Practicing Emotional Regulation Online

Out of loneliness, I joined SupportGroups.com, a forum for all kinds of mental and emotional health issues, offered as a free service by a company that is focused on mental health and addiction treatment. More than appease my loneliness, I found people who needed help in the moment. I began offering my help to people online using emotional regulation.

But what is emotional regulation? Most, if not all of the forum users have no idea what it is. In response to someone’s post about his recent emotional struggle, I wrote this:

Yesterday, I started to feel anxious on the street. This is what I did, and you can do this too: Found a place to lean against (or [you can] sit, anywhere that is safe), I closed my eyes and looked for the physical sensations in my body. They can be anything. Yesterday I felt dizziness, nausea, and my breathing was not normal. I paid attention to these sensations without trying to do anything with them, including breathing. I noticed other sensations like pressure on my chest and mouth and feeling like i was being pulled down. Then I kept observing the sensations as they changed keeping my eyes closed until I felt calm. The dizziness slowed down, and other sensations moved, like the pressure on my chest went to my left clavicle and the [sic] went away. This is emotional regulation, or some call it sensory regulation. You can do it whenever you don’t feel well, except in the middle of a trauma or if the emotion is too strong, like the peak of a panic attack. I was on the sidewalk, and fortunately nobody stopped to ask me if something was wrong. lol.

A few people responded to this asking questions. Two people accepted my help. We used Facebook Messenger and I helped them regulate their uncomfortable emotions over video chat. Both of them are now doing well with no more uncontrolled reactions to the triggers we worked on.

I did this work for free mostly because hardly anyone knows what emotional regulation is, and I don’t have a website to market my skill. I don’t really want to build another website, but would rather help people who can pay me through their medical insurance. This would take an additional three years to do, though. But what helping people over video chat demonstrated was that I can help people over the Internet and don’t need to be tied down to one location. I can be like Michael Phelps and offer remote counseling.

Becoming a professional counselor will take time. I chose Antioch University’s online Clinical Mental Health Counseling program over other programs, including social worker programs, for its varied curriculum and focus on clinical education. It’s a three-year program, but the tuition is more affordable than other reputable programs, and the classes offered, more attractive. There is a tract specifically on trauma. I’m also more drawn to the jobs that are available with Licensed Mental Health Professional certification. Though there are more jobs available for licensed social workers, I would rather help people in prison than the general public. Besides, I don’t want to look for a job. Hopefully, I can find my patients in other ways and open a private practice.

Doing what your heart desires is not always easy. My heart desires the flexibility to travel wherever and whenever, the possibility of taking advantage of the open market and employing innovation, and the ability to help others without being constrained by someone else’s rules. I guess I’ll start building that website. Carpe diem.