The On-Demand Culture and Therapy

by Judy Koven, WTRS Coordinator

We in Seattle live in a busy city, with its strong economy, burgeoning population, changing demographic, and the many challenges these bring. The corporate technology culture that’s become predominant in central Puget Sound exerts a powerful influence on our sensibility, values, and priorities. I call it the “on-demand culture”.

Want to buy something? Order it from Amazon Prime and it shows up in a few hours. Hungry? Find something that looks good on your restaurant app and a delivery person is at your door with an insulated bag, dinner at the ready. Need to get somewhere quickly? Get on your smart phone and Lyft will be there.

As someone who educates and matches clients looking for a therapist, I often see the ripple effect from this on-demand worldview. People now come to the search for a therapist with similar expectations, foregrounding convenience and immediate results. These are understandable requests but not necessarily realistic, nor are they reliable determinants for successful therapy.

Therapy entails a different mindset. Research has repeatedly shown that a good match in a therapist is essential for a positive outcome. When we’re in distress, it’s understandable that we want relief now, and it takes courage to reach out for assistance. But convenience doesn’t guarantee productive and successful therapist-client collaboration over time.

An on-demand culture may work efficiently for meeting practical needs but doesn’t translate well for our deeper well being. In fact, it is a significant source of stress. Therapy provides an opportunity to slow down, reflect, and create new ways of understanding and interacting with the self and the world. The result is deeper, more lasting transformation.

Tidying up

Those of us who’ve read Marie Kondo’s book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing, were perhaps both amused and inspired by her ideas on organizing our “stuff” and surrounding ourselves with only the things that bring us joy. Now, a local money coach, Mikelann Valterra, springboards on Kondo’s theme to write about how to manage our parallel financial clutter, address the stress it causes, and simplify our lives.

It’s a nice followup to this month’s interview with Jan Bucy, MA LMHC.

Life at Amazon

by Judy Koven

Last weekend’s New York Times article on the demanding workplace culture at Amazon has sparked intense discussion across digital and traditional media. As someone who helps people looking for therapy, I’ve heard many stories from stressed-out Amazon employees struggling to fit into what they experience as a hyper-competitive, sometimes aggressive environment and keep some semblance of balance to their lives. Whether you’re a satisfied Amazon customer, hate the company’s giant footprint on Seattle, or fall somewhere in between, the article raises important questions about what it means to work in our new economy, how we live our values and envision our community, and how well we’re able to sustain a balanced quality of life.

Though many who’ve worked at Amazon have had a negative experience, others have more positive opinions about their employer. Click here to see some of the feedback the Times received about the article.