In an era marked by global challenges such as war, pandemic, and social upheaval, the concept of collective trauma has become increasingly relevant. The impact of witnessing these events, coupled with the strain of daily life, has brought mental health to the forefront. In this context, online therapy has emerged as a powerful tool to address collective trauma, providing a lifeline for individuals who might otherwise struggle to access traditional in-person therapy.
Defining Collective Trauma
Collective trauma is a term that encapsulates the shared psychological and emotional wounds experienced by a community or society in the aftermath of distressing events. These events can range from war and conflict to pandemics and social injustices. The interconnectedness of our world means that individuals are often exposed to traumatic events on a global scale, amplifying the collective impact on mental health. Though this term is not currently an official diagnosis in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), many therapists are trying to advocate for this to change.
At Women of Color Therapy, we certainly understand that collective trauma from racism and micro to macro aggressions is very real. Of course, we can diagnose using the DSM, but if we do not recognize that anxiety and depression for our clients is deeply influenced by the racism they experience, we do them a disservice. Living in a country that continues to perpetuate systems built on the backs of our ancestors can orchestrate symptoms very akin to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, especially with mounting incidents during routine stops.
The ongoing conflict in Palestine has been a harrowing example of collective trauma. As a person of color, witnessing the genocide and oppression in this region can take a toll on mental health. The pain, anger, and helplessness experienced by individuals, even from a distance, underscore the need for effective mental health interventions. Witnessing injustices in the world committed against other helpless and colonized groups, such as in Palestine and Ukraine, can trigger the reminder of our own trauma in our own country. The associated anxiety, depression, and trauma symptoms can become unbearable despite not personally experiencing the wars and crimes. For tips on how to alleviate these symptoms in your daily life, read this article from the American Psychiatric Association. How to handle the trauma of war from afar (apa.org)
The Rise of Online Therapy During the Pandemic
The COVID-19 pandemic drastically altered the landscape of mental health care, prompting a surge in the adoption of online therapy. With lockdowns and social distancing measures in place, traditional in-person therapy became challenging for many. Virtual emerged as a viable alternative, breaking down barriers to access and offering a lifeline for those in need. One of the most significant advantages of online therapy is its newfound accessibility. Individuals who previously faced obstacles to in-person therapy – such as mothers, people in rural areas, and those in low-income communities – found solace in the virtual realm. The flexibility of seeing a therapist online allowed people to seek support without the constraints of geographical distance or financial limitations. With the increasing collective trauma, people often don’t have time to wait for the perfect in person connection or a break in their busy schedules. It is vitally important to seek immediate care, and virtual therapy is that immediate care. There is no need to figure out travel time or finding two to three hours to accommodate that travel and session. To book a free consultation for virtual care with WOC, click here. Contact Women of Color Therapy | WOC Therapy
Challenges of Online Therapy and Addressing Concerns
While online therapy presents a revolutionary approach to mental health care, it is not without its challenges. Skepticism and concerns about the efficacy of virtual sessions are legitimate. Addressing issues such as internet connectivity, confidentiality, and the perceived lack of personal connection is crucial. However, advancements in technology and secure platforms have mitigated many of these concerns, ensuring a safe and effective therapeutic experience. At WOC, we use a secure therapy platform, Simple Practice, to run our virtual therapy sessions. We uphold ethical guidelines, making sure that we are in a quiet and secure location, and our clients are too. Even if a client mentions that they are comfortable with their family members overhearing, we still ask them to find a quiet and secure place. We are dedicated to protecting confidentiality. In the case of losing internet service, we have private numbers that we call our clients on, still maintaining the confidential space. In the case of personal connection, many of our clients feel closer to us because they are able to maintain sessions when they are on vacation, move further away from the office, or enter a busy schedule. Our relationships are strengthened by the longevity and lack of cancellation.
Benefits of Online Therapy in Collective Trauma
Accessibility: Online therapy transcends geographical barriers, making mental health support accessible to individuals in remote areas or regions with limited resources.
Flexibility: The flexibility of scheduling virtual sessions accommodates diverse lifestyles, making it easier for individuals with busy schedules, such as mothers or those working multiple jobs, to prioritize mental health.
Affordability: In many cases, online therapy proves to be a more cost-effective option, removing financial barriers that may have deterred individuals from seeking traditional therapy. Especially in Los Angeles, you are saving precious gas money and travel time.
Cultural Competence: Online therapy platforms often provide a diverse range of therapists, allowing individuals to connect with professionals who understand their cultural background and unique challenges.
Empowerment Through Technology: The use of technology empowers individuals to take control of their mental health journey. Apps, chat-based therapy, and other virtual tools offer innovative ways to engage with therapeutic practices.
As we navigate the complexities of collective trauma, online therapy stands as a beacon of hope. Its ability to transcend barriers, provide accessibility, and adapt to diverse needs positions it as a transformative force in mental health care. In the face of global challenges, embracing the benefits of online therapy becomes not only a practical choice but a crucial step toward healing and resilience in the collective human experience.