I can hardly believe it’s been almost a year since my first Psych Central piece, Psychotherapists Unmasked on the Internet, which examined the changing landscape of our field as it relates to therapists having an online presence. There was a paradigm shift occurring, a changing of the guard, from older ideas about how therapists were “supposed” to be presenting themselves — to newer thinking that embraced putting yourself out there (picture and all) on a website with information about you, your philosophy about therapy, articles about specific topics, etc.
I had a number of comments on this piece from therapists trying to find their way in this foreign territory. Marsha Lucas, PhD, said, “It’s a very different experience, walking into the waiting room to meet a new patient, and (a) they already know what I look like, but not the other way around; (b) they already know my educational history and approach to therapy; and (c) they’ve made a choice to see me, rather than (as in the old days) simply being referred by someone else. It’s a different way to start the therapeutic relationship for sure.”
Esther Boykin, MFT, commented, “I am finding that the comfort zone of visibility varies not only by era but by field of study and prior work experience. As someone who has always worked (since graduation) in a private practice setting I see the value of visibility very differently than colleagues who have their professional roots in hospitals and/or agencies.”
In my follow-up piece about 5 months later, Therapists, Social Networking and Blogging, Oh My! The therapist “new world order” was settling in as clinicians were gaining confidence in not only having websites advertising their practices but in writing articles on their blogs and social networking on sites such as Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.
The debate about the ethics of social networking was starting to fade, leaving us with very personal choices about how we as therapists choose to navigate the social networking world as ethically and intelligently as possible given what we do — and how much information we feel comfortable adding to our digital footprint. In the article, the “upsides” and “downsides” to having an “online life” as a therapist were also examined.
Dawn Pugh, MBACP shared, “I too have enjoyed my time blogging and informing others of cutting edge changes within our mental health arenas.”
I created my first website to market my practice almost 6 years ago and was one of a small handful of therapists in my area who were doing so. I quickly learned that people actually do search for therapists online! That site eventually became The Toolbox at LisaKiftTherapy.com, one of the original therapist-created resource websites out there (thank you very much to John Grohol / PsychCentral.com for your inspiration). It’s now a comprehensive resource with topics related to emotional and relationship health with articles by not only me but other therapy professionals – as well as a platform in which to offer my Therapy-At-Home Workbooks® for individuals and couples.
Back then I was ahead of the curve. The wave had not crashed down yet. But now has it ever and I am amazed and impressed at what some have done to showcase their work in a useful, professional and authentic way such as Rewire Your Brain for Love by Dr. Marsha Lucas, PhD. The more trained therapy professionals come out into the light to share their knowledge, the more the public can benefit.
The only dark cloud I see with all of this is therapists trying to do too much, getting too connected and too stretched out with their time. This is something I have to work on constantly – to maintain balance between my business and personal life; from my therapy practice and my online writing endeavors. I’ve heard from other online-savvy therapists that this is a struggle for them too.
At the end of the day, as much as I enjoy my life online and writing, my real passion lies in the face-to-face work of individual or couples therapy. I love the resonance, connectivity and potential for change in being in the room with my clients. This is the meat and potatoes of why I got into this field. For me, networking and blogging simply will never top that experience – but they do enhance the totality of my work.