Mental Health Awareness Month: One local therapist talks about the rise in therapy

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PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — Amanda Crusen has a private practice in Peoria Heights. She said over the last 18 months, her clientele has grown significantly.

“I think a lot of it is stress from the pandemic,” Crusen said. “Just exploring, learning new things about themselves during the pandemic.”

Crusen said she wants to reframe the narrative about why people go to therapy.

“You know, it could be seen as a negative thing, ‘oh people need therapy; they must be having problems.’ I see it as kind of a positive thing,” Crusen said. “Like people are seeking therapy during the pandemic and that’s a good thing. Reframing that into people are bettering themselves and taking this opportunity to better themselves.”

Crusen said the pandemic exacerbated many issues, including relationships, workplace and job environments, isolation, grief, and loss.

“I think also because our lives have been in such a kind of ‘time out,’ people are kind of addressing things they haven’t addressed before because our lives have all kind of been on pause,” Crusen said. “And that silence sometimes, I think, brings up things that they were distracted from before.”

In a Twitter poll, 87 percent of participants said they believe there is a stigma around going to therapy.

“I definitely think just more people talking about therapy helps breaking the stigma,” Crusen said. “There still is a hesitancy for people to seek therapy. And there’s definitely, you know, it can be seen as a weakness.”

Despite the stigma, Crusen said many local therapists, including herself, are seeing their business grow at this time. She said there is a really high demand for counseling.

“I think there is enough business for everyone to go around,” Crusen said. “Maybe there aren’t enough hours in the day. But there’s definitely, I think if you’re patient and willing to wait a couple of weeks to schedule an appointment, then there’s definitely enough business to go around.” 

In another Twitter poll, more than half the participants said they either started therapy or considered it during the pandemic.

Crusen said this growth is a good thing.

“I think it’s so important to be in therapy. For everybody,” Crusen said. “Even if you don’t have really serious traumas or problems you’re recovering from. It’s important just to have somebody to talk to or vent to sometimes. That is totally impartial and objective and isn’t a family or a friend.” 

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