The Scoop: Some people can’t visit a therapist to work through life’s challenges, whether it’s due to geographic location, financial limitations, or personal preferences. Real is an online platform that offers mental health resources and easy ways to solve everyday issues, including those related to anxiety and identity. The platform has dedicated therapists who can help singles and couples work through their relationship concerns.

Singles and couples may not seek mental health services for a variety of reasons.

Some live in rural communities where therapy is unavailable because their small town doesn’t have a psychologist.

Others simply can’t afford it, as one-on-one sessions can cost anywhere from $60 to $120 per hour, on average, with most Americans paying between $20 to $50 per session, on average, depending on the number of sessions and whether they’re covered by health insurance. In New York City, sessions can cost $250 to $400 a week. That may price some people out of therapy unless they have comprehensive insurance.

Then, there are those who don’t feel comfortable going to therapy and would rather do the work in other forms beyond individual or group sessions — and not necessarily in person.

Real is an online therapy platform designed to eliminate those barriers and provide more people with the help they need.

The Real logo

Real aims to expand access to mental health resources through virtual options.

Real is different from other forms of therapy and has an affordable monthly price with no added costs, tiers, or features. It offers on-demand therapy Pathways, live events, and roundtable groups that give users the flexibility to improve in certain areas to make their lives and relationships stronger and healthier.

Real Head of Therapy Rachel Hoffman is an expert on relationships and dating and said she uses her experience to help people grow. She works alongside therapists who specialize in family systems, identity, and career goals.

“Real appealed to me with its accessibility and the community. And I loved the idea of reshaping the look of therapy as a field. Let’s work together to reinvent a system to make it better,” she said.

Some online platforms and apps connect clients with a network of therapists around the world through video chat. Therapists who work at Real are all part of its in-house team. And each one brings a different specialty, diversity, and background to the company, so they can holistically address the most pressing concerns individuals and couples face in the modern world.

Head of Therapy Focuses on Dating and Relationships

Rachel started working at a private practice in Long Island that focused on sex therapy, treating sexual dysfunctions, and intimacy issues after earning her master’s degree in social work. She became especially interested in how sexuality and relationships are influenced by cancer treatment after working with so many patients.

During that time, she started helping her father, an oncologist, teach classes about sexuality in relation to cancer. She worked with couples struggling on many fronts and who needed support to strengthen their mental health during the challenging time.

Photo of Real Head of Therapy Rachel Hoffman

Real Head of Therapy Rachel Hoffman spoke with us about how its services can help couples.

Then, she shifted her career to working at a group practice that catered to professional athletes who were struggling in their relationships. Her clients frequently traveled for games, and they were also paying exorbitant fees.

Rachel said she started to realize that the methods therapists use to address mental health concerns weren’t working for most people. Since she valued socializing, working, and collaborating with a team, she also craved a less isolated work environment. During that time, she earned her Ph.D. in human sexuality. That’s when she joined Real.

Real incorporates proven therapy strategies into a platform that serves people at all levels.

“Whether you’ve been in therapy for years, scared of it, or at your lowest point, Real offers a system for you. We’re creating help for everyone, regardless of your phase of treatment,” Rachel said.

A Flexible Concept for All

A Real membership costs $28 or $34 a month, depending on whether a client pays monthly or for the entire year upfront. There are no upcharges, premium tiers, or add-ons to purchase. Instead, members have the freedom to experiment and find a program that works best for them.

One popular option is Real’s on-demand therapy Pathways feature. Members can choose from a variety of eight-week courses that include goal-setting in a structure that works to help them meet those goals. They listen to audio files or videos on a range of topics like “Owning Your Dating Life” to dive deep into issues.

In that course, members set goals for upgrading their relationships, whether it be through communication styles or other habits. In each session, the group is given a journal topic and something to practice, so the experience is solution-focused, rather than just dredging up the past.

Screenshots of the Real app

The Real app provides participants with an intuitive path to success.

That structure can be a relief, especially if the participant doesn’t know exactly where to start.

“You’ll know how to apply what you learn. For example, I will guide you on how to bring a topic up with your partner to ease your anxiety about it,” Rachel said.

Another Pathway the team facilitates is a sexuality Pathway that encourages participants to write a letter to their sexuality as part of their journaling exercises. Rachel said she’s often surprised by how the process can bring forth some discomforts that people have on certain issues, including self-touch, sexual experiences, and learning how to identify themselves sexually.

Real: Groups Can Alleviate Isolation and Loneliness

Rachel said she especially appreciates that she receives feedback from the people who benefit from her work at Real. During traditional therapy sessions, it’s rare for a therapist to ask their client for feedback on ways to improve. Yet, that’s what Real team members do consistently.

“Before joining the company, I couldn’t imagine that was possible within this field,” Rachel said. “We are constantly challenged to make something better and improve the experience.”

Screenshot of Real evaluation

Couples receive a personalized mental health score as they move through their Real journey.

Real also offers live online events, during which the therapists address a variety of topics, including cultivating meaningful friendships, OCD behaviors, and insomnia.

Then, it conducts Roundtables, which are spaces for members to connect around a shared identity, including the Black community, LGBTQ+ community, new parents, struggling couples, or singles who notice everyone around them getting married and having children.

Recently, Rachel said she facilitated a Roundtable on being single and isolated during the coronavirus pandemic. The participants shared how dating was already hard enough. Many said they felt behind in their relationship timeline because of COVID-19. The Roundtable event allowed them to come together and share their feelings in a way that didn’t feel intimidating or embarrassing.

“We hear a lot of unease about what the world will look like after COVID-19 and how to go back into the real world and be social. There is a lot of anxiety around that,” Rachel said. “It’s really hard for some people to dive into the past and take a look at what their accountability was in their relationships and experience. Everything is a learning experience, especially in the dating world.”

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