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Like a lot of mental health care providers, Mariana Prutton became a therapist because she wanted to help people overcome their problems and live happier, healthier lives.
When she heard about job openings at Lyra a couple of years ago, Prutton was excited by the company’s dedication to tackling the problems inherent in the mental health care system, and its tech-enabled approach to connecting more people to care. Today, she meets with clients via live video, shares digital lessons and exercises, and tracks her clients’ progress, all through Lyra’s digital platform.
Recently, the now-senior therapist took some time to fill us in on her career path and her experience at Lyra so far.
I started working as a therapist six years ago. My undergrad psychology classes were what initially drew me to the field – they were always my favorite courses, and topics I wanted to learn more about. From there, I wanted to get direct experience to see how all of these academic theories and ideas actually worked.
In college, I got real-life, practical experience working with people with severe mental health issues. I really enjoyed working with people who had a variety of different life experiences and diagnoses. I worked in a mental health rehabilitation center and also with kids, teens, and young adults, so I had the opportunity to treat people across the lifespan with a variety of different issues.
I’d heard through the grapevine lots of positive things about Lyra in terms of decreasing the stigma around mental health and increasing access to mental health care. As therapists on the ground, we see how dysfunctional the mental health care system is, so I really liked that Lyra was trying to solve wider systemic issues like the lack of available in-network providers and high out-of-pocket costs.
One of the best parts about the job is definitely the collaborative nature of Lyra. I get to be part of a clinical consult group, do in-person trainings, and meet other therapists. All that interaction and training doesn’t typically happen in private practice, and it makes it easy to learn from one another. For example, one therapist in my cohort has a lot of experience treating clients with autism, whereas I don’t. Being able to call on her for resources and tips around working with that population has been really helpful.
Another unexpected perk is that I can choose the hours that work best for me and my clients, since I work remotely. Since video therapy enables clients to have sessions anywhere, I hold more early-morning and daytime appointments, which frees up my afternoons and evenings. And because I don’t have to factor in a commute multiple days a week, I get time back in my day to do things I enjoy, like walking my dog or going to a yoga class.
One challenge is that clients often come in with misconceptions about therapy. A lot of times, people expect psychoanalysis, or that therapy should go on forever. So there’s some expectation-setting that needs to be done at the beginning to let clients know that a short-term, evidence-based approach can be really effective.
Another thing is that sometimes clients aren’t a good fit for video therapy, which tends to happen with more severe cases. So even if there’s a relationship fit, you still have to refer that person out so they can get the most appropriate care for their needs. That can be challenging if the client has connected with you.
I think the most exciting thing is that Lyra brings together so many different types of people who are committed to improving mental health. You have people from a variety of backgrounds across engineering, sales, marketing and other teams working hard to improve how people get connected to mental health care, and improving the care experience in general. I love that there’s an onboarding training on-site where everyone can get to know each other and meet the people working behind the scenes on the product.
In other companies I’ve been in, people tend to get really burnt out and drained from being in a dysfunctional system, so it’s nice being around people who are inspired and motivated to make changes. It’s a true community and team effort, and we celebrate client success stories across teams since so many people have a hand in those stories in some way or another.
On any given day at Lyra, no two clients are the same – each person is dealing with their own unique struggles and issues. It’s different from my experiences in private practice or clinics where you’re often working on a particular issue. Having this much variety in my caseload has been a great opportunity to become more competent in specific treatments. I feel like I’m developing more expertise in a breadth of diagnoses and issues.
My clients are generally very motivated and engaged throughout the whole process. I really like working with people who are so willing to try different things and practice new skills to make positive changes in their lives.
Lyra has a library of high-quality resources that I can easily share with my clients. Being able to integrate digital lessons, exercises, and resources in a completely personalized way for each client means they get extra support and often make a lot of progress in between sessions. It really helps that you don’t have to give clients paper worksheets that they have to carry around and return to you – it’s all in the platform, so it’s just a more user-friendly process. Our clinical team is constantly working to build out the resources we can share with our clients so that therapy has the biggest impact possible.
The video lessons are also helpful because they help normalize some of the struggles clients are going through and offer tangible strategies that they can apply to their lives. The lessons help reinforce what clients are learning in therapy and keep those skills and strategies top of mind. It helps keep clients engaged and thinking about the things you’re discussing every week.
We have access at Lyra to continuing education trainings – live, recorded webinars – which help me grow my clinical skills. A couple of recent trainings that stand out in my mind were on intimate partner violence and exposure therapy for kids. Since I don’t specialize in either of those areas, it was so nice to do a deep dive with an expert into how to work with those populations.
My weekly clinical consult group has also been a great chance to learn from other therapists. It gives us a chance to share ideas and learn about other strategies or ways of approaching a situation – and we’re able to support each other through any problems we’re facing. I’ve found that the therapists who come to Lyra are excited about being better therapists and improving the care experience, and that includes professional development and collaborating with other people.