Life in a Bind – BPD and me

Borderline Personality Disorder, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, and my therapy journey. Listed in Top Ten Resources for BPD in 2016 by goodtherapy.org. I write for welldoing.org and for Muse Magazine Australia, under the name Clara Bridges.

Therapists, clients, and the internet – a dilemma on both sides

10 Comments

Following on from an incredibly interesting and thought-provoking article in the Guardian Weekend today by Louise Chunn (founder of welldoing.org), entitled ‘Search me: should you google your therapist?’, I wanted to share links to two posts I wrote some time ago, on my experience and thoughts on this difficult subject:

https://lifeinabind.com/2015/04/26/have-you-googled-your-therapist/

https://lifeinabind.com/2015/10/04/staying-connected-to-my-therapist-and-trying-to-be-kind-to-myself/

I was honoured and pleased to be able to talk to Louise about this subject, and to be quoted in her article, and excited by the fact that this important topic is being raised openly for discussion. I’m sure it is a challenging area for therapists to grapple with, and it fascinates me to find out more about how different therapists deal with these questions. From the client’s perspective, the subject is one that is often laden with feelings of shame, confusion, and distress. I hope that the article helps clients to know that if they engage in some ‘internet sleuthing’ they are not alone, and it’s okay to talk about it. In fact it can be ‘therapeutic gold’ and incredibly beneficial to talk about it in session, and I would encourage any client to be up-front about their actions, desires, curiosities and feelings in this area. The very act of discussing a ‘googling episode’ can alleviate any negative feelings associated with it, as well as (in my experience) make it less likely to happen in future. I have found that the ‘googling’ decreases as trust and depth of therapeutic relationship increases – and talking about difficult subjects and feelings, such as these, is itself a key part of building relationship.  I hope you enjoy the article and the posts!

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10 thoughts on “Therapists, clients, and the internet – a dilemma on both sides

  1. The curiosity is inevitable or at least very human. Obsession is another story. And, of course, you never know what you might find. I have a psychiatrist friend who reports that a male patient was “in love” with her and, when she properly spurned him (I’m sure tactfully) and tried to deal with the transference, he became enraged and wouldn’t let go of the relationship even after the termination of treatment. He went so far as to post lies about her on the internet. This, so she says, cost her a small fortune to deal with and, even years later, is still not completely expunged.

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    • Oh dear 😦 I’m so sorry for what happened to your friend. I guess this may be a particular danger for the therapist, though presumably in other walks of life as well – someone who reacts in this way when ‘spurned’ would probably do so (would you say?) if it were a work colleague, family friend, long-time friend etc? It doesn’t make it any easier for the person who is only trying to do the right thing, and when it affects someone’s livelihood as well as their personal life, that makes things even more difficult….

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  2. This is incredibly interesting and I have read a few blogs addressing it.
    My therapist is my ‘friend’ on Facebook but we’re not friends. She is also the sister in law of a ex work friend. I had met her brother before she became my therapist. She doesn’t post a lot of personal stuff online. Her friends occasionally tag her in pictures or places, but she is mostly advertising her business. I don’t post a lot on FB either. She doesn’t seem to have a problem with it and she would say if she did! But I don’t blur the lines. I wouldn’t be an to be so open with her if we were friends.
    You made some great points in the article! Philippa Perry’s view was also interesting.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. My current therapist isn’t anywhere. She doesn’t publish articles. She has her website, her linked in and a teacher profile somewhere else. Honestly I like it so much better than my last therapist who blogs regularly, is all over social media, and who has a podcast.

    It’s complicated but my personal belief is less is better.

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    • Thank you so much for your comment. I must admit that though I love reading blogs/articles by other therapists, I am very thankful that my therapist doesn’t blog. I think it undoubtedly introduces complications, which I have no doubt can be worked through, but for me, there is so much to work through already, and so many other complications, I am glad not to have to work through this one!

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  4. I’m going to have to agree with Paper Doll on this one. Having also had a therapist who blogs and is all over social media, I’m not sure that transparency is in the best interest of the client. It definitely created an illusion of trust that allowed me to enter into therapy in the first place – but ultimately I think it was a distraction.

    One of my biggest issues with the therapist’s blog is that it only reflects one point of view – sometimes without any regard for the impact to the clients, past, present or future. It was also hard to encounter the fans of her blog – many of whom seem to idolize her. It’s not my blog, but I’m in there, but not openly acknowledged or represented. I often felt invisible.

    I don’t think a therapist has to be a blank
    slate (although my new one is – no online presence, no self disclosures) but I think they – and in fact all of us – need to be very mindful of interactions in the public sphere and in social media.

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    • Thank you so much for commenting – as I mentioned to Paper Doll, I entirely sympathise with this view and feel slightly hypocritical for loving therapists’ blogs, but being thankful my own doesn’t blog! I know I would find many aspects of it difficult, if my therapist blogged, and I think you picked out one of the hardest when you mentioned fans of therapists’ blogs. It’s hard enough knowing my therapist has other clients, who probably feel strongly about her – seeing that admiring response – albeit not from clients – and wondering how she felt about it, would be tough. I completely agree that this is an area in which a great deal of thought about ethics is necessary – therapist will come to their own, different conclusions, but I think thinking it through carefully first, is an ethical obligation, irrespective of the conclusion each individual comes to….

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  5. Pingback: More reflections on googling my therapist | Life in a Bind - BPD and me

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