Gary Conkling Life Notes

Mostly whimsical reflections on life

Curing Anxiety on Your Own Couch

Anxiety-sufferers no longer have to feel the added anxiety of going “on the couch.” Now they can get help on their own couch.

Dysfunctional on the couchAn online service called Joyable offers cognitive behavioral therapy to people afraid to talk to their boss, but more afraid of talking to a therapist. Instead of talk-therapy and anti-depressants, the site provides tips on how to reduce social stress.

Joyable was launched by Peter Shalek, an entrepreneur who wanted to be a psychologist, but wound up starting a laundry delivery service instead. After stints as a financial analyst and Stanford Business School student, Shalek worked with psychologists from the university to create Joyable.

Anxiety is no laughing matter, but will online therapy really help? Shalek says it will.

He doesn’t necessarily claim online therapy is better than in-person talk-therapy. Both can coexist and thrive because as many as 25 percent or more the population suffer from anxiety or depression, he says. More to the point, a big majority of those with anxiety disorders never seek professional treatment, but may be willing to give it a try on Joyable for $99 per month – or the discounted rate of $239 for three months.

Robinson Meyer, writing for, says clinical psychologists aren’t up in arms about Joyable. They agree that some treatment, even if only online, is better than no treatment.

This realization of the potency of online treatments, whether for mental or physical ailments, seems like a seminal shift that has gone largely unacknowledged. Sure, younger people have grown up with computers and are at ease on mobile devices, so online services seem second nature to them. But older adults, especially ones suffering from chronic diseases, have found online interactions with their doctors and with nurse practitioners to be far better  and much cheaper – than repeated hospital admissions.

project_joyable_introYet, counseling someone with diabetes seems quite different than counseling someone with acute anxiety over asking for a raise or a date. Both can be controlled, but the underlying causes of anxiety may not be so transparent. If the anxiety is caused, for example, by constant worries when a spouse is in the military and deployed overseas, the cure may not come from therapy, only from seeing your spouse walk through the front door safe and sound.

If talking can relieve anxiety, then talking online with someone who is trained as a coach and applies evidence-based approaches can be useful. It’s certainly a lot less harmful than being diagnosed incorrectly as clinically depressed and fed antidepressants.

If your couch is good for watching football and taking a nap, there is no reason it can’t be useful as a curing bench, too. If the cure works, you will have a lot more confidence to get up off the couch.


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