By Passion Biagas
With the pandemic hitting us hard, we have been faced with some pretty big and life changing struggles. Mentally, physically, and especially emotionally. Most losing social skills as well as picking up anxiety or depression. With many young teens never being faced with these new feelings before. And others falling back into that cycle once again. There has been an increase in therapy. I am also in therapy as well. And it has changed my life for the better. I’ve sat down with my own therapist, (who prefers to stay anonymous to ensure her clients’ privacy, but we’ll call her Samantha for this article). She received her Master’s degree in recreational therapy from San Jose State. We talked about how it may help you as well. Along with the increasing mental struggle caused by the pandemic.
This interview has been edited for clarity and length
Passion: So,the first question is, how long have you been a therapist?
Samantha: I’m actually a masters of social work student now. So I’m not technically officially a therapist, but I have been in school for the last year and a half. And then before that I was a certified recreation therapist. So I graduated from that program back in 2016. If we’re talking about general therapy, probably the last five years..
Passion: How does therapy help? What techniques do you use?
Samantha: I think if a therapist does their job correctly, they give them a space to talk about all those things that they might feel that they’re judged on, or that they overthink about and give them a space to have a conversation about some of those topics that they probably don’t regularly talk to their friends or their network about. I do a lot of “cbt”, cognitive behavioral therapy. What we do is use an emotions wheel to identify clients’ feelings and then work on how those affect behavior. Once we identify a feeling, we can go deeper and use different techniques to learn how to cope in the world. I like to give people the space to not feel like they have to sit in a chair or lay down. Be Analyzed. I like them to be very involved in their sessions.
Passion: Can you tell me about someone in your practice who was helped by therapy?
Samantha: Can I say you [smiles]? Can I talk about you? You’re okay with me talking about you in the third person [laughs]. like you’re not here. Yeah, Passion came in very, very angry and shut off. And in the relations that we’ve had, there’s a lot of distrust with other therapists and opening up and to be able to break that barrier and to be able to have conversations and sort of dive deeper. Even in the first two sessions, i’ve seen positive changes, although there is still a lot of anger inside, but I think the first step is really building rapport, and being able to teach Passion that there are people out there who really care and want her to be happy, healthy and whole and that they care about what’s happened in her life previously and how it affects her life. I think it’s going to be a longer process, but I think this is a really good start.
Passion: Have you seen an increase in people’s interest in therapy, especially with the pandemic?
Samantha: Abso-freakin’-lutely!! The pandemic was one of these very, very isolating and anxiety driven moments. People were locked in their houses. The information that was coming in was very confusing. At first it was going to be two weeks that we were going to be on lock down and then it turned into two months. Then it’s that people are dying. Which causes other people to be scared to go out. And how that affects people’s mental health is to not be able to do normal things and feel normal. Like going to the grocery store to get food, just basic necessary items. Now that we’re kind of coming out of it, there is this shift in people’s minds of what normal is. Everybody’s been on a computer, so how do we socialize outside of that? People’s anxiety levels are from people who are stuck home with their families 24/7, and have dealt with a lot of depression.I see a lot of that. So there is this increase in people’s need to seek out help. Because they need help navigating this new kind of world.
passion : What issues are playing young people today,
Samantha: The most I would say, a lot of anxiety. Anxiety is one of those big ones that looks very different for different people. Anxiety and depression are like best friends in mental health. Most of the time you see both of them together but anxiety looks like anger anxiety,looks like fear anxiety. There’s this whole spectrum of what anxiety looks like. So that’s what I’ve noticed the most.
Passion has any changes have been made to a typical therapy sessions after covid
Samantha : Yeah, I have to do a lot of my therapy sessions over the computer because people aren’t coming into campus. Some people want to be socially distanced. I have to wear masks most of the time. Unless, people feel comfortable. But there’s still a level of nonverbal communication that we’re missing out on because of certain barriers due to the pandemic.
Passion: Then the last question is, what would you say to anybody afraid of starting therapy due to feeling hopeless?
Samantha: My advice would be try it, and if you don’t like it try it again. Because the first therapist you meet is not always going to be the one for you. It’s kind of weird because therapy is like dating. Sometimes you like them, sometimes they irritate the crap out of you, sometimes they don’t help you. So don’t lose the hope and just try it.You can use an hour of your time then decide not to come back.You know, I tell everybody you don’t have to stay for the full hour. I offer them to leave in the first five minutes. Or you can stay the whole time and see what it will bring. The other piece of advice is not to be long-winded. You have to be ready to come in and want to work on some of those problems. Being very self aware of how a problem is affecting your life, and at some point say I want to nip it in the book. That’s when I see people coming in and they just want to make the best decision for themselves . So just be ready because it’s not about the hour that you come in. It’s all the things you take from that hour to do the homework.