Bea Arthur's visionary online therapy platform, Pretty Padded Room.com, offers affordable, comfortable and easy access to counseling for those who have always wondered about therapy but never had time, money or resolve enough to actually go. Here she talks about her concept and why she loves to be a therapist.
Why did you become a therapist?
It was actually suggested to me! I was struggling to work my way up the real estate ladder but kept at it because people seemed to like and trust me. One day, a client put the idea in my head and soon afterwards, I met a part time broker who was getting her Master’s in Counseling Psychology at Columbia. It was the only program I applied to and they let me in. Kizmet.
What is the concept behind Pretty Padded Room?
Online therapy for women that is accessible, approachable and affordable. I want to transform traditional therapy, which is often seen as intimidating, expensive, and clinical, and create an experience that is convenient, low-cost, and comfortable.
Why did you pick that name?
Because I wanted one for myself! I liked the idea of having a safe space to vent where I could say and feel whatever I wanted without fear of being judged. Also when we talk about a “pretty” padded room, we're taking away the stigmas surrounding therapy. The message that remains is simply this: we want to hear from you. We want you to let it all out instead of keeping it in. And often you’ll find that you feel better.
Why do you think Pretty Padded Room is needed?
Whenever I tell someone I’m a therapist, the response is invariably, “Oh I’ve always thought about doing that.” So it was clear that people were curious about counseling but that, between cost, inconvenience and social stigmas, there were too many reasons not to try it out. What we're doing is removing every one of these hurdles and telling women everywhere, This is totally normal and it’s good for you.
Why do you think it’s important to foster female bonding?
It was really important for me to have a business where women took care of each other. There’s so much competition amongst us in other industries that doesn’t make use of our strengths and doesn’t need to be that way.
What kind of help can people get from Pretty Padded Room?
It’s “me time,” plain and simple--you choose a therapist who is tailored to your needs and who is there for you when you need her, through video or instant message sessions. You don’t have to go through Skpye or call her, it’s all built into the platform which was built just for us by Bell&Whistle. You can also write to her if you don’t have time for a full session and she’ll write back in your Digital Diary. Whether your boyfriend’s being an idiot or you just had a rotten day at work, you vent and she helps you make sense of it.
What are the most common challenges that women face today?
Acceptance, definitely. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to be “a better person” but women face a lot of pressure to meet their own impossibly high standards as well as the standards of so many others. The end result is constant disappointment. I struggle with this myself. I’m pretty happy with my life and the choices I’ve made but I’d be lying if I said I don’t care what other people think about me. We all need to let that go.
If you weren’t a therapist, what would your dream job be?
For me, this is a sweet deal - I studied broadcast journalism in undergrad so I’ve always really enjoyed talking to people and hearing good stories. Maybe a cowgirl, for the freedom. But even then, I'd be out talking to the horses.