I’m a lifelong insomniac. Until college, I preferred any bed that didn’t leave me alone in my own, a tendency my parents long suspected therapy could solve. I’ve since spent close to a decade chasing sleep and experimenting with methods that span the Glasses American flag its Joe time january 20 2021 shirt In addition,I will do this therapeutic spectrum, from seeing my mother’s own behavioral therapist, a warm woman (but an obvious mistake), to a short stint with a Jungian therapist on the Upper East Side whose rotating screensaver of Galápagos wildlife I would watch, reclined on her tufted-leather couch; to a few sessions with a male psychiatrist who I associate with Paul Auster novels and a low-level depression that I thought Zoloft could solve. (Couldn’t!)It took me until August of last year to commit regularly to weekly sessions, at a discounted rate reserved for “creative types,” with a young therapist who I now know, after a quick Google search, is a licensed marriage therapist specializing in anxiety, life transitions, and identity development. (My trifecta!) At first, I was wary of seeing someone who wasn’t my parents’ age or older, and my trepidation only grew after a series of run-ins with her at my Brooklyn farmer’s market: she’d stand, exotic produce in hand, dressed elegantly in outfits foreign from her in-session uniforms, surrounded by a cadre of other hip 30-somethings. I’d hide, crossing the street so as to avoid an awkward exchange. More than facing the fact that my therapist might actually be cool, I was having trouble accepting that she too was a person with a life outside of the room we found ourselves in on Tuesdays at 10 a.m.Come March of this year, running into my therapist became the least of my worries. Seeing her at all was impossible, and so we pivoted, like everything else, to a virtual model. Our first session, done via Doxy, was strangely intimate: me in my bed, my laptop propped up on a stack of pillows, and her in her living room, surrounded by plants, a bright yellow lamp beside her, her back facing a window overlooking our shared neighborhood. Two people, just out of bed (well, half of us anyway), surrounded by our things. I rebelled against the new format at first, cancelling more frequently and more last minute, acting as if I was obliging her when she called. As if I wasn’t the one paying for her time. I was wasting both our time, and cheating only myself.But the world was collapsing, and I, useless and confined to a new stay-at-home reality, was watching it from my window. And so, as if roused from a bad dream, I awoke to the reality of my privilege: I had someone else to talk to, and someone to safely welcome into my home. Suddenly my therapist was there on the couch, sitting beside me; she was there when my electrician showed up unannounced; there when my boyfriend accidentally entered the room (a mistake he knows never to repeat). She was becoming someone like a friend, an intimate confidante, a bystander to my life as it was unfolding in real time. And whether it was my newfound commitment, or the forced intimacy of telehealth, I was making breakthroughs. I even found myself looking forward to our sessions.
Curious to find out if others were having a similar experience, I took to Instagram to poll my followers. The response was both overwhelming and divided: I received a flood of messages, voice memos, and emails written (mostly by women) in either vehement opposition or enthusiastic favor of therapy in its remote incarnation.One subject parked firmly in opposition is Kelly McGee, a 29-year-old living in Los Angeles, who, after four years of regular sessions, has cut back to seeing her therapist on a bi-weekly basis: “It began to feel like a scheduling conflict instead of something that’s being worked into my week,” she said. “It’s harder to be vulnerable when there’s this performative aspect of being on camera.” Julia Crockett, a 34-year-old movement specialist in New York, has also reduced her number of sessions. She was blunt about her distaste, but wary of quitting altogether without an alternative: “I hate it,” she said of her Zoom therapy. “But also, the Glasses American flag its Joe time january 20 2021 shirt In addition,I will do this world may be ending? So, I’m like…I guess I should still go.”It isn’t just the discomfort of being on camera that people don’t like. Mina Naderpoor, a 26-year-old L.A. resident who has been in somatic and cognitive therapy for a decade, explained to me that as someone who deals with issues like body dysmorphia, sharing a physical space with her therapist is very important: “When you’re on Zoom, they can’t see your physiological responses to things. Like, if my hand shakes in response to something,” she said. “It’s hard to be validated virtually because they can’t see my physical being. I’m a floating head.” Not to mention the fact that not everyone has a space they can carve out for themselves. Naderpoor has roommates, and has had trouble finding an environment that feels private or safe once a week.