In this episode Stephen Hays chats with Clay Cockrell. Clay is a therapist in New York, NY and has gained quite a bit of notoriety for the medium through which he meets his clients. He meets his clients for walks. Clay started Walk and Talk Therapy in NYC after realizing many busy professionals simply don’t have time to transit to therapy sessions.
Clay has been featured on numerous TV shows, and in many publications including Good Morning America, CNN, The Wall Street Journal, The Times of London and the NY Times for his unique approach of walking with his therapy clients instead of meeting in an office.
It is evident from our conversation that Clay is passionate about helping people navigate the complicated world of accessing mental health care. His entire career has been focused on making therapy convenient. He created The Online Counseling Directory – which connects qualified psychotherapists and life coaches with clients all over the world.
Clay is also the host of the podcast “Finding Therapy” where he takes listeners through a step by step process of finding the right therapist and he hosts another podcast called “The Online Counseling Podcast” where he educates therapists on the ethical and effective ways to use technology to connect with clients.
SOME OF THE THINGS WE TALKED ABOUT:
- Clay Cockrell is a therapist in New York City who has always been attracted to stories about humans and how our histories impact us. He built his Walk and Talk Therapy practice in NYC on the idea that clients often are busy, stressed out, and rarely willing to make transit across the city for a therapy meeting in the middle of their busy day.
- Clay was born and raised in Kentucky, and his wife is an actress in New York. Clay noticed his clients had a hard time getting out of the office to come to meetings with him. He wanted a way to make it convenient, so he decided to come to his clients, and host meetings while walking and talking. Clay credits the idea to his wife suggesting that he make meetings more convenient, and she was right!
- Clay noticed that as he walked and talked with clients, that his clients opened up more, and the sessions were more effective. He also meets with his clients remotely online now as well and we talk about the effectiveness of remote therapy via voice, video or text in this episode.
- One observation Clay made during walking meetings is that clients are often uncomfortable sitting on a couch, staring a therapist in the eyes, and revealing their deepest darkest secrets. However, if you get the clients moving, there seems to be more of a willingness to be vulnerable. Maybe this is due to the movement, maybe it’s a more comfortable environment, maybe it’s the eye contact.
- Clay’s clients are primarily men, and we talked at length about men’s mental health broadly. Men are resistant sometimes to talking about emotions. It seems to Clay that men are resistant to sitting down and reflecting. In our society, it hasn’t been considered “masculine” to go to a therapist. However, that is changing, and Clay believes that men are seeing the value of therapy more and more today as stigma decreases.
- Why does this idea of masculinity keep men from getting help? It’s the media, John Wayne imagery, being vulnerable is considered bad. We are complex beings. It’s hard to live with intention and often we find ourselves operating whimsically under the influence of what the media tells us we have to be.
- What makes men willing to come into therapy for the first time? Desperation and pain, Clay explains, for the most part.
- We talk about the value of community in our lives. There are millions of people in NYC but everybody is lonely. Isolation is dangerous and we must proactively fight against it.
- How can technology be leveraged by therapists to help their clients? Clay encourages people to use meditation apps such as Calm and Headspace. He also talks about how many therapists don’t even have a website or know how to market their practice. Teletherapy is also a great tool – while it does change the dynamic, both for good and bad, there are many positive benefits to teletherapy. However, there is a need to focus on using technology ethically and legally when providing care remotely. We must also make sure the client is suitable for online counseling (someone with suicidal ideation, psychosis, etc. may not be suitable for online therapy).
- We talk about the legal rules around therapy and how they impact online counseling. The current laws prevent a therapist from crossing state lines unless they are licensed in the state where the client is located. Originally states wanted to protect patients and the licensing boards need to make money so they require licenses in each state for now. This isn’t an issue outside the United States. Some states are coming together to create reciprocity, but this is an issue that needs to be taken up politically. This needs to be addressed at the federal level.
- Clay built a platform for finding a therapist (both in the U.S. and globally, in any language): OnlineCounseling.com. Clay’s site investigates the therapists and validates them on behalf of the potential clients. They spend a lot of time educating and training therapists on their platform as well.
Clay built a platform for finding a therapist (both in the U.S. and globally, in any
language): OnlineCounseling.com. Clay’s site investigates the therapists and
validates them on behalf of the potential clients. They spend a lot of time educating and
training therapists on their platform as well.