Warning Signs to Leave an Emotionally Toxic Situation
Although physical violence is the most commonly reported and notable form of abuse, covert methods of manipulation or control have severely damaging psychological long-term effects.
Covert abuse is a subtle and insidious manner in which abusive individuals control and manipulate others. In a work environment, it is common to experience verbal abuse from a co-worker or employer, leaving negative feelings to fester and manifest into further personal challenges. Identifying the warning signals of a toxic emotional relationship is a crucial factor in being able to protect yourself from further damage.
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Adults who have been exposed to emotional neglect or mistreatment during childhood are often reported to have developed mental health challenges, anxiety disorders, and even PTSD as an aftereffect. As a consequence of unresolved emotional trauma, you are prone to face challenges that can affect various areas of your life.
BetterHelp online emotional abuse therapists aim to educate, support, and heal those who have been emotionally mistreated at any stage or situation of their lives. Connecting to a specialist in emotional abuse therapy from BetterHelp alleviate the burden of long-term negative impacts of emotional abuse.
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The aftereffects of childhood emotional neglect in adulthood
How do you know if you experienced emotional neglect in childhood? Although the symptoms are not easily identifiable during the experience, the aftereffects can be a telling sign.
Emotional neglect is a form of psychological mistreatment that goes unrecognized and unreported. In the United States, child neglect includes physical mistreatment, medical neglect, as well as emotional abandonment. Oftentimes this form of emotional neglect goes unnoticed because people are unaware of what to look for.
For a child, emotional mistreatment is a traumatic experience. Not only does it affect the child’s psychological development, but additionally affects their ability to trust, express emotions effectively, and develop healthy friendships and connections. More importantly, the trauma of being emotionally abandoned by a parent heavily impacts their sense of self.
Trauma from childhood emotional mistreatment has long-lasting impacts in adulthood. It is advised for victims of emotional abuse to educate themselves about how to heal from unresolved childhood emotional trauma. As a consequence of a parent’s failure to meet their child’s emotional needs during impressionable years, they face the risk of delays in cognitive and emotional development.
The signs of emotional neglect trauma in adults can be identified through behavior, attachment, and reactive patterns. Anyone who has experienced having their emotions and feelings minimized or ignored, or had been exposed to domestic violence and blatant mistreatment from a caregiver will commonly notice these challenges in adulthood;
- Frequently negative emotions such as anger, frustration, anxiety, or depression.
- Prone to psychiatric disorders.
- Substance abuse.
- Lack of confidence, low self-esteem, and poor self-worth.
- Trust issues.
- Trouble creating and maintaining relationships.
- Challenges regulating and expressing emotions.
- Poor social etiquette, boundaries, or self-awareness.
- Self-critical and doubtful.
- Highly likely to become socially withdrawn or isolated.
Facing the effects of trauma caused by emotional mistreatment during childhood can be a difficult task. Although the experience may have happened in earlier years, the brain and the body stores trauma for extended periods as a form of self-protection. In cases where childhood trauma is left unresolved, it manifests into complications that can range from developing mental health challenges, and physical health issues, as well as, becoming intergenerational.
We encourage those who have faced traumatic experiences at any point in their lives to consider connecting with a childhood emotional neglect therapy specialist. The effects can be damaging and irreversible if left untreated. BetterHelp offers 24-hour online methods of therapy for those who need professional support, advice, and guidance when healing from childhood neglect.
What are the consequences of unresolved childhood emotional trauma?
It is important to be aware of the consequential effects of trauma. The reason why unresolved trauma complicates adulthood challenges is a result of a response in the brain. What happens during a traumatic experience, particularly during childhood, the brain goes into shock. This results in a trauma response that causes the brain and the body to find the best way to protect you from the experience. During this process, fundamental areas of the brain are overstimulated, causing crucial developmental delays. Hence why adults who grew up in abusive homes, will begin to experience the effects.
- Psychological blocks.
- Memory loss of your childhood.
- Chronic feelings of loneliness and emptiness can result in depression.
- Highly uncomfortable with emotional processing and expression.
- Believe that they are flawed.
- Feeling disconnected and different from others.
- Lack of self-understanding.
- Self-blame, guilt, and shame.
Healing from childhood emotional neglect can improve your quality of life. It is an experience that has the potential to negatively influence your behaviors and emotional abilities, consequently affecting intimate relationships. To effectively overcome and let go of trauma caused by emotional mistreatment, therapists suggest these self-regulation methods;
- Identify and re-evaluate your emotions and expectations. Setting expectations that you can meet for yourself will build up your emotional resilience.
- Acknowledge and accept when and why the incidents happened.
- Find ways to meet your emotional needs before expecting them from a partner.
- Practice talking about your feelings to a trusted friend or family member. Alternatively, journal and keep track of your emotions.
- Seek emotional support from your social circle.
- Confront the trauma effectively. An emotional abuse therapist near me or online is advised.
Overcoming the effects of childhood emotional neglect on adults is possible. However, you are encouraged to do so earlier rather than later to avoid any further challenges.
Warning Signs of Emotional Abuse
Emotional abuse is a common form of psychological control and manipulation. It is used in the workplace, marriages, friendships, and romantic relationships. Because emotional mistreatment is not physical, the signs can be easily ignored or possibly misinterpreted. Those who have experienced verbal violence or gaslighting of any nature are predisposed to developing a wide range of aftereffects.
How do you know when you are being emotionally abused?
An emotionally abusive person uses subtle ways in which they control you. The aim is to manipulate you to get what they want. In some cases, an emotionally manipulative person may be unaware of their actions, or firmly deny their actions when confronted. You need to be well-versed in understanding both the subtle signs of emotional abuse, as well as the consequences. This way, you will be able to protect yourself in an emotionally toxic friendship or relationship.
Identifying the subtle signs of emotional abuse in a relationship can look different in each circumstance. Particularly in romantic relationships, victims are often unaware of what is happening or choose to excuse the behavior and mistreatment to avoid conflict. However, ignoring emotional abuse from a loved one will leave you feeling extremely confused, resentful, and angry. If you suspect that you may be in an emotionally unhealthy relationship, these are common warning signs you do not want to ignore;
- Gaslighting. Gaslighting is a covert form of psychological manipulation. You may experience a partner constantly telling you that you do not remember correctly or coercing you into believing them out of confusion.
- Subtle forms of control that seem like genuine concern. A form of psychological abuse is ‘grooming’, in a relationship your partner may seem overly interested or invested in your whereabouts, social activities, and friends. This is a way to monitor and control you.
- Humiliation or constant put-downs. It is normal to playfully tease in a relationship, however, if you are experiencing being humiliated in front of friends or family or have jokes made at your expense, it is a subtle sign of emotional abuse.
- Unpredictable behavior or emotional state of your partner. Having an inconsistent emotional state can directly affect you. If your partner is in a bad mood and takes it out on you, it is considered a form of emotional damage.
- They withhold love, affection, or finances as punishment. Disagreeing is normal. Having a punishment, as a result, is not.
- Constantly apologizing. You may find yourself apologizing for mishappenings that are not your fault just to keep the peace.
- You feel anxious or uneasy around them and commonly suppress your feelings to avoid conflict.
- They make you feel worthless, filled with self-doubt, and unable to make them happy.
If the above-mentioned subtle warning signs are in any way relevant to your relationship, you may be experiencing emotional abuse or mistreatment. There is always a way forward and methods to overcome emotional mistreatment.
The step you want to take next is learning how to protect yourself from emotional abuse. If the circumstance has been ongoing, you may begin to show subtle signs of emotional trauma, it is encouraged to consult an emotional abuse counseling specialist from BetterHelp, that will help you identify what you should do next.
Can Emotional Abuse Cause PTSD?
In addition to an extensive list of damaging consequences of emotional abuse, PTSD is one of them. As a trauma response to a shocking incident, the brain becomes over-stimulated in an attempt to protect itself. This is known as the ‘fight or flight’ reaction. The experience of emotional mistreatment or neglect can have tremendously negative impacts on your psychological, emotional, and physical well-being.
PTSD happens as a result of a traumatic experience. PTSD is an anxiety disorder that develops over time and starts to interfere with daily tasks. As the symptoms of PTSD progress, they may become unmanageable. The symptoms of PTSD are associated with anxiety, chronic nightmares, and flashbacks of the abuse incident.
How do I know if I’ve developed PTSD as a trauma response?
Identifying PTSD after a traumatic experience such as emotional abuse or mistreatment may include looking for these signs;
- Feeling on edge and hypervigilant of your surroundings.
- Chronic fear of the trauma incident happening again.
- Nightmares and flashbacks.
- Agitation and mood swings.
- Deliberate or unconscious avoidance of places or people that remind you of the incident.
- Negative thoughts.
- Unhealthy or high-risk behavior.
- Emotional disassociation.
As a trauma response, PTSD or C-PTSD (complex post-traumatic stress disorder) can be complicated if left untreated. Further complications can include developing personality disorders, mental health challenges, as well as, physical health setbacks like cardiovascular disease or high blood pressure.
The consequences of experiencing emotional abuse have various negative impacts. In severe cases where PTSD has developed as a result, it is advised to seek professional help as soon as possible. The risk of PTSD progressively worsening is highly likely.
Managing and coping with PTSD from emotional abuse trauma. When coping with PTSD it is always encouraged to have professional assistance, however, you can practice these coping mechanisms;
- Methods of symptom management. With PTSD you will start to recognize triggers, take note of these, and practice managing your responses. Mindful meditation, sensory tools, and grounding techniques help with this.
- Identify daily habits and behaviors. Negative feelings can affect your overall state of being. It is important to keep track of daily reactive methods or feelings.
- Recognize repetitive negative patterns.
- Reconnect with your internal state and actions. In times when you may negatively react or behave, it can be helpful to stop these behaviors before they happen.
- Identify your feelings when you have a flashback or reminder. Reassure yourself that you are safe.
- Try to improve and reconnect with your interpersonal relationships. Having positive people around can help you cope and regulate.
Coping with PTSD from emotional abuse requires continuous work and practice to overcome. It is always possible to heal. We advise you to consider connecting to a trauma specialist form BetterHelp who is educated and experienced in helping victims of emotional abuse overcome their pain and trauma.
How to leave an emotionally abusive relationship
Forms of emotional abuse or mistreatment are psychological techniques used to frighten, control, manipulate or intimidate the victim. As emotional abuse is commonly overt and subtle, it can be harder to identify warning signs in comparison to physical abuse. However, according to psychologists, the consequences are just as damaging.
Often victims that have experienced emotional abuse find themselves bewildered with self-doubt and guilt. The experience of emotional manipulation is confusing and disorientating. Hence victims ask themselves, ‘Why am I always mistreated?’. This is a clear indication of someone that has been exposed to an emotionally toxic relationship incident.
Is your relationship emotionally abusive?
Assessing a romantic relationship can be challenging. In the heat of intense fond emotions, one can easily dismiss or excuse abusive behaviors. This is not to be taken lightly. The aftereffects of emotionally abusive relationships have complex consequences that are highly likely to develop and negatively impact not only your overall well-being but your interpersonal relationships as well. If you have experienced forms of emotional abuse, you may be wondering if it was emotional abuse, take note of these indicators.
Emotional abuse can happen in subtle ways, at times you may overlook it. There are four main categories in which emotional abuse can be identified.
- Methods or tactics to undermine self-esteem.
- Behaviors to intimidate and control.
- Tactics to overpower and create a hierarchy.
- Emotional neglect and isolation methods.
These forms of psychological control and manipulation are methods that are used by an abuser in an attempt to prevent you from leaving an emotionally abusive relationship. Over time these forms of covert control can negatively impact your long-term wellbeing.
We advise you to look out for these warning signs. This will clarify if you should leave an emotionally toxic relationship.
- Being viciously insulted, called names or derogatory insults
- Humiliation and being put down.
- Subtle character assassination. “You’re always late.”, “You always do this wrong.”.
- Belittling you or your accomplishments.
- Being dismissive towards your feelings or thoughts.
- Insulting or making fun of your appearance.
- Suggesting that your interests are a waste of time.
Abusive behavior will be done in these ways to assert control over you;
- Threatening you or your loved ones.
- Closely monitoring your whereabouts.
- Making decisions for you or persuading you to make decisions they want.
- Social or digital spying.
- Manipulating you by using emotional blackmail.
- Ordering you around by yelling or shouting at you.
Forms of emotional abuse or mistreatment used to make you inferior;
- Guilting, blaming, or accusing you.
- Denying the abusive behavior.
- Setting unrealistic expectations of you.
- Extremely jealous and may accuse you of cheating or flirting.
- They will blame you for their problems.
These indicators of emotional mistreatment can negatively affect the victim’s wellbeing, in severe cases, someone who has experienced emotional ill-treatment will become completely submissive to the abuse and get stuck in the toxic cycle.
If you are wondering how to leave an emotionally abusive relationship, you will need to identify and acknowledge that this is happening. Confronting the person may not always work as emotionally abusive individuals often become defensive and reactive. At times they may become physically violent and put you in danger. It is common for the victim experiencing emotional distress in a toxic relationship to become addicted to the abuse cycle themselves and not leave.
It is important to create a safe plan to leave an emotionally abusive relationship, you will need to ensure that you can get out at a safe time. Follow these steps and plan your exit:
- Plan properly. When you plan a safe exit, make sure you remember to take essential belongings. It is suggested to pack a small bag beforehand, placing it at an easily accessible point in the house.
- Make sure you have a safe place to go once you’ve left and money to help you sustain yourself.
- To avoid going back or convincing yourself to stay, create a network of support. Reach out to these people in times of doubt.
- Once you’re out. You will experience conflicting feelings and wonder if you made the right decision. The abuser will reach out and try to convince you to come back, do not let yourself.
- Remind yourself of why you left in the first place.
- Focus on you and your recovery from the traumatic experience.
If you find yourself wondering about your abusive partner and feeling sorry for them or guilty, try to assess the situation objectively rather than from an emotional standpoint. This will help you be confident in your decision. Additionally, reach out to a professional emotional trauma specialist who can guide you through this time of healing. It is not an easy thing to overcome alone, support and professional advice are always advised.
Covert Abuse in Marriage
Covert abuse, also known as, stealth abuse, ambient abuse, hidden abuse, or passive-aggressive abuse. It is a form of psychological and emotional abuse that is used to manipulate, break down and control another individual. Covert abuse is generally hidden behind fake empathy and charming behaviors. This makes it easier to disguise as genuine care, affection, or love.
Stealth abuse in marriage can be extremely subtle, more so from a spouse, it makes it harder to identify emotional abuse as someone who is meant to be your biggest supporter. However, because a spouse has had the opportunity to learn you over time, they have studied your behaviors, reactions, and mannerisms. Thus, making it easier for them to disguise their true intentions. This is a dangerously toxic mind game.
Emotionally abusive spouses are usually narcissistic. This means that they are extremely self-seeking, self-centered, and have the desire to be in control of everything and everyone around them. Specifically those closest to them.
Although it may seem as though your partner genuinely cares for you, there are warning signs of covert abuse in a marriage that should not be ignored.
- Pretending. Covert abusers are skillful pretenders and know how to put on a believable act. The aim is to make you doubt yourself to the point where you are confused and opt to take their word for it.
- Constant putdowns. It is one thing to engage in light-hearted banter in marriage, but covert abusers are intentionally working on breaking you down. They will disguise hurtful comments in a joking way.
- Blameshift in times of conflict. Covert abusers will make you believe that all relationship challenges are your fault. When they are confronted, they will pretend to be willing to work on issues, however, later in the marriage they will twist your words and make you feel guilty for rejecting them.
- Misrepresenting your feelings. It is common for covert abusers to bring up topics that are not part of the conversation at hand. They may say things like, ‘oh so you’ve never made a mistake and you’re perfect?’.
- Manipulative lying. Stealth abuse from a spouse will be disguised as gaslighting, a form of emotional control that is used to confuse you and misrepresent your words. Gaslighting will make you feel confused, frustrated, and out of touch with the reality of what is actually happening.
- They will play the victim and deflect responsibility. Covertly abusive spouses are proficient in using your good nature and sympathy to excuse their toxic behavior.
- They come across as the most harmless and lovable individuals to those around you, taking a keen interest in your friends and family. This is an act to make sure that no one suspects of believes that there is any form of abuse happening.
- Isolation and subtle control. Covert abusers will use ways of making your scheduling for social plans hard. You end up feeling guilty for spending time with loved ones and friends.
Covert emotional abuse in marriage happens gradually. It is a challenge to identify, as a victim may become complacent with the behavior and excuse it to avoid further conflict. Consequently, the spouse experiencing emotional mistreatment will suffer negative psychological, emotional, and mental effects. If left untreated with the help of a professional marriage counselor or emotional abuse specialist, these effects can complicate into irreversible damage.
The consequences of covert abuse in marriage are wide-ranging. Depending on the longevity and severity of the abuse experience, you are at risk of experiencing these effects;
- Low self-esteem, lack of confidence, and emotional disassociation.
- Out of touch with reality, cognitive challenges, and memory loss.
- PTSD, C-PTSD, or personality disorders.
- Depression and anxiety.
- Eating and sleeping disorders.
- Feeling guilty or shameful of the situation.
- Unable to regulate emotions.
- Feeling reliant or dependent on the abuser for decisions.
- Lack of positive self-image or self-worth.
- Losing friends and family.
Covert abuse in marriage is extremely dangerous. As it becomes more challenging to identify and confront, you become easily susceptible to further abuse. It is advised to seek professional couples counseling for emotional abuse.
BetterHelp offers the best support and advice on how to heal, manage or overcome covert abuse.
How to Stop Being Emotionally Abusive
Are you emotionally abusive? If you have been made aware of potentially abusive behavior, it is advised to do research and acknowledge abusive behavior. It is common for people to behave abusively and be unaware of their actions, depending on the individual’s level of self-awareness, they may or may not consciously emotionally mistreat others.
Can someone stop being emotionally abusive? Abusers who want to change their behavior or negative emotionally toxic habits are encouraged to do self-intropection and identify any unhealthy emotional actions.
Although emotional mistreatment may be unintentionally malicious, it is always good to be aware of behaviors that may be harmful to others around you. Not only does this allow you to grow personally through self-awareness, but it also protects those around you. It is a powerful step to be able to admit when you are wrong and take the steps toward being better.
“How do I know if I am emotionally abusing people?”. Identifying emotionally abusive behaviors is the first step to recognizing potentially emotionally toxic behavior.
- You often feel the need to be in control of your partner, constantly wanting to know about their whereabouts and time spent away from you. This leads you to limit or control the amount of time they spend with their friends and family.
- Emotional invalidation or dismissal. When your partner expresses their feelings, you don’t take them seriously, avoid taking responsibility for your actions or blatantly lie to protect yourself.
- You often criticize your partner’s behavior, personality, or shortcomings.
- When they have upset you, your reaction is to ignore them, give them the silent treatment, withhold affection or become passive-aggressive until you are satisfied.
- Making your partner feel like they need to earn your love and affection by encouraging unhealthy codependence.
- You make degrading comments about your partner or insulting jokes that may be hurtful to them.
- You threaten them with a breakup if they do not behave according to how you want them to. You get angry and blame them for your reactions.
It is normal to have conflict in relationships, arguments and disagreements are normal. However, controlling or emotionally manipulating someone to satisfy your own needs is psychological abuse. After identifying emotionally abusive behaviors, it is important to figure out why you do these things. Abuse therapists recommend thinking back to your previous relationships and childhood to assess the nature of the interaction, and possible abuse that happened to you and as a result caused you to treat others the same way.
Unresolved childhood trauma from neglect or previous toxic emotional relationships can heavily impact the development of abusive behavior or unhealthy attachment habits. Although this does not at all excuse any form of emotional abuse towards others, it can be helpful to heal the root cause.
It is likely that you will need professional guidance through learning how to stop being emotionally abusive. It is a complex behavior to understand and overcome. Having the professional advice of therapy for abusers from BetterHelp, can make the recovery journey easier and more effective.
Emotional Abuse Divorce
In marriage, it is crucial to learn one another’s strengths and weaknesses. This helps couples form effective and healthy methods of communicating and conflict resolution. In cases where there is an emotionally abusive spouse that is mistreating their partner, it can become extremely difficult to feel comfortable expressing feelings constructively.
Oftentimes couples continue the abuse cycle and it consequently results in one or both partners experiencing anger, resentment, or loss of love for a spouse. Even threatening divorce as emotional abuse, can open doors that shouldn’t be open. If left unresolved, it is common for emotional abuse to result in divorce.
How do you know what is considered emotional mistreatment in marriage?
In most cases, emotional mistreatment from a spouse can become progressively worse, additionally because it is usually overt, spouses dismiss the toxic behavior and continue with daily life. However, the subconscious will start to store this trauma and cause negative effects such as depression, anxiety, PTSD, or emotional disassociation.
Signs of emotionally toxic behavior impacting divorce;
- Forms of isolation from friends and family.
- Emotional manipulation or control.
- Withholding or controlling finances.
- Using children as emotional manipulation.
- Threatening divorce
- Irrational ultimatums.
- Physical or verbal threats to you, your family, or your children.
- Constant insults and criticism.
- Derogatory manner of ‘joking’.
- Belittling, shaming, or publicly humiliating you.
- Using intimacy as a weapon.
Divorce as a consequence of emotional ill-treatment will demand much more of you emotionally than a regular divorce. In cases where one partner is continually showing behaviors of toxic emotional manipulation, they are in desperate need to control you. They will continue to psychologically manipulate you throughout the divorce process. In order to prove emotional abuse as a reason for divorce in court, it would be in your best interest to keep a record of any abusive contact and incidents.
Through divorce due to emotional abuse, you will need professional support and guidance for you and your children. To ensure that you are entirely protected from any further abuse, psychologists recommend practicing emotional abuse counseling near me or online. These methods to get you through the divorce process.
- Remember why you’re going through with your decision.
- Do not fall victim to any forms of guilting or manipulation from your spouse.
- Make sure you maintain distance from them.
- Practice meditation and self-regualtion to avoid and alleviate depression and anxiety.
- Seek financial support during the divorce.
- Create a support system of friends and family.
- Remind yourself that it is not your fault and you are not to blame.
- Create a safe living environment, focus on yourself and heal.
It is advised to seek help from a professional marriage therapist that will be able to offer you educated advice, support, and guidance through this time. BetterHelp online methods of therapy are affordable, convenient, and effective. With 24-hour direct access to your chosen specialist, you have the advantage of conducting therapy based on your availability.
emotional abuse counseling near me.
Verbal Abuse at Work
Verbal abuse can occur in any form of relationship. It frequently happens in friendships, romantic relationships, marriages, as well as, in the workplace. Experiencing verbal abuse from an abusive boss or co-worker can be extremely detrimental to your workflow, mental health, and psychological well-being. Understanding how to confront emotional abuse can be challenging, you may be unsure of how to go about it professionally and also may be at risk of experiencing further emotional damage or losing your job.
What does verbal abuse look like at work?
Although one person’s threshold or tolerance for verbal abuse may be higher than another’s, this does not justify any form of abuse in the workplace. If your co-worker or boss is verbally abusing you, these are the signs to take as warnings;
- Assess your feelings towards what someone is saying to you. If it makes you uncomfortable or unhappy, it may be verbally abusive to you.
- The person is insulting you and making you feel horrible.
- They’re constantly putting you down or shaming you in front of other workers.
- You feel ashamed or fearful when entering the office.
- Being made to feel inferior or incapable of your job.
- Racial slurs or insults, whether disguised as a joke or not.
It is nothing to ignore if verbal abuse at work is negatively affecting you, you should report any form of emotional or verbal abuse to a higher authority in order to have it resolved effectively.
How do I address verbal abuse at work?
If the person verbally violating you is a co-worker, manager, or boss the first thing to do is to acknowledge the situation, understand that it has nothing to do with you, and then take the necessary steps to confront them. It is important to remember not to react with verbal abuse, this will only make it worse. Instead, try these effective confrontational methods.
- Make the person aware of their behaviors that are making you feel bad. Some may laugh it off or some may take you seriously, either way, it is important to let them know you are not happy with their behavior and will not tolerate it.
- Refer to your employee handbook for company regulations or punishable behaviors
- Document what is happening. If it escalates to higher authorities, it can be good to have evidence in case it becomes hearsay.
- Set firm boundaries and communicate them to the person verbally mistreating you.
- Be aware that you may or may not be supported by the company, and this will, unfortunately, result in finding another workplace.
In circumstances where there is ongoing abuse or mistreatment in the workplace, employees can start to feel negative about their environment. Consequently reducing productivity and overall well-being.
We encourage you to reach out a professional therapist for verbal abuse counseling near me or online, who will be able to effectively guide you through healing from emotional or verbal abuse in the workplace.
BetterHelp offers affordable, convenient, and effective methods of online therapy with professional and certified specialists.