The Student News Site of Monta Vista High School

El Estoque

The Student News Site of Monta Vista High School

El Estoque

The Student News Site of Monta Vista High School

El Estoque

Which way to wellness?

Exploring how online self-help resources compare to in-person resources

When she was just 16 years old, school-based therapist Akiko Chung immigrated to the U.S. by herself. Chung recalls that due to her limited English proficiency, she had to rely heavily on her school counselors and friends to support her emotionally, making her realize the importance of having a good support system. Nearly 20 years later, Chung tries to replicate the support that she had received when she initially moved to the U.S. by building a support system for students, hoping that once they leave her therapy sessions, they can be independent and utilize various resources.

During the COVID-19 lockdown, Chung held all of her sessions online, which caused her to realize the huge differences between conducting online sessions compared to in-person.

“In each session, I’m paying attention to very subtle body language,” Chung said. “So for me, in-person therapy gave me much more information as a therapist to navigate the [type of] treatment.”

In each session, I’m paying attention to very subtle body language. So for me, in-person therapy gave me much more information as a therapist to navigate the [type of] treatment.

— Akiko Chung

Holding online therapy sessions not only limited Chung’s ability to read body language but also created unique circumstances, such as clients leaving mid-session as well as not having a set environment, which could put the confidentiality of their sessions in jeopardy. Chung believes that online therapy creates a divide between a client and their therapist, hindering the overall effectiveness of their session. 

Senior Pratha Joshi echoes Chung’s sentiment about there being a barrier during online therapy — a blockade she sees in the form of a computer screen. Joshi believes that the screen serves as a cover for some clients to hide under when they need to be pushed out of their comfort zone. However, she also believes that online sessions allow clients to be more comfortable, providing them the option to have their session whenever and wherever they feel at ease. 

“With online therapy, you have the comfort of your own house [and] your own bed,” Joshi said. “[During my online sessions], I was always on my bed eating ice cream or doing anything that would make me comfortable.”  

For Joshi, she chose to attend therapy at the end of her junior year. Because she had the most amount of work during this period of time, she leaned toward online therapy because it was the most convenient for her. 

“I genuinely didn’t have the time to drive [to therapy] and a lot of my symptoms made it so that I didn’t have the energy to go anywhere,” Joshi said. “But I think I would prefer to try out in-person therapy as well and then figure out which one suits me more because, with therapy, you need to look through different therapists before you actually find one that you’re comfortable with.”

Junior Dylan Canoglu has not used many self-help resources himself but has similar beliefs to Joshi. Even though Canoglu believes in-person resources are more trustworthy, he would prefer to use online resources because he believes that in-person resources require more effort. 

Joshi takes a slightly more neutral stance, believing that it is truly dependent on the individual to determine whether online sessions or in-person therapy is more suitable for them. She believes that each has its pros and cons, and it is up to each person to decide for themselves which suits them more. 

“I think online resources have definitely developed and they’ve become something [that] we can depend on,” Joshi said. “In-person therapy sessions are often really hard to get, so online therapy sessions are easier to find a lot of the time.” 

Although Canoglu has never utilized therapy, he agrees with Joshi, believing that online self-help resources allow a wider group of people access to more resources. Since these resources are much easier to access, he believes that more people will be inclined to actually make use of them. While Chung agrees with this, she also agrees with Joshi’s point that it depends on the person to choose whatever is best for them. She believes that some self-help resources require the correct state of mind to be used effectively.

“I think that self-help books become helpful when you are already self-reflective,” Chung said. “[With] the emotional capacity cusp, if [a student is] already stressed out and I asked them to read, it’s not going to be useful. So, I don’t recommend self-help books [to my clients] unless they have already expressed that they’ll be receptive to it.” 

Similarly, Joshi believes that the usefulness of self-help books depends on each individual, rather than the content of each book itself. These books, alongside other forms of self-help practices such as meditation and journaling, are only applicable to a small group of people who are already heavily invested in self-improvement. For individuals who are just starting out on their self-help journey, Joshi believes that these practices would be less meaningful, and should instead choose more in-person strategies for the best benefits.

“We should never go fully online, no matter how attractive the idea is because of how easy it would be,” Joshi said. “I think there’s so much value in in-person therapy and in-person connections, [and] you just can’t get that online no matter how developed the platform is or how good the therapist is.” 

About the Contributors
Ethan Kellogg
Ethan is currently a Junior and staff writer for El Estoque. He enjoys playing the trombone and playing video games. He is also a webmaster for the Model UN club.
Stephanie Zhang
Stephanie Zhang, Staff Writer
Stephanie is currently a junior. In her free time, she enjoys listening to her many playlists, binge-watching entire shows at once and spending time with her friends and family.
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