Navigating the World of Social Media as a Therapist

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Navigating the World of Social Media as a Therapist

In today’s digital age, we therapists are increasingly venturing onto social media platforms like TikTok and YouTube. This shift opens up new avenues for sharing mental health advice, offering helpful tips, and engaging with a broader audience. However, it also raises important questions about ethics, boundaries, and the impact on both therapists and their clients. In this article, we’ll explore the pros and cons of therapists using social media, and provide guidance on how to navigate this landscape ethically and effectively.

Is it ethical for therapists to share their clients’ stories on social media?

What are the benefits and drawbacks of therapists offering mental health advice on TikTok and YouTube?

How can therapists maintain professional boundaries while being active on social media?

What ethical considerations should therapists keep in mind when creating online content?

How do social media influencers impact the work of licensed therapists?

What are the risks and liabilities for therapists engaging with clients in public online forums?

That’s what we’re tackling on the latest episode of Love, Happiness, and Success For Therapists. Check it out on YouTube, Spotify, or Apple Podcasts, and don’t forget to subscribe. But now: Let’s dive in to this juicy topic!  

The Why Behind Therapists on Social Media

First, let’s consider why a therapist might want to be on social media. The potential benefits are significant. Social media can:

  1. Normalize Mental Health Conversations: By openly discussing mental health topics, therapists can help reduce stigma and encourage more people to seek help.
  2. Provide Accessible Information: Social media allows therapists to share valuable insights and tips that can reach a wide audience, helping individuals who might not have access to traditional therapy.
  3. Build Professional Visibility: An online presence can enhance a therapist’s visibility and attract potential clients to their private therapy practice. (More on this: Are you a therapist considering starting a private practice? Here are the things to know.)

However, it’s crucial to approach this with a clear sense of purpose and ethical considerations.

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Ethical Considerations

When engaging with social media, therapists must navigate several ethical challenges:

  1. Client Confidentiality: Discussing clients or their cases, even anonymously, without explicit consent is a breach of confidentiality. It’s essential to avoid any information that could identify a client or their situation.
  2. Power Dynamics: The therapeutic relationship involves a significant power differential. Asking clients for testimonials or to participate in public forums can put undue pressure on them.
  3. Informed Consent: Make it clear that social media interactions are not a substitute for therapy. Provide general information and encourage individuals to seek professional help for specific issues.

The Risks Involved

Therapists on social media face several risks, both to themselves and their clients:

  1. Self-Diagnosis by Clients: Clients may use information from social media to self-diagnose, which can lead to misunderstandings about their mental health and treatment.
  2. Conflicting Advice: Clients may follow multiple sources, leading to conflicting advice that can undermine the therapeutic process.
  3. Public Perception: Therapists’ online presence can impact their professional reputation. It’s important to maintain professionalism and avoid sharing personal details that could influence clients’ perceptions.

The Positives

Despite the challenges, there are many positives to therapists being active on social media:

  1. Education and Awareness: Social media provides a platform to educate the public about mental health, different therapeutic modalities, and what to expect from therapy.
  2. Demystifying Therapy: By discussing therapy openly, therapists can help demystify the process, making it more approachable for those considering it.
  3. Building a Supportive Community: Therapists can foster a supportive online community, providing a space for individuals to learn, share, and grow.

Setting Boundaries

To navigate social media effectively, therapists should set clear boundaries:

  1. Define Your Purpose: Be clear about why you’re using social media and what you hope to achieve. This will help guide your content and interactions.
  2. Stay Professional: Maintain a professional tone and avoid sharing personal details that could affect the therapeutic relationship.
  3. Use General Information: Provide general advice and information, and avoid discussing specific cases or clients.

Conclusion

Social media presents both opportunities and challenges for therapists. By understanding the ethical considerations and setting clear boundaries, therapists can use these platforms to educate, inspire, and support a wider audience while maintaining professional integrity. Remember, the key is to be intentional and thoughtful about your online presence, ensuring that it aligns with your values and the best interests of your clients.

Are you ready to dive into the world of social media as a therapist? Or perhaps you have already taken the plunge and have experiences to share? Join the conversation on LinkedIn or subscribe to our podcast for more insights and discussions on this evolving topic. Let’s navigate this digital landscape together, ensuring we provide the best possible support for our clients and each other.

For those looking to expand their skill set, consider learning to coach as a way to complement your therapy practice. Curious to learn more? Check out “Be a better therapist: Learn how to coach.”

With love, 

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby


PS: One of the things I love tackling on Love, Happiness and Success For Therapists are the ethical dillemmas we therapists face, and how to navigate them successfully. Are you dealing with an ethical dilemma? Let me know what’s on your mind, either here in the comments or through a confidential message, and I’ll discuss it in an upcoming episode! — LMB


Lisa Marie Bobby:

Just like you, I’m a therapist and just like you, I bet I care a lot about being the kind of therapist who can keep my promises to my clients and do a really good job, create, actual transformation in their lives, help them do the work and get where they want to go because of our relationship. And so years ago, after doing a master’s degree that prepared me as a marriage and family therapist, then I did a doctoral degree that helped me become a licensed psychologist.

I got to a place where I realized The things that I learned in counseling school are not actually that helpful and effective for all of my clients, particularly my high functioning growth oriented clients who weren’t dealing with a diagnosis or psychiatric condition, they were really just seeking to create positive changes in their lives, have better relationships or develop themselves.

I found that I actually needed to learn an entirely different modality to be a helper to assist those clients in an effective way. And I found that path, not through counseling psychology, but through coaching psychology. And that was years ago. I became certified as a coach. And since then, I have become this awesome passionate advocate for how to help clinicians incorporate coaching psychology, coaching strategies, coaching modalities and interventions into their work.

Sometimes with therapy clients, I think learning how to coach can make us better therapists, but also by incorporating coaching as. A thing that they do, a service that they provide that’s actually different from therapy. I have had so many therapists approach me with questions wanting to know more about this.

I thought I’d put together a podcast episode that does a dive into what coaching actually is to demystify it a little bit, um, help you understand how it works, how it’s different from therapy, but also how you can incorporate some of these ideas To support and create even more powerful outcomes for your clients.

So that’s what we’re talking about on today’s show. I’m so glad you’re here with me today. I’m Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby. I’m in addition to being the host of love, happiness, and success for a therapist. I’m the founder of growing self counseling and coaching, which is a pretty large group, private practice we have over.

Gosh, 50 therapists running around here. Um, I’m a clinical supervisor. I have been for years. And, uh, I’m also the host of the Love, Happiness and Success podcast, which is for civilians. It is for our clients to support their growth. But because my central mission, I mean, being the founder of Growing Self has really been all about how do we support and nurture and care for clinicians.

So that they’re having a good time and are able to do great work with their clients. Um, I have been teaching, you know, coaching to clinicians on my team. Uh, it’s something that I often discuss. It’s one of the key features of our practice. And I think it’s been part of the reason why, you know, um, people have sought out the services of growing self.

It’s because, you know, what, what we’re doing here is different. because we are incorporating coaching psychology in a way that I think is really appealing to high functioning clients who are not necessarily here to heal or, you know, seeking symptom reduction. They are here to grow and coaching is what supports growth in my experience.

So again, Thank you. Um, I wanted to create this podcast episode today for you and like all the other episodes of Love, Happiness and Success for Therapists, this is what I’m doing, um, just in recognition of the fact that we have chosen a challenging profession and that we always need to be learning and growing and taking care of ourselves and so that’s what Love, Happiness and Success for Therapists is all about.

is hopefully being a source of that support for you. So, so thank you for allowing me today to share with you some of what I am routinely teaching clinicians on my team about the power of coaching psychology. Um, And just to dive right into this, I mean, you know, learning, coaching psychology, for me, it expanded so many horizons.

And I feel like it really revolutionized what I was doing with all of my clients. Um, because what I ran into with traditional psychotherapy, is that all of the models that I had were really around healing and restoring function. The assumption is that people were dealing with a psychological disorder.

And so what I do as a therapist, um, is really centered on the diagnosis and treatment of those psychiatric conditions. It’s coming into a meeting with a client to say, what’s wrong and that the interpretation of what’s wrong is pathological in nature. There’s major depressive disorder or unresolved trauma, or maybe generalized anxiety that is really not congruent with, um, um, What their life experiences are, it is above and beyond their circumstance and it impacts every part of their lives and it makes it really difficult for them to be the people that they want to be and have the kind of relationships or the career that they want to have.

So in order to help them grow, ultimately, we first have to focus on healing. And this can be, um, slow talk centered, you know, we’re going into the past. We’re really focusing on that, that work of building them back up. Now, whenever I tried or to this day, try to take that approach with some clients who are high functioning, who do not have, um, Uh, mental health issues who are doing really just fine and who are feeling frustrated or worried or disappointed because of these life circumstances that they haven’t been able to change.

A coaching approach is much more direct and it is much more effective because we’re going in to understand what’s going on. But then it’s how do you create a different? outcome in a very active and tangible way. And so in my experience, clients who are motivated for this kind of change and ready to grow and make these positive changes will often feel very stuck and frustrated.

by traditional therapy. I mean, I can’t even tell you how many conversations I’ve had with, with some coaching clients who have come to me for help with things, but who prior to that had been in therapy for years, sometimes reporting that it just felt like they were spinning their wheels with a therapist, you know, or they’re rehashing the past in ways that did not make to them.

Or, Which is even worse, I think, having therapists pathologize their experience rather than helping them find their way forward because that’s what the therapist knew how to do. And they’re not wrong. I mean, that is what we’re trained how to do. Um, But when you consider like an example, you have a client show up.

They talk about feeling really down. They dread, you know, Sunday nights and having to get up and go to work in the morning and they don’t feel like getting out of bed and they have no energy and they just kind of hate their job and they’re feeling really stuck and hopeless. Okay. Therapist mindset.

Sounds like depression to me. Let’s do some cognitive behavioral therapy. Let’s get you on some meds and you’ll be feeling better in no time, right? That’s, that’s what we do. Now the coach might listen to that and say, how do those feelings make sense. Let’s have a conversation about what your emotional guidance system is telling you about this disconnect between what you’re experiencing in your career and maybe what you really want or what you really enjoy.

So it is not pathologizing these feelings. It’s saying, let’s Listen to them. Let’s explore them. Let’s use this as an opportunity to help you get reconnected to your authentic values, your desires, what you want in life, and eventually turn this into an actionable plan that helps this client create a different future for themselves with regards to their career.

So these are the differences between therapy and coaching in my experience. And I think it’s very important for us therapists to understand what each of these models are for, because therapists typically have not been taught coaching. anything about coaching psychology. All they’ve been taught is how to do therapy.

And so they try to use these same tools and ideas for all of their clients, not even knowing that there is a better and more appropriate way to help some kinds of clients. Like in that example that I described, somebody who. legitimately does not like their career and, you know, yeah, actually does need to make a change.

How do we facilitate that kind of growth? Therapy is not designed for that. Coaching is. So this outcome focused model of coaching, it just, it aligns so well with so many of the needs of our high functioning clients who really want to grow. to create a different reality for themselves. And, uh, as I mentioned, learning coaching psychology can also, I think, enhance the effectiveness of therapists when they’re doing therapy.

Because the thing that I love the most about coaching is that it offers a specific structure, a process, guidelines for we as therapists to understand where we are in the process and what needs to happen next in order for our clients to continue moving forward. This is an integrally important part of the coaching model and something that is always happening in coaching, but it doesn’t.

always happen in therapy to, I believe, the detriment of our clients. Therapy can be very, um, passive. It is so easy to just drop into a therapy session every week with a client and say, what’s new, how’s work? What’s going on? What should we talk about? And it turns into just this downloading of what’s been going on, how they feel about that, maybe digging into some other stuff, but it’s not always attached to something.

We’re not going anywhere, which makes clients feel really frustrated and understandably so more so for high functioning clients, but even for clients who are really struggling with mental health stuff. It can be so easy for therapists, especially in private practice, to have it start to feel very fuzzy and also very reactive.

Learning coaching will provide you with a framework that if you apply it to what you’re doing in therapy, will help therapy be a lot more effective too. I feel like I became much more competent in many different ways when I learned how to organize the work differently and incorporate a structured system that empowers individuals to move forward, either move forward towards health and restoration of functioning, or or move forwards towards growth and actually creating changes in their lives, in their relationships, in their careers.

So I am super excited about coaching. And I think that you will be too when you really learn how it works. Um, one of the things that I have been disappointed about, I guess is the best way to say is that coaching psychology, um, is very robust. It is evidence of based, it is based on all the same theories of psychology, basic counseling schools that we learn and that we know, but.

Most people don’t know that, and even most professional coaches aren’t practicing it that way. Coaching, unfortunately, is an unregulated profession, meaning that literally anybody can call themselves a coach. They don’t need any, um, education, there are no educational requirements, you don’t have to pass an exam, you don’t have to do anything.

You can just call. put together a website and get good at social media and poof, you’re a coach. And because of that, people operating as coaches in that way, coaching I think has developed a, um, a reputation as being that, basically. So, One of my professional missions is to somehow help coaching become just as regulated as counseling, first of all, but really bring coaching back into the professional realm of trained helpers, of therapists like us, that it becomes another service, another modality, that we therapists who have all the education and the training and these, um, transferable skills, but to learn how to apply it.

apply this to coaching with the same ethical standards, with the same level of knowledge and expertise, um, in order, I think, to create the respect and the appreciation that coaching really deserves because it is a phenomenally powerful system that is designed to create transformation. And so I just wanted to, to toss that out there to you because, um, you know, some therapists that I talk to can have some feelings at first about coaching because they’ve internalized, I think, some of that narrative and the wider culture, right?

That coaching is sort of this woo woo thing that isn’t based on anything. And like therapists are very surprised to learn that there are peer reviewed. academic journals devoted to research in evidence based coaching psychology, primarily at this point in the UK and in Australia, less so in the United States, but they are very much out there, and they’re here for us to learn from and to develop our own skills.

So if this is sounding interesting to you so far, your ears are picking up a little bit, I have good news for you, which is that therapists possess very strong transferable skills that typically adapt seamlessly to the coaching model. But. Not going to lie, there are also profound differences between counseling and coaching in terms of how the work is conceptualized, structured, conducted, that can sometimes be very difficult for people who have been acculturated as therapists to wrap their brains around and to make that pivot, because there’s definitely a coaching mindset, a way of operating as a coach, a way of Cultural differences, even between coaching and counseling where the differences are, are really pretty significant and it can be a steep learning curve, but one that is very beneficial to pursue in my experience to therapists that pursue coaching will also develop a different professional identity that many times feels really inspiring and energizing to them because it opens up a lot of other doors, particularly for clinicians in private practice.

And so these are just some of the pros and cons you’ll want to know about if you’re considering getting involved in coaching. Um, but I should also mention and I shared this, but go in a little bit deeper. You know, the foundations of coaching psychology really do share the same roots with counseling psychology.

So if you did decide to pursue coaching, you’ll find that it taps into what you already know about developmental psychology, social learning, cognitive behavioral therapy, stages of change, positive psychology. I mean, so many things are very much front and center every day that you’re practicing as a coach so that the, the work itself, the, the, um, subject matter expertise that you already have, you can just repurpose it and apply it to a different purpose towards growth.

So for a lot of therapists in my experience, it feels like a very natural progression. And I’ve had counselors literally say to me like, Oh, this is the kind of work that I’ve always wanted to do. I didn’t know it was called coaching. So it’s like all coming together. Um, I will say, I mean, there’s no regulation around coaching and unfortunately, many coaches are self taught.

But in my experience, therapists who decide to pursue coaching, I think because we value education and also from what we’ve gone through in terms of obtaining degrees and so on. So, um, Credentials, like we have a lot of respect for what those credentials mean, and the difference that that education makes, like, you don’t know what you don’t know until you’ve gone through the kinds of things that we have.

And once you have, um, it’s, it’s hard to not have back to for the difference that that that makes. And I will also say that if you’re a therapist interested in doing coaching, it is very protective to have formal credentialing as a coach, or some kind of paper trail that you have received specialized education and training, because there can be a overlap.

And it has also happened that therapists have been called into question around. Are you doing coaching or are you doing therapy? And so any therapist who conducts coaching needs to have a lot of clarity for themselves, for their clients, um, explaining to clients what the difference is. We use a separate set of codes.

paperwork for each modality in order to create a ton of clarity and also be bullet proof, you know, in terms of if anybody is like, are you doing coaching or therapy that we have a very well informed answer for that. This is coaching because X, Y, Z, um, able to articulate very clearly and understanding of all the differences.

And this really does take, I think, some support and education. to be able to figure out because particularly at certain stages of the work, counseling and coaching can have many similarities. The first phase of coaching in particular can feel uncomfortably like therapy for many therapists and create a lot of anxiety, although the intention and where it’s going is completely different.

So therapists say, to have that, that education, that training, that experience, feel very comfortable with the coaching process and don’t feel anxiety, right? Um, additionally, as therapists who coach, we need to have a lot of clarity, visibility and intention around our assessment process in order to, um, make sure that we are providing the right training.

service for our clients, because a client may come in and really not know what they need or want. Or somebody might come in saying, I want therapy. And they’re like the person that I gave you that example about. They hate their job. That’s not the kind of problem that therapy is designed to solve.

Coaching is. So we have a conversation around that. Actually, I think you’d be better served if we do this instead and educate your client around why that makes sense. I have also had so many times somebody showing up saying, I’m here for coaching and then proceed to describe symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder where I’m like, I, we need to have a different conversation.

In my professional opinion, here’s what’s going on and here’s what I recommend for you, but knowing how to conduct those kinds of conversations in a way that helps you get clarity and also helps you, um, make sense of it for your client can, there can be a lot there. So a really good coaching certification program that is designed for therapists.

It’s vitally important on that note, if this is something that you’d like to pursue, there are two main credentialing bodies around coaching. One is ICF, which you may have heard of. It’s fairly well known. Another is less well known and it’s actually BCC, which stands for board certified coach. That’s the coaching credential that I have.

ICF is designed for civilians. Anybody can enroll in an ICF training program. There are no educational requirements. And my understanding is that their programs require 60 clock hours and that those programs seek to take somebody who’s. you know, was a real estate agent and now wants to be a helping professional.

And it’s, here are all the things that you need to know in order to function as a coach. BCC, on the other hand, it is administered by the CCE, a center for credentialing education. And the reason why this credential BCC is more appropriate for therapists is because CCE actually administers already other certification processes for things related to counselors.

So for example, if you were ever a nationally certified counselor, which I was, that happened through the CCE and their coaching programs. First of all, require educational requirements. Nobody can start a BCC coaching program without at least having a college degree, which is one thing that sets it apart.

And they also break it out into your experience level. So for example, as a professional psychologist, marriage and family therapist who has a graduate degree in counseling psychology or related field, you’ll go through a program that assumes you already have a lot of the basics around foundations of psychology, basic counseling skills, and understanding of ethics.

And their credentialing program is 30 hours of coursework, which will prepare you to take the BCC exam. In contrast, if you’re coming into that program with a graduate degree in an unrelated field, you’ll go through a 60 hour coaching program. And if you don’t have a graduate degree, I believe it’s 120 hour coach training program.

So the educational standards and the level of coursework required, in my opinion, are more robust, but they’re also really designed and tailored for therapists. To learn the art and science and craft of coaching. So that’s just something for you to know because some people are curious about that. And I’m also so pleased to let you know, I mean, over the years I have trained so many therapists through growing self on coaching psychology, and I have seen their careers just transformed as a result.

And I believe that you and your clients deserve the same. So I am thrilled to announce that I have, it’s taken a while, but I finally did it, put together a credentialed coach training program, um, that will qualify you to take the BCC exam, meet the criteria issued by the CCE to become a certified coach.

So walking you through all of the different things that you as a therapist really need to know, this coach credentialing program. Is Taylor made for therapists for licensed therapists so that you can use all of your existing skills and education and apply them to coaching ethically and effectively in my program, we spend a lot of time talking about the differences between therapy and coaching so that you can go even deeper.

into these sessions with a lot of clarity and also confidence. We also discuss assessment strategies and how to have conversations with clients that, you know, you can recommend one course of action over another. We certainly do a deep dive into the ethical considerations that all counselors need to know, including the specifics of things like, what, what needs to be on my paperwork?

What are the legal and ethical requirements for me operating as a coach? And how does that differ from therapy? Um, Additionally, we go into the foundations of coaching psychology to take a look at the principles of psychology that are used in coaching psychology, but also the modalities and the core coaching methods that you can use to organize your work with your clients.

Then we go deeply into the how to conduct coaching. Coaching happens in stages. There’s a discovery phase, there’s a working phase, and then there’s a consolidation phase. And in each different phase, you as a coach would be doing different kinds of assessments, having different sorts of conversations. The needs of your clients will be different in each phase.

phase. And through this program, you’ll know what to do, the kinds of questions to ask, how to tell where your client is in this process and what to put in front of them next in order to keep them moving forward. We’ll discuss where clients get stuck and how to manage that or hopefully avoid it. And also how to always be assessing your clients for goodness of fit, no matter where they are.

in the coaching process so that you can always be practicing ethically. Lastly, we’re talking too about, you know, the business of coaching. In my experience, a lot of therapists who want to pursue coaching do so in a, um, private practice environment that is really I think quite good for coaching, um, because really as a coaching therapist, you’re going to be operating outside of the medical model.

So that almost disqualifies you in a good way, in some ways, from working in an agency environment, from a clinic environment, because those are really behavioral healthcare. care systems. But as a therapist who practices coaching, you will be very well equipped to connect with private practice clients who are so excited about the value that they can get through working with you.

Um, and for many of the therapists that I’ve taught how to be coaches, they love the work. It’s fun. It’s energizing. It is positive. It’s exciting. It’s also quite Deep and it is meaningful and it is transformational. But, um, it’s just a joy to be a therapist who coaches. And that’s why I’m so excited that this coaching program that I’ve developed is now available for you.

So if you would like to learn more about becoming credentialed as a coach through Growing Self, come to my website, growingself. com forward slash therapists. There are actually so many resources there for you, articles, other podcasts, videos, quizzes, but you will also learn about our coaching certification program and you can apply to enroll.

All right. So thanks so much for spending this time with me today. It was a pleasure to hang out and be here with you. I hope I gave you some food for thought. And if you have questions about this or any of the other topics you hear me talk about on the show, I do hope you get in touch. Contact me through Instagram.

growing underscore self. Also, um, at growing self through Facebook and track me down on LinkedIn. It’s a great way to get in touch with me. Just do a search for Lisa Marie Bobby. I’ll pop right up and we will talk. All right. Thanks so much. I’ll be back in touch soon.

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