At Coffee Talks, you are invited to take the first step and open up over coffee

Chat with a barista/licensed therapist at Coffee Talks. (PHOTO: Cheryl Tay)
Chat with a barista/licensed therapist at Coffee Talks. (PHOTO: Cheryl Tay)

Talking to someone sounds so simple, yet it can be a very complex thing to do. For instance, talking to someone about the weather is not the same as talking to someone about what’s bothering you. It can be a very daunting thing for some, to open up and share how they really feel.

To encourage people to talk, social enterprise Goodity Co. is hosting a pop-up called Coffee Talks by Goodity Co. from now till 29 January on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, 12pm to 7pm.

Held at *SCAPE (opposite Subway and next to McDonald’s), the concept is simple – purchase a cup of coffee or tea (for as low as $12) and you will be served by a barista, who is also a licensed therapist. For 15 minutes, you can talk about anything you want as your barista pours you this cup of coffee. If 15 minutes is too short, just buy another cup.

Explaining the objective behind this, Goodity Co. founder Daryl Tan said, “We want therapeutic conversations to be as normalised as ordering a cup of coffee. We want more people in the community to experience the therapeutic nature of conversation, to have a safe space where they are allowed to speak anything on their minds in confidence to a professional without judgment.

“Even with mental health and therapy gaining traction in our society, the barrier of entry to it is still rather intimidating. There’s still a stigma to therapy, so our intention is to lower the barriers and show that there’s nothing ‘wrong’ with speaking to a professional in our society. It can just start as a simple conversation over a nice cup of brew.”

Taking that first step

If therapy is something that you have been thinking of trying but is scared of the idea, this is something that would help you take that first step.

987FM radio deejay Avery Aloysius Yeo tried it and said, “This breaks down the walls of traditional therapy and it is a lot easier for you to open up and declutter your mind. It wasn’t intimidating at all it and felt like it was just coffee with a friend. I sometimes forgot that my barista was a licensed therapist.”

Agreeing with Avery, local musician Haneri said, “The idea of talking over coffee is so natural it seemed like the perfect idea to start something as personal as talking to a therapist. It was a very good experience to get to talk my heart out and get an insight as to what had been bothering me without me knowing. If you’re new to the idea of therapy this is a very non-jarring way of initiating the conversation.”

Former Miss Universe Singapore 2011 and national director of Miss Universe Singapore, Valerie Lim, added, “I decided to try this because I’ve heard and read about the benefits of therapy. Dealing with our emotions is an important of functioning well day-to-day. We go through ups and downs and having the ability to balance and regulate ourselves is key to overall well-being.

“I was nervous at first as I was not sure what to expect but it turned out to be an easy conversation that flowed as I felt safe to express myself and my thoughts. Having a safe space to share one’s feelings and thoughts without judgement helps us to be more self-aware of how we react. When I stepped out of the session, I felt happier and energised.”

Chat with a barista/licensed therapist at Coffee Talks. (PHOTO: Cheryl Tay)
Chat with a barista/licensed therapist at Coffee Talks. (PHOTO: Cheryl Tay)

Just rant about your day

You don’t have to have an issue you are struggling with to talk to someone, it could be something as simple as ranting about a bad day. You will be surprised at how liberating it can be to let it all out and get it off your chest.

“This is a really comfortable way to try therapy for the first time so it's perfect for those who are curious about how it feels to speak to a therapist, or maybe even those who just want to vent about something and don't have an outlet for it,” said local actor Aaron Mossadeg.

Coffee Talks is just one of the many initiatives that Goodity Co. is launching to make therapy more affordable and accessible. They are dedicated part of their resources to provide pro-bono or subsidised therapy services, subjected to financial assessment and on a case-to-case basis, and you can simply apply to them.

If talking is still a bit too confrontational for you, they have a WhatsApp therapy service where you can text a therapist for 30 minutes at just $45 from anywhere you are.

“I love the concept of making mental health resources more accessible. This is a great step towards de-stigmatising seeking therapy for mental health,” said singer and fitness trainer Tyen Rasif.

“In addition, Coffee Talks can help others validate their emotions and normalise seeking help when needed. My barista-therapist was great and I liked the relaxed environment that we spoke in. This definitely made it feel less clinical and more like I was sharing with a friend.”

Coffee Talks by Goodity Co. runs from now to 29 January (Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, except public holidays) from 12pm to 7pm at Orchard *SCAPE. You can walk in or reserve your slot here.