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Psychotherapy in English: The DIY way

Need help fast and in a language you understand? Sick and tired of dealing with health insurance bureaucracy to find a therapist? Don’t let the stress exacerbate your shaky condition. There are other ways!

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Image: Martin N. Hinze
Need help fast and in a language you understand? Sick and tired of dealing with health insurance bureaucracy to find a therapist? Don’t let the stress exacerbate your shaky condition. There are other ways! From the comfort of your own couch Unsure whether it’s all in your head? How about a mental health consultation without leaving your own four walls? According to Moodpath inventor Mark Goering, “whether it’s due to social stigma, fatigue or a sense of fatalism, 50 percent of people that are clinically affected never seek any kind of help”. Moodpath makes overcoming those barriers easier than ever. Download the app on your phone, answer three blocks of questions about your mood a day, and receive a doctor’s report about your mental condition within two weeks. Crucially, the first diagnostic report with the app is free – potentially saving the cost of an initial consultation. If you’re not sure whether you’re sad because your cat died or you have clinical depression, it can help you spot the difference. In addition to behavioral diagnostics, Moodpath looks at external factors, such as diet, sleep and alcohol use, to see if a few lifestyle adjustments could make a difference. The premium version of the app (€5-€10 a month, based on a subscription plan) offers courses on improving sleeping patterns and understanding your emotions. After 14 days, the app will tell whether there is any indication of a depressive episode. An automatically generated referral letter to a therapist will list symptoms and a preliminary diagnosis in German. So you might find yourself back at square one. Time to find a therapist. Boutique therapy Contacting therapists individually can be a protracted, soul-crushing process. Especially if you don’t know what you are looking for. That’s where Stillpoint Spaces in Hobrechtstraße, Neukölln comes in, a mix between counseling space, psychology library and idea lab (workshops, art classes and reading groups). Founded in Zurich in 2012 by Jungian analysts Stephen Setterberg, Evangelos Tsempelis and Jakob Lusensky, the concept has spread to Berlin (2014), London and Paris (2017). If you’re unsure whether to start individual therapy, head to a lecture (€5-€15) or a workshop (up to €50). According to Maša Božovic, the Berlin lab coordinator, these lab events offer a “window” for you to get informed and build up the confidence to contact one of their therapists. Stillpoint’s preference lies towards analytical and depth-therapy, with a waiting time of around one week. Whether on-site therapy or remote, encrypted online sessions, Stillpoint emphasises the freedom for counselor and patient. A session is around €80-€85 and some counselors offer flexible pricing and help you contact your insurance company. Therapy is also available in five additional languages, including Hungarian, Polish and Portuguese. Similarly, Mittelweg 50, founded in 2017 by Stillpoint dissidents Johanne Schwensen and Jakob Lusensky (they say the former was too business-oriented), works as a Praxisgemeinschaft (shared practice). Approaches wary from cognitive behavioral therapy to narrative therapy and analysis comes with a flexibility to freely choose and switch your therapist. With over 10 English-speaking professionals currently working in over eight languages, including Spanish, Finnish and Serbian, Mittelweg offers a first-time consultation within a week for an average fee of about €85 (case by case discounts possible). Too expensive or too solitary? We’ve got one last option for you. Acting out You’re not a big talker? Act out! Psychodrama believes in the power of reenacting difficult situations – or dreams – from your life in a group setting. Invented by Romanian Jacob Levy Moreno, it assumes that we use a limited number of roles in our daily life. So, in order to break out, you get on stage and, with the help of your co-players and the supervision of a psychodrama therapist, relive and reframe experiences in a positive way. “Each truly lived second time liberates from the fi rst experience,” says Gabriele Stiegler, managing director of the Psychodramaforum in Berlin-Charlottenburg, the only one of its kind in Berlin. Group work might seem intimidating but according to Stiegler, it can help avoid the “blind spots” of individual therapy. Moreover, acting out problems in a playful, participatory setting can be easier than putting them into words, which is why she sees psychodrama as especially valuable for victims of sexual abuse and torture. Non-judgmental feedback from the group afterwards creates a bond, as members of the audience recognise similar feelings in themselves. First timers pay €5, so you might as well give it a shot. Individual scenes vary from 30 to 90 minutes and it’s up to you whether you want to be the main act and how you set up your play. An intensive group might meet six times in a row every two weeks for three hours, for €60 a session. While the Psychodramaforum mainly operates in German, Stiegler doesn’t put too much emphasis on language, as information is mostly transmitted non-verbally. You can even speak in your mother tongue!