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The past few years have been rough for everyone. But we’ve all proven that we’re resilient, and that’s what strengthening and improving our mental health is all about.
To celebrate Mental Health Awareness Month, we held a three-day Spring Summit that featured conversations and content centered around the tools you can use to increase your resilience.
This included conversations between therapists, coaches, Care Navigators, and a working father and Spring Health member.
In case you weren’t able to attend, here are the key ideas from these conversations. You can also watch the replay for all three days.
What actually happens in therapy and coaching?
D’Andrala (DeDe) Alexander, M.A., LPC-S, Director of Clinical Partnerships at Spring Health and Kim Muench, a parent and family coach at Spring Health spent day one of the summit discussing the ins and outs of therapy and coaching—the differences, and what to expect from these modes of mental health support.
How do you know if you need therapy or coaching?
DeDe pointed out that, “If you’re asking this question, you’re already on the right path.”
There’s no magic sign that lights up when someone needs therapy. However, if you’re dealing with any of the following, therapy or coaching is likely a good option:
- You feel like something is off or you feel lost
- You’ve been struggling with something in your life
- You’re going through a difficult situation at work
- You’re experiencing family struggles
- You’re dealing with negative thoughts that affect your daily life
Tips for getting started with therapy
Starting something new is almost always intimidating. The unknown is scary and yet, everything we’ve ever experienced in our lives was new at one point.
Starting therapy can be as simple as setting up your Spring Health account. You’ll then be paired with a Care Navigator—a licensed clinician who will explain your custom care plan and book your first session.
What’s the difference between therapy and coaching?
During a coaching session, the coach is focused on listening, asking questions, and helping the client (you!) create pathways for setting goals and meeting them. It’s forward-looking and focused on taking action.
Therapy is more of a medical model with clinical diagnosis, talking about past experiences and how they’ve shaped you, and getting back to your emotional baseline.
What can you expect from a coach?
A coach is, first and foremost, an excellent listener providing a non-judgemental space to help someone take the next best step in order to meet their goals.
- Ask questions
- Help identify problems or obstacles
- Assist with figuring out what’s working and not working
- Help the client use that information to set goals and create pathways to achieving them
What can you expect from a therapist?
Therapists are also active listeners who get to know the client and build a good relationship, or therapeutic alliance. A therapist provides:
- An environment where you feel confident and comfortable
- Diagnosing of mental health issues
- Sessions that vary according to your needs
- Different approaches and specialities
DeDe points out that, “If you are expecting your therapist to tell you what to do, you will be sorely disappointed because we will not tell you what to do. We’re just going to ask you to think about your options and think about what you can do in your behavioral patterns.”
What’s your role in coaching or therapy?
The client’s role in therapy or coaching is to be an active participant and engage with the coach or therapist. A coach or therapist is a guide. They cannot do the work for you, but will help steer and support your own inner work.
How can you benefit from seeing a therapist or a coach?
- Learn skills and insights useful for navigating everyday life
- Gain an objective, professional perspective on anything you need help with
- Identifying goals and figuring out how to achieve them
- Create healthier dynamics for all types of relationships
How can you know if therapy or coaching is 'working'?
Spring Health uses measurement-based care. There’s a process for post-therapy and coaching assessments to see if there’s improvement.
You can also do a self check-in anytime, by asking these questions:
- Do you feel better?
- Have you been able to meet goals?
- Do you have more tools to navigate mental health, relationships, and the experiences life throws at you?
A working dad talks therapy, family, and healing
It’s helpful to have a real life, practical example of how therapy can help us develop a mental health toolbox that’s useful for the situations life throws at us.
On day two of the summit, Dan Harrah, Sr. Director of Clinical Partnerships at Spring Health, spoke with Travis Henderson, a maintenance mechanic at General Mills and Spring Health member, about a recent mental health crisis in his own family.
Travis discovered that his teenage daughter was struggling with her mental health and engaging in self-harm. He says, “I didn’t know how to handle it. I knew beforehand how I would react: anger, anxiety, and animosity. I didn’t want that to be a factor in this.”
He wasn’t sure what to do, so Travis talked with his supervisor and discovered that he could get help for her through Spring Health. He eventually decided to start therapy, too.
What did it take for Travis to get started in therapy?
While dealing with his daughter’s mental health struggles, Travis realized that there were traits he didn’t like in himself that she’d picked up and acted out. He wanted to make a change so he could model healthy behavior for her and the rest of his family.
Travis is passionate about breaking down the stigmas around getting help for mental health issues. He says, “Don’t let your preconceived notions stop you from getting help. Be okay being vulnerable. The muscle between your ears needs help sometimes.”
What was surprising about therapy?
Travis was surprised by the different perspectives and narratives around his thoughts and behavior that his therapist introduced him to.
- Asked him tough questions
- Held him accountable
- Helped him process his anger and how that was affecting his daughter
- Helped him change his mindset about navigating emotions
- Helped him model healthy ways of dealing with emotions
What mental health tools have helped Travis?
During therapy, Travis acquired tools to help him grapple with his emotional responses to difficult or overwhelming circumstances.
Here are a few examples:
- He can now temporarily exit the situation when he’s having a reactive emotional response, complete a breathing exercise, and take a walk. This allows him to re-enter a difficult conversation with his family and have a less reactive and more thoughtful response.
- Travis uses meditation on his way to work to help reset his mind. He and his daughter engage in meditation together, as a way of promoting healthier communication.
- During a recent argument with his wife, he was able to step back, analyze his behavior, and then ask if they could discuss the issue with a different mindset, healthier forms of communication, and better intentions.
Watch this video to learn more about Travis’ story.
On day three, we discussed the power of mindfulness and how you can integrate it into everyday life. Spring Health Care Navigator Nessa De Leon and Transformation Coach Tou Ger Lee closed the session with a powerful ten-minute sound meditation.
What is mindfulness?
Mindfulness is the act of being present and aware of what’s happening around us, in our space, including both sensory stimuli and our physical and emotional reaction to that stimuli.
Tou Ger points out that, “life is 5% what happens to you and 95% how you respond to it.” Nessa followed up with the idea that between the stimulus and response is a space for mindfulness.
For example, if we are cut off by another car while driving, that’s the outside stimulus to which we have an emotional response. The moment between the stimulus—being cut off— and our response is a place for us to choose what that response is going to be.
We can choose to be reactive, get upset, tailgate the person who cut us off, and maybe shout at them. Or we can choose to pause, take a breath, and let it go.
How do we practice mindfulness?
Mindfulness isn’t just yoga or meditation. It’s something we can practice and integrate into our daily lives, into each moment of our existence.
Tou Ger gives the example of brushing our teeth—hopefully something we all do on a daily basis. Instead of scrolling on our phones while we brush, we might count the brush strokes or notice the sensations of the brush and toothpaste in our mouth.
Paying attention to our bodies, our heartbeat, how the sun and wind feel on our skin, how the texture of the desk where we are working feels when our fingers brush it: these are all ways to practice mindfulness and can be done every single day.
A few deep breaths in a bathroom stall, at our desk, on our commute, or in an elevator can be enough to center us and soothe our nervous system in the midst of a stressful or emotionally heavy day.
When we are attuned to our bodies, to the sensations and emotions we are feeling, each moment of our daily lives becomes not just a chore to get through, but an act of living, of inhabiting the present moment.
It’s easy to forget that the present moment is all we have. Mindfulness is a way of honoring that.
It starts with you
Spring Health President and Co-founder Adam Chekroud closed the summit by outlining ways Spring Health can help you begin your journey to better mental health, including:
- Easily connecting with care that’s right for you
- Gaining skills and insights you’ll use everyday to feel your best
- Helping you prioritize your mental health through digital tools to use wherever, whenever
- Supporting mental health for your entire family
A single solution for the whole family
Spring Health provides care for the entire family, including a dedicated care navigator that works with the whole family unit, to make sure everyone is getting help in a way that supports the whole.
- Fast and easy access to therapy for children as young as six
- Direct scheduling with child and adolescent providers
- Coaching for adults and parents
- Personalized care, medication management, wellness exercises
- Dedicated care navigator to help figure out your needs and appropriate care
If you weren’t able to join us, it’s not too late to enjoy the Summit sessions. Watch all three on demand here.