Photo by Maddie Topliff
BY MADDIE TOPLIFF
A New York-based mental health care provider is taking on traditional therapy, making counseling more accessible for college students while simultaneously challenging the stigmas that come along with counseling.
Last August, co-founders Brandon and Cassie Christensen launched Modern Therapy, a “telehealth” service that allows professional help to be only a text, email or call away.
Cassie comes from a background of private practice, a background that made her realize there was a more efficient way to communicate with patients that varied from traditional sit-down sessions.
Private practice therapy is also expensive, Brandon said. Out-of-pocket costs have the ability to easily run $80-$250 an hour. Modern Therapy, on the other hand, starts at $25 per week for unlimited emails and text messages. The low costs happen to align perfectly with the ideals of the company.
“Our mission as a company is to make mental health care more affordable, more accessible and a little less scary,” Brandon said.
Accessibility can become an obstacle right away with private practice. Cassie mentioned that it can take anywhere from two weeks to around a month in order to get started. With Modern Therapy, individuals can start working with a therapist within 48 hours.
College students may need that heightened accessibility, and Modern Therapy has been able to assist with that.
“It really opened my eyes when I started working with my college kids back on a weekly basis,” Cassie said, addressing that long breaks in treatment caused by school weren’t beneficial to her college clients’ ideal mental health progress.
One of the largest misconceptions about therapy is the clientele, historian of Drake University’s To Write Love On Her Arms Sarah Antongiovanni said.
“Anyone at any time in their life can go through any of these issues, and it doesn’t mean that there’s something wrong with you,” Antongiovanni said. “A lot of times, it’s the idea that if you’ve asked for help, you’re weak.”
Dr. Greg Lengel, a psychology professor at Drake, said that these stigmas come from a lack of education in addition to one’s personal backgrounds and beliefs.
“I believe much of the stigma related to seeking help for mental health issues stems from a few issues,” Lengel said. “First, there is a lack of information and accurate media portrayals of mental illness and psychotherapy. In addition, personal, familial and cultural beliefs and norms can shape and bias one’s opinion about mental health treatment. For example, someone who believes that a depressed or anxious male should ‘man up’ and ‘deal with it’ on his own might stigmatize someone seeking help—or, if personally affected by depression or anxiety, might avoid seeking help or self-medicate in a maladaptive manner.”
Both on-campus organizations like TWLOHA and off-campus companies like Modern Therapy are available to help combat stigmas and assist Drake students in dealing with whatever problems they find themselves facing, whether they have a diagnosable mental illness or not.
“There’s a lot of people who could benefit from (therapy) who haven’t tried it because they think that you need to be mentally ill in order to work with a therapist,” Brandon said. “And that couldn’t be further from the truth.”
Although the online therapy format is still a new practice, there is published research that proves its effectiveness. 9,764 clients participated in a study published in Volume 26 of the Journal of Technology of Human Services, stating that the effects of face-to-face therapy and online therapy were found to be “quite similar.” The Journal also states that the studies and review of similar academic work “provide strong support for the adoption of online psychological interventions as a legitimate therapeutic activity and suggest several insights in regard to its application.”
“For anyone who’s never tried therapy, it’s a great way to get your feet wet,” Brandon said. “I would absolutely encourage students of Drake University to give it a try.”
“No one is ever alone in feeling like sometimes school is a little too much for them to deal with,” she said.
Brandon said to visit moderntherapy.online to find more information.