A few weeks ago, I got up at 9 AM like every day to have coffee and prepare for my working day. Then I went back to bed half an hour later and didn’t get up again for a whole week.
This happens from time to time. It always catches me off guard, usually when God wants to reenact the Ice Age in Berlin, a fact that really shouldn’t catch me off guard anymore, but I guess am resistant to enlightenment. I call it The Winter and as a matter of fact, I know that many people suffer from the same disturbing symptoms after a Berghain binge. That awkward moment when you return after a 3 day rave from Berghain and feel like checking into a mental ward. Psychological therapy in Berlin should be offered for everyone when they check their coat to enter the weekend.
I know that mental health problems are a real thing, and thankfully, it’s not a taboo anymore to get treatment. In a post-SATC world, it seems almost like… a requirement to finalize the status of “urban resident”. But who goes to see their family doctor because they were tripping too hard on Keta? Or because they still haven’t gotten over their ex of 3 years (who is absolutely and most definitely “the one who got away”)? Or just because they are, for no conscious reason, pumped with anxiety and nervousness? Thankfully, Tina Steckling is proposing a cure: personal crisis management and psychological therapy in Berlin without the bureaucracy, the official visits, the planning or commitment: Soulmates Berlin. [English website]
Psychological Therapy in Berlin with Soulmates
Tina has spent several years treating patients with acute medical/psychological conditions in institutionalized establishments (like hospitals), but realized that there was still a big gap between an elaborate psychological therapy that needs a lot of time to prepare for and commit to, and the clinical disorders that need stationary treatment.
“What about the people who just need someone to talk to? Someone who’s objectively listening, and someone who can try to find a solution right then and there without going over hurdles such as health insurance policies or waiting for appointments. We can discuss every acute issue at hand immediately by phone or by chat or in person of course, and then we can work from there and see what needs to be done.”
Alright. I am not above using the holy Berghain name and of course, I want to know if many people call Tina up because of being hungover or stuck on Suicide Tuesdays. Is Berlin special when it comes to spontaneous mental issues?
“It does happen, but even in Berlin, the problems that people have are relatively normal”, she says. “Most of them are about romantic relationships; break-ups, of course, and losses and grief.” And she clarifies: “Sometimes you continuously feel bad because of something specific, and that doesn’t always mean you need therapy. You may just need some guidance”.
At this point, I’m a little disappointed. I thought Berlins collective mental issues were more exciting than that. You know, with the dramatic “poor but sexy” story arc the media has been vomiting onto us the past few years, you’d think that someone like Tina encounters more… urban problems, let’s say. Every other day, zines like Dazed publish photo series or anecdotes about Berlins wild and destructive nightlife, and the leisurely time everybody seems spend. I don’t mean to offend anyone, but even in literal goddamn Berlin, most people are working during the day, and bless those who don’t! They tend to leave and write articles like this.
Tina, who has an academic degree in art therapy, laughs, and says that there are some big city problems indeed, but they exist in most metropoles. Hedonism, raving, addiction, and growing out of adolescence in a highly competitive environment – of course those situations differ to the challenges pertinent in small towns.
“You know, we’ve got Tinder now – and many people have been dating in these new and fast ways for a while, thinking they’ve got it all under control, until they realize something is missing or that they can’t find love. And there’s the LGBT community, which may have set new standards for tolerance and freedom to the outside, but at the end of the day, a community is a community: there are certain sets of rules, and you have to adhere to the standards and norms of it. If you can’t perform what is expected of you, sexually or socially, you start suffering from the pressure to achieve”.
So – just like in workplace situations, but with more latex and BDSM?
“Right – in a way, a ‘scene’ can make you feel at home, but still be as alienating as a very competitive working environment, for example. It all comes down to self-worth and self-confidence, and finding your place in your preferred social habitat. I’ve spent many years in Berlin. It helps to know the in-and-outs of the city, and the different social networks (whether they are online or offline), in order to understand the various shades of relationship and identity problems. But of course, every person is individual, and in my profession it’s important to treat everyone according to their individual perceptions and feelings, regardless of how many others share the same conflicts.”
Soulmates For Everyone
I’m intrigued. How many times have I sat there in my room, binge-watching and binge-eating bullshit, because I couldn’t get out of a bad feeling? How many times did I think that maybe I just needed someone to snap me out of it – without judging? How many times did I have specific problems and wanted to go back and forth on them, but didn’t dare bothering my friends about them anymore? Yeah, I tend to pull myself up again, even after hardships. But I also know that sometimes it took me really long, and I have missed important opportunities to deal with my inner self (because that’s obviously Pandoras Box and if there’s one thing I can’t deal with then it’s my inner self, dat nagging bish). I’m German, I speak the language, and yet I’ve not considered a psychological therapy in Berlin as it always seemed “too much” for my situation.
“Soulmates is not just about personal crisis management. It’s also about finding out where you are mentally. In this day and age, insecurities in every part of life are abundant. Some people just need to sort things out to get back on track; others need longer assistance. And some people just need to know that they are okay doing what they’re doing. They may just need reassurance, a little bit of feedback.”
In that way, Tina is not just a therapist: she’s also a bit of a social node.
“I offer my consultation in English, too, because that’s another problem for people who need to talk to someone: the bureaucracy of German authorities. When you’re already challenged with bouts of depression, loneliness or sadness, or when your issues don’t warrant an entry in your medical record, you really don’t want to deal with signing up for the right therapist and waiting for an appointment. And even if you get an appointment, you still need to find a therapist that is willing to treat you in your preferred language.” Tina also has a network of freelancing colleagues to recommend if the treatment is to be held in Dutch, German or English.
Medical record, by the way, is another thing to consider when it comes to mental issues. Not many people have ever thought about their medical record in Germany, because usually our prior conditions don’t change anything about the guaranteed treatment. But that changes when it comes to other insurances. Hardly anybody will cover your disability insurances if you have a medical record of mental disorders or treatments, regardless of the severity. Too risky. Insurances hate paying out.
SOS: Therapy light
Tina acknowledges that the established system of mental healthcare in Germany is great, but that sometimes you don’t need to check yourself into the mental ward in a crisis; in fact, this can make things seem way out of control when they aren’t. “Some people wait too long with their struggles, because it takes a lot to admit to yourself that you’re not doing well, and that you have to talk to someone or do something about it. And then you find yourself in a psychological ward and it feels much worse than it is. But where else would you go?”
She founded Soulmates last year to fill the void in the system. Of course, there’s a “catch”: unlike the medical psychological support and therapy methods, her therapy is not covered by the national health insurance. Meaning: you have to pay out of your own pocket for every session.
I know I’m personally very reluctant to pay anything out of my own pocket for my medical well-being, but I’ve also come to realize (usually when I try to get treatment for my tense back muscles) that the official practice usually aren’t satisfactory. We take health care for granted, but we are often shorted. I know I’m not only speaking for myself when I say: I’d rather not go to the doctors, because it’s too much of a hassle most of the time. And yet I’d also rather not pay for something that I’m entitled to by law, even if the service is crap. It’s like airplane food: I’m going to gorge myself on it because it kind of feels as if it’s for free AND I NEVER SAY NO TO FREE THINGS, but I also know that I paid for it, so I’m doubling on my entitlement here. Even if it tastes like cardboard stew with chalk flour breadsticks.
Soulmates offers individual support for one time sessions as well as ongoing assistance, coaching and therapy in Berlin. It’s basically the “light” version of a therapy, fully qualified.
You can get in touch via chat, phone or in person, and Tina will meet you in her casual office in Neukölln, or take a walk with you if you prefer, to discuss options and what kind of help she can offer you. A session costs between 60€ and 80€.
I actually toyed with the idea of starting a creative therapy because Tina mentioned that this is a good method for people who overthink stuff, and who are very pragmatic, but who are also really out of touch with their emotions. And of course I like to think that I’m super-rational. And creative therapy makes it hard to hide behind smart-ass justifications and rationalizations, so hey, why not discover something about my inner demons? But then I remembered how I cried last night because I ran out of Ritter Sport, and I continued crying because I realized I was getting fatter because I keep running out of Ritter Sport and then I cried again because I’m almost done watching every episode of The Good Wife in a world record of 2 consecutive weeks soooooo I guess I’m fully in touch with my emotions.