Every generation has its challenges, and at some point they all feel the bottom is falling off their world. As American author and therapist Virginia Satir said, “Problems are not the problems; coping is the problem.”
The currently living 74.9 million Baby Boomers who are fading into retirement, are losing 4,900 of their parents each day. Not only the loss of parents, many of them are also dealing with the loss of spouses, and the challenges of retirement. On the other hand, the 75.4 million Millennials have their own issues. They may have done extremely well academically, and many have good jobs, but many also have little faith in their self-worth and their ability to make good decisions. Living with their parents has eroded their self-worth even more, and they believe they don’t measure up to what they should be. Satya Byock, psychotherapist from Oregon, says, that Millennials are challenged by the need for “quantifiable success” — like good grades, brand-name colleges, sports trophies and Facebook likes. “Everything is so quantified that the quality of life becomes less important,” she said. The American Psychological Association, found that millennials are more stressed and are less able to handle it than earlier generations.
In a world that is constantly letting them down with rollercoaster changes, these generations, despite their difference in years, find themselves lost and alone. However, as British philosopher, Alan Watts, said, “The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it, move with it and join the dance.”’
Despite the stigma still attached to psychotherapy, that it is only for crazy people, Millennials as well as Baby boomers are reaching for online psychotherapy. One of its biggest plus points is its anonymity. Unlike an office visit, nobody need to know at all. Patient convenience is another reason why online therapy is popular. Not everyone is able to take time off work and get to a clinic during weekdays, and a therapy session one can take in the comfort of home, at a convenient time, boosts interest in trying it. Online therapy is more affordable too, unlike in-person therapy, which is quite pricey. Also, certain types of mental disorders like social anxiety, are better handled online because the need to meet a stranger in an office setting, does not arise.
Meanwhile a study on the subject done by the University of California in Berkeley, found patients using online therapy had visible improvement in their mental health and well-being.
Millennials, as the first digital natives, having grown up with the Internet, probably see online therapy as the easiest and most comforting remedy. What is surprising is, Baby Boomers are familiar with online activity too. A study by Google found that Boomers and seniors spend more time online than watching TV.
Nevertheless, as Sam Nabil, founder of Naya Clinics, says, “Online counseling is not suitable for all clients. We will assess each client to determine if online counseling is the best medium for therapy.”
Nabil, who pioneered Positive Existential Therapy (PET), an innovative avant garde approach to psychotherapy, has multicultural work experience over two decades. He is, therefore, able to view problems in a broader, more diversified context.
While training at counseling school, Nabil was “deeply dissatisfied” with the importance given to the Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) approach. Says Nabil, ‘I believed that CBT was harsh and impersonal, although it was presented as the most applicable and efficient way of doing counseling.”
Nabil considered Existential psychotherapy a better option because of its “candor, humanity, and deep insights.” But as he read deeper into the lives of the existential philosophers who subsequently became existential psychotherapists, he saw that they themselves had experienced troubling traumatic experiences which influenced their view of life at a deep level. Nabil said, “That to me was a big stumbling block in finding a counseling approach that I was fully convinced with.”
There was another reason he could not accept the Existential approach. As he explained, “The ideas of existential psychotherapy that blossomed in an era of world war two, the holocaust, and the mass killing and destruction of the middle of the 20th century can NOT – for all their wisdom – be used to engage clients born in the prosperity, stability, and focus on wellness and progress that dominated the last decades of the 20th century.”
This is what paved the way for Nabil to introduce his own PET approach to the world. He took the most appealing features of the Existential approach and merged them with “carefully curated and clinically tested elements of positive psychology, to create a counseling approach that is born of our new circumstances and conditions, and that is designed to reinvent therapy for the 21st century.”
Nabil is encouraged by the appreciation of his clients. Said one grateful individual, “Professional and caring towards those he interacts with. I admire his ability to connect with people and make differences in their lives.” Another client commented, “Made me think about things in a way I hadn’t thought of before. He is sharp and gentle in a way I have not come across before.”
Nabil’s pioneering effort appears to be catching on as he has opened up several branches of Naya Clinics in Ohio, also in Kentucky and Indianapolis. Apart from Online Therapy and Online Coaching, he and his well-trained staff also provide relationship counseling, in-person therapy and coaching and alternative healing.
He believes that the PET approach which is client-centered and results-oriented, works because it is “a radical departure” from what therapy was supposed to be. Having experienced a variety of cultures over decades, Nabil brings a unique perspective and unassailable hope into lives wracked by hopelessness. It is like Victor Hugo said in Les Miserables, “Even the darkest night will end and the sun will rise.”