Let me make one thing clear: Everyone could use a little therapy in their lives.
This is exceptionally evident in a year like 2020, in which anxiety surrounding our futures and even basic daily tasks is abundant. Not to mention, with social restrictions being heavily reinstated, talking to an expert is necessary to help alleviate the stress and isolation of a quarantined existence.
If you’ve never gone to therapy or dislike the concept based on prior experiences, now’s the time to test the waters. Though virtual sessions once seemed like a cop-out for in-person therapy, they are actually more advantageous.
After all, in-person therapy sessions can be deeply uncomfortable. Yes, therapy is designed to console those who need it most, but if you can’t afford a high-end therapist, you might find that the therapy you pay for is a bit more distressing simply because of the environment in which it takes place. And this environment doesn’t have to be physically uncomfortable` to be emotionally unpleasant.
Visiting a complete stranger who claims to have insight into your life in the hopes that you leave with an improved situation is awkward. If you end up crying, which is a plausible effect during these meetings, you’re left sitting in a room sobbing in front of someone you barely know.
It’s OK to feel inherently off about fully opening up to someone. I can admit that in years of therapy sessions, I rarely felt more fulfilled after speaking with a professional; often, I felt I took myself down a path of further anguish, finding more to be upset about after I left. But that’s the engrossing, uncomfortable bit of therapy. The intensity of sitting in a small area with a stranger while they try to uncover your trauma can’t be understated.
Yet as virtual therapy becomes the primary form of treatment for those seeking mental assistance or simply an opportunity to vent, these intense anxieties are diminished. This is because rather than stepping into an unusual new space with an unusual person, therapy-goers now have the luxury of speaking with a professional from their own home, surrounded by familiarity.
At-home therapy over the internet carries its own set of anxieties, however. If you don’t live on your own, you likely don’t want your roommates eavesdropping on what is supposedly an intimate moment of self-reflection.
There are few situations more awkward than sitting outside your apartment, talking about your depression over the past week with your therapist on Zoom while your neighbor fiddles with their keys for six straight minutes, either unable to lock their door or invested in what you had to say. But then again, that awkwardness is preferable to those you live with hearing your deepest anxieties, especially when those anxieties might involve your current roommate situation to begin with.
Regardless, these anxieties will likely not affect your virtual therapy. For those who worry about their physical appearance, you need not turn your camera on! On the other hand, the confirmation that a real person is invested in your well-being, though across a screen, is just as tangible as in-person therapy yet less intimidating.
It would seem that now, more than ever before, going to therapy is less stigmatized due to a combination of the United States’ chaotic existence and the ease of access from home. This is true to a certain extent: Virtual therapy allows one to unpack their emotions without entering an uncomfortably intense space.
Alternatively, bouncing your stresses off of friends, family or anyone you hold dear to you is a great idea in theory. But this year has been hard for everyone, and frankly, many loved ones aren’t in a position to emotionally support you or help you work toward solutions the way you might need. Constant anxiety, depression or panic over the state of the world and life in general is a feeling which, if projected onto others with no professional support, can wear on those around you.
Whether they work in private practice or for a publicly funded organization, these professionals are more important to the public than ever. Therapists can hold your foundation together just as a set of ears upon which you can unleash your quarantine laments. If you don’t like traditional forms of in-person therapy, now is the time to take advantage of a more comfortable setting.
So, what are you waiting for?