Unique cafe offers a side of psychotherapy

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Unique cafe offers a side of psychotherapy

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An outside glimpse of The Feeling Store, a coffee shop in Seongbuk District, northeastern Seoul. [WON DA-YOUNG]

Coffee typically comes with something like a pastry rather than a psychotherapy session, but a unique cafe in Seongbuk District, northeastern Seoul, is trying to change that.

The Feeling Store, which first opened in August 2013, offers various ways for customers to get in touch with their emotions while sipping their latte.

One key program is the Feeling Box, an exhibition of 40 different boxes labeled with emotions like “afraid” or “brave.” Customers are encouraged to pick one and reflect on that feeling through the three questions written inside.

In the “regret” box, for instance, the three questions are: Why did I select this feeling? What do I want to tell the next person that selects this box? What’s my own definition of regret?

Customers can write their answers on a piece of paper and place it back inside the box, sharing a bit of themselves with whoever chooses it next.

Other programs offered at the cafe include counseling sessions with the owners, a married couple who go by the nicknames Nabida and Sojaissi, who claim to be “quasi-experts” in the field of psychotherapy.

“We wanted a place where we could take a breather from life,” said Nabida, the wife and a former magazine editor. “With ‘healing’ becoming a trend in Korea nowadays, we wanted to establish a place that could provide a kind of bandage for all scratched hearts.”

“Most people think ‘healing’ refers to caring for a physical or mental wound,” said Sojaissi. “But actually, it’s part of a process getting to know yourself better - your real self. Listen deep within and hear the sounds from the inner you.”

The couple said they believe the Feeling Box can serve as a kind of “philosophical guide,” encouraging customers to reflect on their past choices and make different ones in the future.

Lee Jun-hee, 24, a college student living in Seodaemun District, western Seoul, confided she didn’t expect much from the program before actually using it and was surprised by the results.

“It really touched my heart reading about others’ stories and feelings,” she said.

The cafe has also moved others to focus on emotional awareness in their own lives.

“When I first heard about this coffee shop and its main theme, I was inspired to run a similar program at my childcare center,” said Lee Jae-hyung, a 39-year-old teacher. “Now my students really enjoy it.”

The Feeling Store is located near exit No. 6 of Hansung University Station on line No. 4. Drinks, which include coffee, tea and juice, are 5,000 won ($4.4) each and include use of the Feeling Box. The cafe’s other programs cost between 10,000 won and 15,000 won. It is open from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., every day of the week except Mondays. For further details, visit the shop’s website at http://www.feelingchanggo.com or call 02-765-8349.

BY WON DA-YOUNG [kcu_presswd0@naver.com]
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