Subway Therapy is about making people smile, laugh, and feel less stress. It's about peaceful expression and being part of a vibrant and diverse community, and I want to tell you a little about how it started and where it will go.
For the last several years I imagined going outside with a table and chairs to talk to people. I don't know why, but it was always something I wanted to do. What got me thinking in this specific direction was the concept of absolution. How do people feel better about the things they feel bad about? There are so many people walking around with extra emotional weight. I am very lucky to have family and friends that help me process events that happen in my life, but what if someone doesn't have a family to turn to or friends to support them? What if they don't have a community to be a part of, or easy access to therapy? This is a complicated problem with no clear solution.
About a year ago, I sat with a book people could write their secrets in, and I had a little sign that said Secret Keeper. More often than not, people would just talk to me instead of writing something down. People would say "I feel so much better! This is great... like therapy". I heard it enough that it stuck, and Subway Therapy was born.
Early in 2016 I started wearing a suit, and setting up my "office" in different subway stations in New York. I started going by Levee as a way to step out of my day to day routine, and in a smaller way, to protect myself. Today, I try to go out about once a week as "The Subway Therapist" when work and weather allows, and my temporary office is open for about 4 hours each time. Keep in mind, I am not a licensed therapist, and I have no obligation to keep what I hear confidential. I cannot provide professional advice, but I like to listen and when asked I give personal advice from my experience.
Lately, the project has evolved and I have been using sticky notes to give people an opportunity to transform their stress into something beautiful. Sometimes I write Express Yourself, and other times I ask questions.The first time I used sticky notes was after the election in 2016. With individuals feeling a myriad of ways about the results, I wanted to encourage them to let out what they were keeping inside. All I did was bring sticky notes to my table in the subway and I invited individuals to write something and stick their note up on the wall behind the table for all to see. In the first few days over 10,000 notes were written, and in the coming months an estimated 50,000 spread like rainbow colored ivy at 14th st/6th avenue and Union Square. The initiative in New York spread across the country and countless individuals wrote notes in public places, schools, businesses, and who knows where else. It was encouraging and inspiring to see this simple idea blossom into a symbol of unity and diverse expression.
I wanted to share the inspiration I felt with others, and I decided to write a book about the notes and my experience which you can find here. I can't express how lucky I feel to be able to do this work and be there for individuals who need or want it. I encourage you to do what you can too. I don't exactly recommend dressing up like a therapist and setting up shop in your local subway station, but maybe the wild and crazy times we live in require innovative and unconventional problem solvers. I'm happy to assist if you have an idea you need help bringing to life so don't be shy about getting in touch.
I look forward to our conversation,