5 Reasons Why Therapists Being Authentic on Social Media is a Good Thing
Welcome to 2021: Where therapists are showing up on social media more #human than ever. And some people aren’t fans.
I recently read an article posted on Good Therapy that was written as a guide for therapists to use to navigate their professional social media presence.
It implied that posting anything about your personal life was ill-suited for a professional social media page (including a picture of your kittens).
Yes, you read that right: kittens. This wasn’t an article from 10 or 20 years ago. It was updated recently.
Mind you, this was right after scrolling through #TherapistsofInstagram for 15 minutes where I scrolled past therapists dancing, crying, sharing their homes and families, talking about their medications and past trauma, and dropping the F*bomb on their professional social media pages.
If you follow me on social media, you’ll see some of the same.
And while there aren’t any written rules that say: “Counselors must refrain from dropping the F*bomb on their professional social media”... as counselors, we are indoctrinated into a few unwritten truths:
1) Don’t share about your personal life. Ever.
2) Be “professional” always and keep “professional and personal” totally separate. (No kittens!!!!)
3) Fix your own mental health problems so they don‘t get in the way and DON’T talk about them.
These aren’t just *in-session* truths. These truths have wiggled their way into every part of a therapist’s professional being.
And while I know that these guidelines once served a purpose (and still can) and were created with the client in mind, I also know how often they have blocked connection with clients and steered people away from therapy. I also believe they are due for an update.
I’m not alone in this, clearly. The new mental health movement on social media is shifting these truths in a big way and it is… wait for it….
bringing more people to therapy.
I don’t have some research statistic to support this. I say this because I know firsthand. I know because new clients tell me. It isn’t just mental health issues from the pandemic that have led to more people seeking therapy, a lot of people are finding that therapy seems more approachable and that therapists seem more approachable since they have taken to social media.
The people have spoken, and drum roll…… they want the kittens!!!
Keep scrolling for 5 reasons therapists being authentic on social media is a good thing
So, as a therapist who has had a professional social media presence for a little over two years,
I am HERE for the authenticity and here’s why:
1) It’s breaking down the power differential in the therapeutic process. AKA it is empowering the client.
Therapists being more open about their mental health, their stories, and their lives is dismantling the inherent “expert vs. incompetent” and “us vs. them” mentality that can so often hinder the relationship in therapy.
By bringing more of our humanity into public spaces, it can help clients feel less shame for struggling with the very same parts of being human.
Connection is hard to maintain when one party is on a giant pedestal.
2) It can benefit therapist’s mental health (and all new therapists-to-be) and therefore serves clients.
Many therapists (in the U.S.) suffer in silence because somewhere in their training they internalized the belief that it is indeed not okay to struggle with mental health issues. This leads to therapists not engaging in their own therapy, and therefore bringing risk of harm to their clients.
Seeing other therapists be open about their struggle fights stigma for everyone, including other therapists.
I can’t tell you how many therapists-in-training have reached out to thank me for my openness and honesty about my own mental health. They have told me they no longer feel as much shame to reach out for therapeutic help, too.
We need therapists to be mentally well for the future of our mental health care system. Clients deserve it. Therapists deserve it.
3) It brings more congruence to the mental health field.
The mental health counseling field can be a funny one. It often has counselors discussing the value of authenticity while simultaneously demanding counselors be inauthentic by hiding parts of themselves that the field deems as “unprofessional”. It prioritizes “asking for help” while maintaining an occupational culture of shame when counselors ask for help.
Therapists being authentic and open has the walk match the talk. Isn’t that what we, as therapists, are all about?
4) It gives more information to the consumer and saves them time and money.
I cannot imagine how much time, energy, and money I would have saved if I could have looked at a therapist’s social media before meeting with them. I probably could have saved myself some retraumatization as well.
Sure. I see some therapists that have different boundaries than I choose to have on social media… just like I see some therapists that choose to have different boundaries in the workplace than I choose to have.. And ya know what? This would be great information for me as a potential client! You can now learn a lot about a therapist long before you ever sit in their office and open yourself up to them. This can be a blessing.
On the flip side, clients can search for a therapist that would be a good fit more easily than ever before. They can look them up on social media, learn from them, learn about their style, and possibly save a bunch of initial ”bad-fit” sessions.
Clients are also exposed to many different frameworks in the mental health field now instead of being exposed to one therapist and believing that is the ”end all be all” for what therapy is all about.
5) It saves lives.
If bridging the ”us vs. them” gap and making therapy more approachable by intertwining authenticity brings more people to therapy, then it saves lives.
Therapy saves lives. Authenticity can save lives.
I’m proud to be a therapist who chooses to show up professionally in other spaces besides the therapy session.
I believe this takes courage and I believe it makes the mental health field a better place. I’m in great company and I’m thankful for the helpers that are paving the way.
Hey, authenticity is cool! Therapists being authentic on social media is doing good things for our society like 1) empowering clients 2) benefitting therapist’s mental health 3) bringing more congruence to the mental health field 4) saving clients time and money and 5) saving lives.
Disclaimer: The content in this blog is not considered therapy and is not a replacement for mental health care. Please consult your own counselor or seek out counseling if you are in need of mental health care.
This is an opinion blog by a human who also happens to be a therapist.
About the Author:
Tyndal Elizabeth Schreiner is an anxious millennial who also happens to be a licensed therapist. She is a writer, an advocate, and a trauma-informed practitioner with a private practice serving the good folks of the State of Texas.