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The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at CU Boulder chapter.

Trigger warning: This article discusses mental illness and briefly mentions gun violence and assault. 

I was 8 years old when I first sat in a therapist’s office. I didn’t know what I was supposed to do or why someone was sitting across from me waiting for me to say something. It was awkward and uncomfortable (for an 8-year-old whose parents were getting divorced). After that one appointment, I didn’t have any desire to go back. My mom is a therapist, so I learned a lot of helpful skills through her and some of the “basics” of therapy, but your mom can’t be your therapist. It wasn’t until eighth grade that I started attending therapy regularly. 

I firmly believe that you do not need a reason to go to therapy. Therapy isn’t just for people who are going through major life transitions such as a divorce or grief. Therapy is for anybody who wants someone who will talk with them about life and offer guidance on how to process emotions, whether small or big. For me, I started going to therapy because my levels of anxiety and number of panic attacks weren’t normal for a pubescent teenager. Previously, I had assumed that going to therapy meant there was something wrong with me. But really, my therapist felt like a friend who I could tell anything to and I never had to worry about my parents finding out. I could talk or not talk. I could yell, scream, cry, laugh, or even just talk about mundane things. Sometimes we’d meditate, do yoga poses, or color. Learning so much about myself at such a young age helped me navigate all the feelings that come with being a teenager and going through high school. Another beautiful thing about therapy is that it comes in many different forms. 

During my sophomore year of high school, someone entered the building with a gun and we had to go into hiding. Although it turned out to be a BB gun and no one was injured by it, I was incredibly traumatized by the event. I began experiencing symptoms of PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) such as nightmares, avoidance of triggers, paranoia, and just an overall debilitating fear of crowded spaces. My therapist recommended EMDR (or eye movement desensitization) and reprocessing therapy (a common therapy for those diagnosed with PTSD). I would sit in front of a screen that displayed a light moving repeatedly from one side to the other. I’d hold a buzzer in each hand and the devices would go off in correspondence with whichever side of the screen was lit up. While I watched this light, I was instructed to recall the traumatic event in granular detail, and I did this for over six weeks. I still don’t understand the science behind it all, but to my surprise, it worked for me. Four years later, I rarely experience those symptoms or have flashbacks to that event. 

I’ve also undergone dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT). This type of therapy can be done in group settings, one-on-one settings, or even in a journal form. DBT allowed me to write down and work through large feelings that were difficult to handle on my own. I have also done some forms of group therapy, such as a grief group for survivors of suicide and a support group for survivors of sexual assault.  In these spaces, I learned more from my peers than the therapists, and they played a vital role in my recovery and self-growth. 

  As a psychology major and the daughter of a therapist, it’s no surprise that I am an avid advocate for therapy. But I am also someone who struggles with mental health. I am a college student, a woman, and just a person. Therapy isn’t exclusive and doesn’t discriminate based on what you’re going through. It can be helpful if you are going through the worst thing to ever happen to you or if you just need someone to talk to. It comes in many different forms that cater to any problem you can think of. I wouldn’t be the person I am today without the six years I spent in therapy and I continue to go to therapy today (it’s the best part of my week). It saved my life. Going to therapy is nothing to be ashamed of and is something that should be celebrated and encouraged. 

Resources (CU Boulder and beyond):

Mental health resources on campus

Mental health clinics/resources in Boulder

A helpful website to find a therapist

988 – The national suicide hotline 

Julia Stacks

CU Boulder '25

Julia Stacks is the Director of Social Media and a contributing writer at the Her Campus Chapter at the University of Colorado at Boulder. As Director she oversees a team of content creators, creates content for various social media platforms and helps with partnerships. Outside of Her Campus, Julia is a junior at the University of Colorado Boulder. She is majoring in Psychology with a minor in Sociology. Although she doesn't have any previous writing experience, she loves taking English classes and exploring her creative writing skills to strengthen her writing at Her Campus. Now, her writing focuses on topics she's passionate about such as mental health, current events and popular media. In her personal life, Julia can be found listened to true crime podcasts or watching true crime documentaries with her dog Shaye. She loves painting, reading romance books, spending time with friends and family, buying iced coffee and doing tarot readings. Julia hopes to use her writing to raise awareness about important issues which she hopes to do as a career as a victim's advocate.