This week’s post is a review of online therapy platform Healingclouds because, considering we’ve all been coping with that tiny little thing called the Coronavirus pandemic, I’ve decided I needed help. Read on to find out what to expect from the platform.
Why I’m Going Back To Therapy
You don’t need me to tell you that the pandemic has messed with a lot of people’s mental health. As someone already affected by anxiety, depression, and PTSD, it’s been quite the challenge: if you read this blog, you know I’ve spent my lockdown completely alone for three months, overworking and overthinking, so much that I truly believe lockdown will be a form of trauma for me for a while.
I thought I’d worked on myself enough. I spent a gruelling year between 2018 and 2019 going to talking therapy and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, facing all the traumas I’d buried, feeling them again, finding coping mechanisms to deal with the aftermath. I was very fortunate to access them for free, through the Mind Charity and the NHS. But I thought that was it.
Turns out Coronavirus had other plans. All my coping mechanisms went out of the window, and I was lonely, touch starved, far from all my loved ones and, now, I live in constant fear of a new lockdown. Basically, I just need to find new coping mechanisms to manage the uncertainty we’re all facing in a way that is consistent with my existing conditions and my personality.
What Is Healingclouds?
Healingclouds is an affordable web-based mental health and wellbeing platform connecting users to a pool of therapists via video call.
The service offers 60 to 90 minutes sessions of therapies from approved and accredited practitioners, including cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT), psychological counselling and psychotherapy.
Healingclouds’ monthly subscription packages range from basic (£45 a month, with one therapy session) to premium packages (four sessions at £140 a month). All packages include unlimited direct messages to therapists and access to Healingclouds’ online resources.
Similarly to offline therapy, Healingclouds therapists are bound by confidentially clauses and a code of ethics; they all go through a vetting process and they are certified in their relevant practice. Plus, to look after your privacy, the platform is protected by encryption technology.
In creating the platform, Healingclouds founder Asim Amin was inspired by his mother, who suffered from depression when he was a child and found help through therapy.
Asim said: “In the past mental health has not been publicised in the same way that physical health has.” He argues that, just like people go to the gym to improve their physical health, they should do the same with their mental health.
Through the service, Asim wants to get rid of the barriers preventing people from seeking help, such as costs or stigma. With long waiting lists in free, public health therapy services, and private therapy costing even £100 per session, Asim saw a gap in the market for an immediate, affordable therapy platform.
Healingclouds offers users access to a therapist as early as the next day, from their own homes, eliminating additional travel costs often associated with a face to face service and any pandemic-related extra anxieties.
My Experience With Healingclouds
Aside from the name – which old metal me found a bit too fluffy – I was very pleased with my Healingclouds experience. I was so pleased that, in fact, I’ll be buying a subscription so that I can work on managing my anxiety in this new, scary Covid world throughout the Autumn.
On the platform, you are matched with your therapist after completing a short online questionnaire. You can decide to work on anything from anxiety to addiction, from personal growth to relationships. Given the experiences and symptoms I shared in my online questionnaire, I was paired with a CBT therapist. This was a great idea because, having done a lot of therapy in the past, I am now able to recognise the main causes of my anxiety and my main reactions to it – I just need a way to manage when I feel trapped or down because I’m anxious.
When you log into your Healingclouds dashboard, you find a “Start Session” button that shows a connection page when you wait for your therapist. You speak to them via a camera you authorise straight from your browser. The user experience is smooth and seamless.
In my session, my therapist and I got to know each other and discussed the main issues I wanted do deal with, which are often related to managing uncertainty. We identified ways in which therapy has already helped me and spoke about how feelings connected to past experiences influence me. I’ll probably be looking at treatment for six sessions to identify some coping mechanisms together.
Starting therapy can be scary, but I’m used to it now. I was only worried that adding an additional barrier between me and my therapist – a screen – was going to increase the distance between us, making my session feel impersonal. Luckily, my therapist was very friendly and put me at ease straight away. Healingclouds’ admin team, too, were always available through a chat window on the side of my video call, and were incredibly efficient and personable when fixing a minor glitch that made it seem like my session had already taken place.
Particularly if you’re very busy and, like me, you often find yourself jumping from one task or world to another, Healingclouds can be a very time-efficient way to work on your mental health. Yesterday, for instance, I spent my morning working on my final PhD draft, went to the park for a break and trained in the afternoon. Because my Healingclouds session was at 6.15 PM, I could easily go from my post-training shower to my session without having to factor in a lengthy commute. Plus, it’s quite reassuring to know that even if (LET’S HOPE NOT!) any further restrictions were to be introduced, I can still have my therapy session online.
As a broke PhD student working (and earning) even less to focus on submitting my thesis, I can’t really afford Healingclouds’ premium package. However, I’ve decided to purchase their £45 basic package because my experience with the service was good, because my mental health really needs a boost and because, with underfunded and overcrowded public mental health services, I don’t feel like waiting for therapy and don’t want to overburden an already struggling industry.
*Healingclouds gifted me my first session for review purposes, but all opinions are my own.