Therapy and Social Media: Part 1

Shall we demonize social media, or rely upon it? What is its relationship with therapy?

Everyone’s got something to say about technology. It’s brilliant; it’s terrible. It’s the path to the future; it’s the path to doom. I don’t buy into either extreme. There are many, many technological advances – including social media! – that make positive contributions to our lives – but many can also be incredibly detrimental, particularly when someone is pursuing therapy.

Studies have shown that individuals prone to depression who participate in Facebook can alleviate some negativity by “liking” others’ posts and, in turn, having their own posts “liked.” It creates a lifeline of connections, and connections are what keep our species going. However, like anything, it can become an addiction, and instead of supplementing our other connections, it can become a subpar replacement – an escape.

When a struggling young man comes to me for help, wanting to get his life back on track, whether by overcoming addiction, finding his passion, cultivating skilled work ethic and confidence, or otherwise, I insist on a temporary sabbatical from social media. Getting rid of it entirely during intense therapy is valuable; keeping up with it can hinder progress. I emphasize “temporary,” though, because I do not want to vilify what can be an important supplemental connection for an individual. I just want him to be able to cement connections to himself and to his outside world first, so that the virtual connection then has nothing to compensate for or dominate, merely providing an additional method of communication (rather than the primary).

What about social media and real time consequences for behavior? Stay tuned for the next piece….