to generalize. Nonetheless, there are certain symptoms from Sam’s experience that tend to be accurate about autism. Sensory differences, for instance, is a common trait among people with autism. The outlet and intensity may vary. This means people can display hypersensitivity to touch – like Sam’s refusal to wear a leather jacket; or hypersensitivity to sound – like Sam’s need to wear noise-cancelling headphones, among others. Sam’s difficulty creating eye contact, being seemingly in his own world, his very literal approach in communication and his difficulty grasping social cues were some of the traits the series gets spot on. Family support is crucial as one begins to navigate with any kind of diagnosis. Autism in a family member almost immediately means a shift in dynamics. The ability of a family to cope with this diagnosis depends entirely on the resourcefulness, mental health and resilience of the family system. As portrayed in the series, there are a variety of support groups and professionals dedicated to support the family with this transition. But the main responsibility relies on each member and their ability to recognize they need help through this process. Another valuable characteristic from “Atypical” is how powerful school accommodations can be to those with a disability. Something as simple as a ¨silent party¨ to empathize with Sam’s hearing sensitivity. No matter how small, any shift to make school a more inclusive environment is an approach I believe every educator should be willing to make. Sam is seemingly a self-advocate. What does this mean? He is able to openly talk about his likes and dislikes, his needs, his condition, and he is aware when his disability gets in the way of his social survival. This is probably due to years of training and receiving professional support. But, more importantly, this is an ability that is crucial to teach children and teenagers with disabilities. Not only can it help them to become more functional and independent, but also holds them accountable in trying to find resources to help them cope with their condition. When we look at these series or movies that portray a condition – such as “13 Reasons Why” or “To The Bone” – we need to take into consideration that they are works of fiction. No matter how hard creators try, they will never accurately, 100 percent absolutely depict the reality of having a particular condition. Each condition is as different as the person having it, which is why every story is unique – making it impossible to completely replicate. I believe an increase in these fictional stories about various conditions has opened the space to talk about them and make the public more aware. Hopefully, these stories will allow us to be more aware and respectful about disabilities. We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here .

Mariana Plata

Tips to Talk to Your Child About Their Diagnosis

It’s important to talk to your child about their diagnoses — whether it’s a mental health issue, a physical illness or a learning disability. Here are helpful tips to open up that conversation. 1. Use metaphors. Children respond well when you compare their diagnosis to something concrete. I’ve found that using the tomato plant metaphor found in the book “What To Do When You Worry Too Much,” by Dawn Huebner is an excellent conversation starter to talk about anxiety. Other helpful metaphors may be: the brain and a computer (for learning disabilities), the body and a machine (for physical illnesses) or whatever other helpful thing you may think of. The more relevance to the child, the better. Children tend to respond better and be more attentive if you use a character from a favorite TV show or book they enjoy. 2. Talk about strengths first. This is so important! It’s great relief when the child knows they have amazing strengths along with their difficulties. More importantly, it’s crucial to do this first before talking about the diagnosis. If possible, link these strengths to their challenges. For example, if a child has been diagnosed with a learning disability, it’s important to share with them how their strengths counterbalance this diagnosis.   3. Teach them about self-advocacy. Self-advocacy is the ability to speak for your own needs. It helps the person with a disability gain knowledge about the tools and resources they have, enabling their independence. As children grow older they must be able to use their own voice — not their parents nor teachers — to talk about their challenges and needed accommodations. This is something that can be practiced at home when you encourage (and teach) your child to tell you what they need in an assertive manner. “Understood” is a wonderful community with great resources on how to talk to your child about self-advocacy. 4. Give them role models. Whenever you receive a diagnosis, a sense of denial, discouragement or disappointment can take over. You might feel you’re alone and that no one else understands you. That’s why communities like “The Mighty” are so beneficial, it helps broaden your supportive network and helps you share common experiences with those going through the same difficulty you are. With children, the same rule applies. I often gather a list of people who share their illness or disability and turn it into a trivia game. Give them random pieces of information — including the diagnosis — and make them guess who the person is. Their faces of shock when they find out that athletes, artists or movie stars had the same difficulties growing up is priceless! But, more importantly, it sparks back the sense of hope they, too, will be OK. 5. Ask. If you’re still unsure on how to open this conversation ask the specialists. You can even ask for a separate session in which both the parent and specialist can talk to the child about their diagnosis. Coming to terms with a diagnosis, could be a difficult process for both the child and the family. But, it also offers an opportunity to grow their bond and push through to become even a stronger family unit than before. We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here . Thinkstock image by sergio_kumer

Mariana Plata

How a Facebook 'Like,' 'Love' or 'Share' Could Impact Mental Health

As a mental health professional, my approach to social media has always been cautious. It might be a novice psychologist or a cultural issue, but my feelings towards social media have taken a more flexible stance as I move forward in this digitally adept world. I recently witnessed how a joint effort was successful in helping a person receive necessary medical attention due to their mental health condition. It was mind-blowing to personally witness the power of a Facebook “share” and the potential reach these simple practices have. Another equally heartwarming example, was the outpouring support and love generated by Sinead O’Connor’s recent video, where she opens up about suicidal thoughts. I believe this was an evidence of the powerfully positive effects of social media. While social media has received a lot of backlash by the mental health community — especially true with younger and more vulnerable populations — there might also be something quite compelling about social media and its uses to advance the mental health cause. The mental health stigma is an issue that continues to prevail in society. When we look at high profile celebrities acknowledging their mental health difficulties — such as Selena Gomez, Demi Lovato, Sinead O’Connor and Kristen Bell — those experiencing a similar situation might feel a certain degree of relief. Relief in knowing there’s someone out there who has gone through the same thing they did. These celebrities, with their glitz, glamour and seemingly perfect lives, are human first and foremost. When we — “simple mortals” — are able to humanize these celebrities, we often start practicing self-compassion almost instantaneously; an ability necessary to start practicing self-care. There are countless websites out there dedicated to raise awareness of mental health (such as The Mighty), and how these companies use their social media to open up the conversation and start connecting with people, is doing wonders to the mental health community and the cause to finally end the stigma. We hold in our hands powerful tools that, if used appropriately, can end up saving more than one life. In your social media life, I encourage you to give more likes, more loves, more shares. You never know who you might be helping in the process. We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here . Thinkstock photo via Blackzheep.

Mariana Plata

Why Millennial 'Side Hustles' Can Benefit Your Mental Health

Many experts agree that millennials differ from previous generations for a variety of reasons: in general we are more tolerant and less prejudicial, tend to have more optimistic views about the future and our expectations, respond better to more flexible scenarios at respective workplaces, score higher on self-esteem and positive self-views and also value our own happiness and work-life balance over corporate loyalty. Some of these characteristics are highly frowned upon by employers from previous generations,  causing them to perceive millennials as “entitled,” “narcissistic” and “lazy.”  But, as with everything in life, there are two parts to this story. Let’s explore a brief recap on the existing generations, and how the term (and relevance of) “work-life balance” has shifted throughout the years. According to Psychology Today, when we analyze Baby Boomers, for example, we can learn they have very traditional values: they tend to follow rules, put work life as the highest of priorities, respond better to structured workplaces and firmly believe in corporate loyalty. Generation X, are typically characterized by pursuing their careers prior to “settling down.” This was the first generation to show some interest towards work-life balance, and their general worldview is based on change.  Millennials have redefined the workplace, often have a need to “want it all,” are driven for success, but are often clumsy regarding interpersonal skills — this due to the overload of technological stimulation. Last, but not least, we are getting to know Generation Z, the most digitally adept generation of all: they don’t know a world without technology, are even more driven than previous generations to finding independent success, but also have a very short attention span and low tolerance for frustration. It’s important to look back (and forward) on what this means for the workplace, but more importantly, what this means for the current and future generation’s mental health. We are noticing that as generations continue to move forward, the traditional “workplace rules” and the feeling to be a part of a bigger corporation for financial safety, has been losing its power over the feeling of “being your own boss.” Now, what does this mean in a bigger spectrum? A variety of things may happen — on both sides of this coin. For corporations, this may mean they will need to create a more flexible workplace, putting their focus on results rather than time spent in the office. But, what does this mean for millennials? The psychology of millennials explored previously has given us some insight as to what many millennials value: happiness, self-worth, self-esteem, flexibility and recognition. The reality is the perception that 9 to 5 jobs can offer all of these things is diminishing as we move forward. But, what about financial security? These traditional structured jobs that millennials are resenting more and more each day, are oftentimes the only ones that can offer a stable financial security — something which has increased importance as we grow older. That being said, what if there were a way to conserve your financial stability, while also feeling a sense of wholeness and purpose? What if instead of blaming the businesses that provide this financial structure, millennials learn to take responsibility for their own sense of purpose? What if there were a way to do both? Well, there just might be an answer to these questions. The benefits of side hustles (a name coined by millennials, but practiced by previous generations as “second jobs”) are much more than just a financial cushion. They offer an opportunity to enjoy something you do, something you’re passionate about, without the pressure of relying on it as your total income. The added bonus of these jobs as a mental health asset is something that has been rarely analyzed, as mentioned by Baab-Muguira in her article found in Quartz. In fact, she also mentions, “failing to participate in the trend (side-hustles) might even lead one to a millennial identity crisis.”  An identity crisis often experienced by many as they struggle to find meaning and that “spark” in a job that offers a sense of fulfillment. Something many of us millennials struggle with nowadays is finding the perfect work-life balance, only to disappoint ourselves as we understand there’s no such thing as a perfect balance to begin with. As mental health professionals, we often look at crisis as an opportunity to grow and learn. An opportunity to discover and put a name to that spark. A spark that, if discovered, can bring that extra sense of motivation and value into the regular workplace. According to the Harvard Business Review, “independent [and] remote workers are more productive, satisfied and engaged than their office-bound colleagues.” What if a side-hustle brings the sense of purpose and passion that was missing, and allows you to be a better employee at your full-time job? What if you learn how to mix both business and pleasure and learn to get the best of both worlds? As far as flexible side hustles, there’s a wide range of possibilities. Almost as vast as your imagination allows you to go. I’ve seen small run-at-home bakeries and catering businesses, photography enthusiasts, freelance writers (as yours truly), second hand luxury clothes curators, yoga instructors, soap and skincare alchemists, flea market hustlers and so much more. It all depends on what makes you happy and what strikes a chord with your sense of purpose. It is possible that we might be onto something here, a pathway to be able to blend the best of what all previous generations have been trying to show us. All we have to do is be open to the possibility and agree to take responsibility to make it happen. If we are able to do this, we might be able to improve our millennials’ mental health reality and tap into their full creative potential. We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here . Thinkstock photo via Alter_photo.

Mariana Plata

10 Myths People Believe About Mental Health Professionals

When I started studying for my career in psychology, friends and family alike would make a similar statement: “Careful now, Mariana might be psychoanalyzing you.” At first, I would get really serious about it and explain how psychoanalysis requires an extensive training — not covered in a four year bachelor’s degree program. Today though, I usually answer back with some humor. Sometimes with the legendary phrase of Dr. Freud himself: “Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.” The amount of people who still believe that we, mental health professionals, are a special kind of human breed got me thinking about how many myths are out there about this profession, in general. Today, I’m going to try to clarify some of these common myths: Myth #1: We are mind-readers. When we are in training to become mental health practitioners, we tend to sharpen our eyes and our ears. What does this mean? We observe behaviors and we listen to dialogue in a different way. My professors called it the “clinical eye” and the “clinical ear.” This is no way means we know what you’re thinking, it just means that we’re capable of tuning in on the hidden motives to what other people say or do. Now, this is an incredibly exhausting practice, one we tend to reserve for our working hours, and one that many of us actively turn off when we are in social scenarios. So, in a nutshell: when we are out for dinner or for a glass of wine, we are not mind readers and we have no intention to read beyond your words and actions. Myth #2: We work 24/7. This is linked to what was mentioned before. Our job requires us to connect and empathize with other people. Whether we are working at a private practice, a hospital, a school or a company, we came into this profession because we find it fulfilling to help other people. This requires us to be in a clear state of mind for most of those six to eight hours we are working. When we get off, we like to unwind. This means some days we might need a little TLC “me time,” where it’s just us watching some Netflix show that doesn’t require a lot of thinking and enjoying a bowl of popcorn. Myth #3: We are Olivia Pope. As a big “Scandal” fan, I had to include this reference. Olivia, the one carrying the “white hat” describes herself as a “fixer.” Her job is different than our line of work — she fixes scandals and fixes the image of people involved in these scandals. People who walk into our office usually expect the same treatment: parents bringing in their children to “fix” their behavior, couples coming in so we can “fix” their relationship, families coming in so we can “fix” their conflicts. But there’s a small caveat to this plan — we are not fixers. Our job is to join our patients in this path, to guide them into self-discovery, to help them find the necessary tools (they usually already have, but were unaware they existed) to solve their issues. The success of treatment is not thanks to the therapist. The success of therapy is all on the patient — because it was she/he who has challenged herself and displayed the necessary bravery to come to terms with their own experiences. Myth #4: We never make mistakes. I can’t even start to count the amount of times people have reacted to me being upset or sad or overreacting to certain events and situations. For some people, once you become a psychologist, you become that first and foremost anything else. Little do they know, we are human first, especially in our personal relationships. We might lose our cool if someone else jumps in line in front of us and we might not know how to best react with our own children having a tantrum at the supermarket. Like mentioned above, most of us have been blessed with an ability of self-awareness and with access to information about assertive communication. But, we can all respond instinctively — regardless of our profession. So, friends and family: cut us some slack, we are only human. Myth #5: We have everything figured out. As part of my training to become a psychologist, we were strongly encouraged by our professors to attend personal psychotherapy, as a way to get to know ourselves and be prepared to deal with other people’s personal situations. All human development is in constant dynamic movement. As we change from stage to stage, we grow, we change and we have to deal with different situations. It is virtually impossible to have absolutely everything figured out 100 percent of the time. As a requisite in our training, we have become more aware of our inner world and our limitations. But as we evolve, our limitations increase and our inner world gets richer, giving us plenty of material to become acquainted with. Myth #6: We analyze everything. This is a common theme in people’s responses when I first meet them. The truth is, we have the ability to analyze and see beyond behavior — but this is an entirely selective practice. What does this mean? One chooses when to analyze and most of the time, when we choose to grab dinner with friends or go to a niece’s birthday party, we are not analyzing your parenting or communication skills. Constant analysis and turning that thinking brain “on” requires a lot of effort and it’s mentally demanding, something many of us decide to reserve only for our jobs. Myth #7: We don’t feel negative emotions. Back to being human. We feel every range of emotion: happiness, sadness, fear, anxiety, frustration, anger, disappointment — all of them. The only difference is some of us might have the tools to label these emotions, recognize them within and know how to respond appropriately to them — sometimes. But, we are as vulnerable to feeling them as anybody else. Myth #8: We all do the same type of work. There’s an abundance of specializations in the field of psychology: clinical, pediatric psychology, school psychology, counseling, industrial psychology, sports psychology, forensic and the list goes on and on. And, to make everything even more complex, each field has sub-categories of framework. Not all of us see patients or diagnose or practice therapy. The one thing that we all love to do is help others, though. And that is the main reason most of us were attracted to this field in the first place. Myth #9: We can treat anyone. I see this more than anything else. Family and friends alike, new acquaintances and co-workers often reach out to talk about a situation, in hopes that we might offer the solution and answer to the problem. The problem with this is that we can only offer a limited and subjective point of view. This is the reason we can’t treat family members or friends: we know you too well, and too much. As a sister, a friend, a co-worker or anyone else who might know you in a personal level — I’m only able to see your side of the story. I believe the beauty of embarking on the journey of therapy or counseling is the opportunity to have someone completely unbiased and objective listening to your narrative. Someone who not only will be able to see the whole picture, but will also be able to give you input that hasn’t been influenced by a personal relationship. Myth #10: We have all the answers. I think this one is pretty self-explanatory. We don’t hold all the answers, nor is it our job to tell you what to do. We, in the best of our ability, offer you the space and partnership to help you see things more clearly. To give you the permission to understand your thoughts, actions and feelings. But it’s only you who is able to know what to do with this information. This allows us to give you independence in your process and allows you to take responsibility and take ownership of your accomplishments in this journey. We, as mental health professionals, are here to support, listen and empathize. To open the space to talk about difficult emotions and situations. To offer a wider perspective. To encourage you to think about your own inner life. To help you see things in different perspectives. We are here to help you prevent issues and arising problems. As a source to bounce off ideas and thoughts about your own inner workings. We are here. We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here . Thinkstock photo via macrovector.