Sep

23

By Kate Daigle

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Categories: Uncategorized

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Social media: when to open up and when to shut up

Social media is the thing of the present and the future.  Only someone who lives in a very rural area or someone who tries incessantly to avoid Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, blogs, etc can sidestep its influence — and even then, media still finds a way to reach you.  There is much chatter and debate about the pros and cons of the social media universe, but my concern in this post is: in fields such as medicine, counseling, and therapy, where confidentiality is so important, when do you communicate and when do you keep your mouth (and typing fingers) closed?  Most professionals agree that it is always best to err on the side of caution and not talk at ALL about what is going on in your career in order to protect your clients.  I agree with this.  It brings me back to the lessons I learned when I was just beginning graduate school about the necessity to omit details, identifying information, and specifics when talking about what psychotherapists do.  In the realm of protecting client rights and privacy, the less said the better.  I felt then, and I still feel today, a sort of isolation based on this rule.  And it’s difficult when the very nature of your work is to process and help clients get through challenging situations that may require the psychotherapist’s own emotions to become involved (no matter how hard they try to protect their boundaries).  When you are carrying around the secrets and concerns of so many clients over the years, how do you release them so that they don’t bind you down?

Social media is NOT the answer, but it can be tempting to open up to a forum that might provide you with comfort and feedback.  Psychotherapists would say that it is most helpful to find a group or community of people in the same field with whom to confidentially process the needs of our clients, so in to help us help our clients best.  Supervision (individual or groups) is cathartic and essential, both legally and emotionally.  But it costs money, as do many of the groups that psychotherapists can join to talk about the ins and outs of the field.  It can leave a therapist feeling alone, and that they have many decisions to make solely — whether they are about client treatment or about the therapist’s own inner feelings.

An interesting twist on this topic is that therapists are encouraged or as this blog states, pretty much required to be on social media sites: writing blogs, marketing themselves, making a solid presence.  In the modern day of technological advancement, newly established counselors would be left in the dust if they did not jump on the social media bandwagon.  So again my question states: what is too much information, and what kind of communication is needed in social media for counselors to grow and thrive in this day and age?