It's no secret that Americans are stressed out.
According to a report published by the American Psychological Association last year, America is in the midst of a national mental health crisis, with 77% of adults citing "the future of our nation" as a significant source of stress. And according to additional research conducted by Savvy Sleeper, which analyzed data from the International Labour Organization, the Global Employee Engagement Index, and the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, Los Angeles is the most burnt-out city in the United States, and the 9th most exhausted city in the world.
While the end of the tunnel for the global pandemic nears with each passing day, Angelenos are still subject to an incredible number of stressors. From unexpected joblessness and recovering from a fraught national political scene to quarantine-spurred loneliness…or simply longing for normal life. And with that amount of stress, it's no wonder telehealth therapy has taken hold. And the team behind Two Chairs, a relationship-focused psychotherapy startup now offering virtual services in L.A., believe they have the answer for Angelenos.
Two Chairs, which plans to open its fifth physical California location in Downtown L.A. later this year, was founded by entrepreneur Alex Katz three years ago after he watched his partner struggle with depression, and then struggle (some more) to find a suitable therapist. Katz noticed a lack of centralized services, confusing options (What's an LMFT, again?), and the hassle of dealing with insurance — all of which delayed his partner's path to recovery.
Then there was the general stigma surrounding mental health. It was difficult enough to ask for help, but the system, according to Katz, seemed to make things more burdensome.
Katz wanted a simpler approach to getting the right help. With physical locations and virtual services offered across the Bay Area and more recently in Los Angeles, Two Chairs uses a custom-developed matching process informed by decades of clinical research, as well as data collected in-house, and has now helped over 5,000 clients across California.
Two Chairs hopes to demystify the process of entering therapy from start to finish, and their process is, indeed, easy. First, prospective clients take part in a 45-minute matching appointment, in which a clinician assists the patient in identifying what issues they hope to tackle (like anxiety, marital issues, past trauma, or perfectionism), the kind of therapy they might need, and the type of therapist they're looking for, including gender, personality type, and other preferences that are often difficult to articulate.
The clinician will then consult a repertoire of over 60 licensed therapists (with licenses including LMFT, PsyD, PhD, LCSW, and more) to determine the best match, and get clients set up for treatment. The company also says it assists in submitting insurance claims, although it is currently an out-of-network provider.
Taking the leap to begin therapy can certainly be intimidating. But with increased access to telehealth like Two Chairs, Angelenos can relax (at least a little bit) knowing they finally have more versatile options, and no longer need to scour their insurance websites' directory.
While you figure out if therapy is right for you, Two Chairs therapists Mariah Dillard, LMFT, Stephanie Noble-King, LMFT and Payton Somers, LPCC have compiled a quick guide to managing stress and anxiety in the face of the unknown (read: all of 2020 and 2021), and to remind us that Angelenos are not alone.
Read on below, then book a matching appointment for a Two Chairs therapist online here or over the phone with a Care Coordinator at (408) 872-9402. For questions regarding insurance and payment, check out the website, and stay tuned for updates on the opening of the physical location in L.A. later this year.
1. Stop Stirring Up Your Hornets
I like to think of us as all having a barrel of hornets. When we are often angry and upset, they get stirred up. But as they have nowhere to go, all we are left with is a storm of angry hornets going through our body; encouraging our fight or flight system without having an outlet for either. Whether you are simply trying to get through your workday, connect with family, or participating in social justice work—you will be severely limited if your hornets are running amok.
2. Embrace Emotions
Running away from your feelings rather than tending to them can cause our anxiety to become debilitating. Allow your valid feelings to come and go and care for them in a compassionate way. Anger, sadness, confusion, and helplessness are normal and require patience and care as you navigate life around the election.
3. Avoid Doom Scrolling
"It's normal to feel pressure to stay up to date with the news, and consume as much media as possible. However, persistently scrolling through bad news, chaos, and negativity can cause anxious feelings. Putting time limits on apps or even putting our phone away for the day can help ease worried feelings to constantly check the state of the world."
4. Deep Breathing
During times of stress, belly-breathing and box breathing can help ground us and feel more peaceful. Try 4-7-8 breathing to help in moments of overwhelm: Inhale through your nose for four seconds. Hold your breath for seven seconds. Exhale completely through your mouth for eight seconds.
5. Zoom Out and Ground Down
If we zoom out, we are one person in a very large world that is constantly shifting and changing. But in this moment, you are safe, you are most likely home, and have at least one person or beloved pet in your life that cares for you. Remind yourself of what is good in your life, what brings you joy or a sense of peace. When we are grounded in the moment, this can help us to reflect and regroup quicker after a difficult life event.
6. Lean Into Your Community
While this has been made exponentially more difficult due to COVID-19, our chosen communities still play a vital role in our happiness. Whatever the outcome may be of the election, plan to reach out to people who can support you and may be experiencing similar feelings.