I am somewhat surprised by Amy’s findings too, that she much preferred not having video calls with a therapist. But when I read this paragraph, it started to make a little more sense.
“To my surprise, my favorite method of communicating with an online therapist was via messaging. I found myself being more open and honest when I was communicating via message as opposed to video chat. It was easier to acknowledge some of those not-so-shining moments in my life when I didn’t have someone looking at me.”
I think that is a big thing, bigger than may of us realize, and is becoming even bigger with younger generations. As an abuse survivor, I am fairly sure that I could talk more openly about my past with someone through my blog, email, social media, or text message, than I might when meeting face to face, because I don’t have to see their immediate reaction. The look they get on their face that they have almost no control over.
That look can be tough. The shock can be off putting to someone new to sharing their story, the sadness can cause more emotion that we were prepared for, the anger can cause us to shrink away, etc. But it’s the very real reaction of someone hearing it for the first time, and it can’t be helped.
If I’m writing about it, and you’re reading, you can have that reaction, do whatever you want with it, and I don’t have to see it and deal with it.
So, I get that feeling of being a bit more open in a message.
I also get that sometimes a thought, or question, can come up at very random times, and trying to remember to ask about it at the next session can be tough. I think this is where the younger generation is when it comes to communication, and where many of us “old” folks are going as well. When I’m thinking about something, or someone, I send a message. I don’t assume they will respond right away, and I don’t sit around waiting for that response. I start the conversation, and then go about my day, until they get back to me. In this way, many of our conversations now span days, or weeks, instead of 10-15 minutes, but they aren’t limited by time constraints either. I don’t have to wait for the other person to have time to meet, or an open appointment time in the case of Amy’s experiments, to keep in contact with them on a regular basis.
I think there’s something very powerful about that, especially right now when our alternatives for face to face meetings are severely limited. Yes, we’re seeing more people connecting through video calls online, but that’s mostly because we’re all home and have time. When we start to move out of this quarantine, the chances of a group of your friends all being home and available on a random evening for happy hour get less, and less, until it becomes impossible. Then, we go right back to texts, Facebook messages, etc. It shouldn’t surprise me that there’d be some comfort in doing the same thing in a therapeutic setting, right?
What do you think? Would you “message” a therapist in the way Amy describes? Are you “meeting” with your therapist online now? How’s that going?