Good work-life balance can be hard for any professional to attain, but it becomes particularly challenging when you’re an expat. Moving to a new country and immersing yourself in a new culture seems like a fantastic opportunity at first. It usually comes with an attractive salary package and all the exciting allure associated with the expat life. You want to open up to new experiences, to live life to the fullest.
Unfortunately, once the initial thrill fades off, many expats realize that trading familiarity and comfort for the unknown comes with some challenges. They feel lonely and disconnected. They’re homesick and start to wonder if they made the right choice.
These feelings are very common, yet most people feel like no one around them could understand what they’re going through. They don’t want to talk about these things with the locals because they don’t want to offend them. At the same time, there’s this pressure in the expat community to be strong, self-reliant and put all your efforts into becoming well-integrated. Even if most expats are struggling just like you, it often seems like they have it all together and you’re the exception.
By now, most people are familiar with the benefits of traditional face-to-face therapy, and they know what the process entails. As an expat, you may have considered seeing a therapist, but you’ve had trouble finding one you can really speak freely with because of language and cultural barriers. This is where online therapy comes in.
Research shows that online therapy is just as effective as traditional therapy. It follows the same principles and the mental health professionals providing it require the same amount of training. The only difference is that you’ll be communicating with them via video calls, audio calls, text chat or a combination of all three.
Although this form of therapy has become incredibly popular after the coronavirus pandemic and subsequent lockdown, it has been widely available for many years. In fact, mental health hotlines have been widely available as early as the 60s.
The most obvious advantage of online therapy for expats is that you can easily find a therapist that speaks your native language and understand your culture regardless of where you are located. For example, if you’re from the UK and you’re currently living and working in Italy, you might be able to find a therapist that can speak English fluently, but there will be cultural nuances you’ll have to explain. With online therapy, you can find a therapist you can more easily form a bond with because they understand all these things.
The second biggest advantage is convenience. Most expats are very career-oriented, so they work long hours and have very busy schedules. Online therapy gives you more options so you can find a therapist that can suit your schedule. Furthermore, since you don’t have to commute to the therapist’s office, you can fit your sessions before work, during lunch, after work or on the weekends – whenever you need. You’ll also be able to schedule emergency sessions more quickly, and you can maintain more frequent contact because you can combine different methods of online communication.