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Today anybody facing nearly any life challenge can do the same thing—go online and within a day, an hour, or even minutes find that particularly helpful special report, audio recording, or book, and have it delivered instantly to their e-mail inbox. They can be reading or listening to solutions in the time it would have taken them to leave a message for a therapist. This means that therapists are competing with a flood of authors, coaches, lecturers, and other experts (and with enterprising quacks), all of whom offer various forms of self-help.
Another social transformation of our era is the almost universal time crunch; none of us ever has nearly enough of it. Taking a couple of hours from a busy day to go to a therapist for a personal session feels to many like a grossly inefficient use of time. It's much more convenient to hire a life coach or relationship coach, open to spur-of-the-moment telephone and electronic "sessions."
What to Do?
Some psychotherapists, seeing the writing on the wall, are responding by updating how they do one-to-one therapy to bring themselves more in line with what people want. They're adding e-therapy, web chats, text or e-mail consultations. They're offering phone sessions in hour-long and abbreviated formats—15-minute "laser" sessions, for example, to help clients get back on track after a disturbing interaction at home or at work.
The problem with these solutions is the method of delivery. While meeting the need to be more flexible, it still means that therapists can provide service to relatively few people at a time, which still limits their income and intensifies the struggle to get more clients in the door.
We need to get off the one-person-for-one-hour-for-one-fee track and think more broadly about what we can offer the world and how to communicate it to as many people as possible. We need to share our wisdom and knowledge in ways that serve the community while leveraging our time and energy. We need to devise a model that supports us when the economy is booming and doesn't desert us when the economy is tanking.