english-speaking therapists barcelona
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Finding an English-speaking therapist in Spain

Finding an English-speaking Therapist in Spain

Australian Registered Psychologist and Director of Therapy in Barcelona, Leigh Matthews, answered some questions about finding therapy in English for The Local Spain
 

It seems that there are quite a few English-speaking therapists in the big cities such as Barcelona and Madrid, but do you know what are the opportunities for people outside of these places? 

 
Having just left a Zoom session with one of my clients who lives out of Barcelona, I’d say, now more than ever, with the meteoric rise of online therapy, individuals outside of Barcelona and Madrid have access to English-speaking therapists online. That doesn’t mean that there are not opportunities for therapists outside of the larger cities.
 
Even if foreign residents speak some Spanish, why is it important to find an English-speaking therapist to help?
 
Finding a therapist who speaks the language in which you can easily access and express experiences and feelings, and be understood, is critical as authentic communication is the heart of therapy. One study found that therapy is twice as effective in clients’ native language. At Therapy in Barcelona, we offer services in English, which all of our therapists speak, in addition to the languages of the therapists’ native countries such as Afrikaans, Arabic, Dutch, German, Finnish, French, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish, Gujurati and Urdu. Moreover, it is so important to work with an expat therapist who appreciates the nuanced costs and benefits of expat life.
 
Do you offer online therapy and do you believe that this is just as effective as face-to-face or not? 
 
Yes, our team offers online therapy and it has a place for clients who are unable to make it to an office due to distance or other limitations. Research suggests it is as effective as face-to-face therapy but, humans are wired for connection and part of this wiring involves how we regulate each other via mirror neurons through physical presence. Online therapy robs us of that physical connection and the critical information we take from body language. In fact, while many are sold on online therapy’s convenience, around 80% of our clients still request face-to-face therapy. I think that speaks volumes about humans craving connection in real life. Face-to-face therapy is here to stay. Face-to-face therapy is to online therapy what vinyl is to digital music; it will always retain a special quality that is unsurpassable. That’s a relief because therapy is being colonised by online therapy platforms founded by tech entrepreneurs and the tech industry’s loose ethics are incompatible with our profession where confidentiality is key. In general, therapy with a team like Therapy in Barcelona is safer than online therapy. We won’t let third parties mine our client data, our ethical codes forbid it!
 
What are some of the common issues that foreign residents in Spain come to you with? 
 
As well as individuals wishing to explore a career change, personal development and maximising wellbeing, we see many people wrestling with general life issues that they would in any context and issues such as:
 

Depression

Anxiety

Culture shock

Language barriers

Trouble making friends

Ageing parents in passport country

Homesickness

Being single and finding the expat lifestyle makes relationships challenging

Relationship issues

Parenting without a village

Adjustment to work and culture

Absence of professional and social networks

The Challenges of intercultural relationships

Loneliness 

Existential issues – like identity and belonging

 

Have you noticed an increase in patients during the pandemic? 

 
Initially, no. In lockdown people were on the lower rungs of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, trying to meet their most basic needs for psychological safety. While people were attempting to maintain routine and ‘survive’ under the exceptional and frightening circumstances, they were not in a space to delve through their concerns. Beyond those first few months in 2021, yes, we have seen an increase in clients. The pandemic has brought a level of uncertainty to the fore for people, and, with the incapacity to return ‘home’ to visit friends and family as many expats do, this has magnified a sense of dislocation and homesickness. The pandemic has been a big pause on our ability to travel and the impulse to move, leaving us to face the concerns we may have been avoiding through frequent travel. For many people who had been considering seeing a therapist over the years, the pandemic has been the catalyst to finally take that step, for the better!
 
What type of mental health issues have you seen a rise in during the pandemic?
 
Anxiety and depression in adults, but also adolescents who have really lost a lot in the pandemic. Couples experiencing conflict and determining if there is a future together as a result of this unusual period of confinement. Grief and uncertainty and general feelings of overwhelm. 
 
Do you have any tips or tricks to share that people can do at home if they’re feeling more anxious than normal, especially as things are all opening up now and masks are no longer required on the street? 
 
Even though this is good news, many may be feeling apprehension about things opening up and masks coming off as it is change and change is stressful. We have been under the tyranny of constant change and uncertainty since the onset of the pandemic in March 2020. Many are fatigued from adapting to the cascade of challenges like remote working, homeschooling, confinements, covid scares and tests, social distancing and wearing masks. Uncertainty and change provoke anxiety and depression so it is important to focus on what you can control including self-care, reducing media consumption, keeping a routine and attending to the pillars of mental health such as sleep, nutrition, exercise and, connection with others. Take your time adjusting to the changes, go at your own rhythm in terms of removing the mask, returning to work, socialising and travel. You can give yourself permission to slowly ease yourself back into life without restrictions, there’s no need to go at other’s pace. If you feel the ongoing challenges are getting you down, consider reaching out for support from a therapist. It can bring a lot of relief to reach out and have your concerns heard in a confidential space with a professional who can also offer you strategies for coping.
 
 
What type of therapy do you offer? 
 

Therapy in Barcelona has been supporting Barcelona’s internationals since 2011. We are an international team of expat therapists who work with adults, couples, kids, teens, families and companies. Each therapist has a different specialist background so there are many types of therapy offered such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, Solution Focused Therapy, Art therapy, Psychoanalytic, Existential, Transactional Analysis, Positive Psychology, Mindfulness and other approaches.

The range of therapists and approaches helps us to find the therapist with the right fit for clients’ concerns and goals, and they can easily change therapists if they are not feeling the fit.

 [email protected] +34644522369 https://www.therapyinbarcelona.com