Curious to find out if others were having a similar experience, I took to Instagram to poll my followers. The response was both overwhelming and divided: I received a flood of messages, voice memos, and emails written (mostly by women) in either vehement opposition or enthusiastic favor of therapy in its remote incarnation. While sensitivity to light can be a trigger for some migraine sufferers, a recent University of Arizona study found that exposure to green light one to two hours a day can reduce the number of headache days per month by an average of 60%. It sounds counterintuitive, but isolated green light from devices such as the Allay lamp, which was developed by Harvard Medical School migraine researchers, has been shown to reduce photophobia, or light sensitivity, by generating certain electrical signals in the eye and brain.
One subject parked firmly in opposition is Kelly McGee, a 29-year-old living in Los Angeles, who, after four years of regular sessions, has cut back to seeing her therapist on a bi-weekly basis: “It began to feel like a scheduling conflict instead of something that’s being worked into my week,” she said. “It’s harder to be vulnerable when there’s this performative aspect of being on camera.” Julia Crockett, a 34-year-old movement specialist in New York, has also reduced her number of sessions. She was blunt about her distaste, but wary of quitting altogether without an alternative: “I hate it,” she said of her Zoom therapy. “But also, the world may be ending? So, I’m like…I guess I should still go.”
It isn’t just the discomfort of being on camera that people don’t like. Mina Naderpoor, a 26-year-old L.A. resident who has been in somatic and cognitive therapy for a decade, explained to me that as someone who deals with issues like body dysmorphia, sharing a physical space with her therapist is very important: “When you’re on Zoom, they can’t see your physiological responses to things. Like, if my hand shakes in response to something,” she said. “It’s hard to be validated virtually because they can’t see my physical being. I’m a floating head.” Not to mention the fact that not everyone has a space they can carve out for themselves. Naderpoor has roommates, and has had trouble finding an environment that feels private or safe once a week.
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