Therapy was something that I was ultimately against. I never found a purpose for it, or rather, I never saw a therapist who was committed to my experience.
The first time I tried therapy was in 2008. That therapist was more focused on finding ways for me to relax, and the one thing I walked away from it with was a CD of beach and ocean sounds because I had mentioned that I found the sounds therapeutic. We never really talked about anything, just some meditation techniques, and focusing on bringing myself back to the center. At this point in my life, I had only been diagnosed with depression. I am not sure what her intent was, but I always left feeling like it was a massive waste of my time.
Fast forward to 2015, and I had been appropriately diagnosed with Bipolar II Disorder and ADHD. I was willing to try therapy, not because of my diagnosis but because my relationship was suffocating me. I felt myself further slipping away. If you remember my post Intellectual Elitism Stopped me from Receiving Talk Therapy, I was met with a therapist who did not believe my diagnosis. Whether it was race-based, appearance-based, or the way I spoke, her dismissive behavior was an absolute turn off. I told my psychiatrist I was no longer interested.
Now here we are in 2020, and COVID-19 has forced us to change our way of life. I had experienced some trauma in 2018, and it was beginning to haunt me. I no longer had my daily distractions to force the event into the furthest recesses of my mind. So, I started researching teletherapy and which apps were the best.
I frequently listen to the Hey Frase podcast (pop culture, news of the week, and topics that may or may not make you feel uncomfortable), and they had mentioned Talk Space in their ads quite a bit. I investigated it, and I was not impressed by the comments on Google Play (where are my fellow Android users at? LOL.), so I looked at the suggestions under Talk Space and found Better Help. I browsed the reviews and was happy with what I saw – a good chunk of positive experiences with bad experiences far and few between.
I chose BetterHelp. Now, my first therapist was a kind and very responsive person, but she did not have boundaries of how our therapy would work. We would frequently use the IM feature, and she provided me with great tips on self-care and mindfulness, but when I told her I was ready to face my trauma and asked her how do I begin to unpack, she gave me mindfulness techniques.
It was at that moment I realized she had served her purpose in my life, she gave me some great tools, but she was not equipped to handle my heaviest load. After some thought, I chose to change my therapist. Part of me felt like I was betraying her, but I knew in my gut if I want to get better, if I want to unlearn some behaviors, I had to move on.
BetterHelp allows you to be specific about the type of therapist you get, and they are all licensed within the state that you reside in. I specified that I needed a woman of color whose primary specialty was trauma. And then I was matched to a woman who told me upfront, her responses to IM’s are within 48 hours, and she requires voice/text/video appointments. At first, I was kind of turned off, that is until I had my first session.
I unloaded on this woman, giving her explanations to the behaviors I display before she even had an opportunity to ask. But I ended the session with tears in my eyes as I thanked her for making this the first therapy session I have had where I felt good at the end. She told me what her plans were for our journey together, and if I agreed to it, that is what we would do. I agreed because I felt safe. This woman not only stated what her boundaries were, but she set up expectations for me. It is evident that this is a profession she takes seriously, and this was not a supplemental paycheck for her.
Now, I am not saying the first therapist I had with BetterHelp did not take her job seriously, or it was just a supplemental paycheck. I do not know what her circumstances are, but she gave me too much freedom to keep her at arms-length, and when I finally told her I needed her, she kept me at arms-length.
I am looking forward to my journey with my new therapist. If you are thinking about therapy, but are overwhelmed by the many choices, check out the list I have compiled for you below.
BetterHelp: Offers access to licensed, trained, experienced, and accredited psychologists (Ph.D./PsyD), marriage and family therapists (LMFT), clinical social workers (LCSW/LMSW), and board licensed professional counselors (LPC) (BetterHelp, n.d.). The Berkley Well-Being Institute found that BetterHelp is as effective as face-to-face counseling, with 98% making significant progress, 94% preferring BetterHelp over face-to-face therapy, and 70% seeing reduced depression symptoms (BetterHelp, n.d.). You can communicate with your counselor in four ways: exchanging messages, chatting live, speaking over the phone, and video conferencing based on your needs, availability, and convenience (BetterHelp, n.d.).
BetterHelp has weekly, monthly, and quarterly plans, and you can cancel at any time for any reason:
BetterHelp is HIPAA compliant.
Talkspace: Talkspace therapists have been carefully vetted and trained to use Talkspace and have 3,000 hours of clinical experience (Talk Space, n.d.). Talkspace therapists have additional training in specific approaches to therapy, which include Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Existential-humanistic, Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, Psychodynamic, Mindfulness, and more, and the therapist will be licensed in the state that you reside in (Talkspace, n.d.). Talkspace partners with a few health plans in the U.S. to provide therapy to employees through the employee assistance program (EAP) (Talkspace, n.d.). If not covered by insurance, you can utilize your credit or debit card and submit the bill to your Flexible Spending Account (FSA) or Health Saving Account (HAS) plan administrator (Talkspace, n.d.).
Per Talkspace (n.d.) they have monthly, quarterly, and biannual plans:
TeenCounseling: Teens aged 13-19 can access licensed therapists online and based on a flat membership fee that covers the usage of the platform and unlimited counseling for both parent and child (TeenCounseling, n.d.). Counseling through TeenCounseling ranges from $40 to $70 per week (billed monthly) and includes messaging, chats, phone, and video sessions. Counselors are licensed, trained, and experienced psychologists (Ph.D./PsyD), marriage and family therapists (LMFT), clinical social workers (LCSW/LMSW), and board licensed professional counselors (LPC) (TeenCounseling, n.d.).
TeenCounseling is HIPAA compliant.
Faithful Counseling: Designed as a solution for people seeking traditional mental health counseling from the perspective of a Christian (Faithful Counseling, n.d.). Faithful Counseling gives you the ability to connect with your counselor at ay time in a manner that is most comfortable and convenient for you (phone, video call, or messaging) and ability to change your therapist if need be (Faithful Counseling, n.d.). Faithful Counseling ranges from $40 to $70 per week (billed monthly) (Faithful Counseling, n.d.).
If you choose to seek out therapy, I hope one of these options works out for you. If you wish to visit their website, you can either click on their name directly or from the references below.
Until next time – Love, Peace, and Chicken Grease <3
BetterHelp. (n.d.) Frequently asked questions. Retrieved from: https://www.betterhelp.com/faq/
Faithful Counseling. (n.d.) Frequently asked questions. Retrieved from: https://www.faithfulcounseling.com/faq/
TalkSpace. (n.d.) Frequently asked questions. Retrieved from: https://help.talkspace.com/hc/en-us?_ga=2.204034128.1797835826.1593927026-1033124496.1593927024
TeenCounseling. (n.d.) Frequently asked questions. Retrieved from: https://www.teencounseling.com/faq/?parent=1
BITD is a blog designed to educate on mental illness and maintain mental wellness through personal experiences.