Recently, at a national conference I attended, I went to an excellent presentation on social media and its impact on clients and their course of psychotherapy. In my practice, I have seen this related to issues my clients face with break-ups, and relationship ups and downs, as well as conflict between family members, as communicated through social media in all of its forms.
Often, after a break up, clients need space and distance from their “ex’s” in order to heal fully. I encourage people to allow time for distance through either using “not following” features on Facebook, for example, or blocking if necessary. Also editing “friends lists” to those who you truly communicate with, had a relationship with in “real” life at one time or another. With art work done in sessions, with me as an art therapist, I tell clients not to share at all, as this is a part of their treatment record, exactly like a therapist’s note would be.
While the open communication of social media definitely has its upsides, the downsides and risk to confidentiality are great. Also, outside of the therapy room, clients need to set boundaries and not leave themselves open to hurt and pain that can be gained from seeing the wrong post at the wrong time. Starting to doing this online can be a good beginning for clients who also need to do this in “real-time” in their “offline” world with face to face interactions.
In short, having respect for oneself, allowing time for healing by limiting or removing visual stimuli or interaction that can be exacerbation of pain, excessive and disturbing, and concentrating on elements that can enhance your life for the positive, be calming, and allow you to focus on the here and now instead of having your head in what others may or may not be doing or saying, are essential to healing. This issue is becoming a growing problem. Please give yourself the gift of healthy internet boundaries, which will translate into healthy boundaries in your day-to-day life.