I believe we are here to make a difference in the world. As therapists we often do this through our relationships with clients. I call it changing the family tree. Work that can impact not just the individual but will ripple into generations beyond.
Today we have another opportunity to influence our communities and culture, all because of technology, all because of social media.
As a private practice coach, I do refer to using social media to build your practice by offering something of value to people. With every tweet and post, you can inspire and help someone that you would otherwise never see in your office.
For this blog, I am writing about a different way of using social media as therapists. Beyond our couches, we can reach into the hearts of others, educate, dialogue and influence common cultural issues that impact the lives of our clients and that keep people from getting our kind of help.
For example, during the first full week of October, NAMI and participants across the country are bringing awareness to mental illness. #Iamstigmafree is the campaign that seeks to break down the stigma around mental illness. One hashtag is making an impact on the world. You can participate by sharing the hashtags on your social media accounts. Start giving voice to an all to common issue.
Does that really work? The more we shine light into the dark recesses of our culture, the more we can normalize experiences, find strengths and positives and allow space for a dialogue and a rewriting of our stories. When you identify with a cause, you are saying you take a stand along side others who are hurting. The reach of our messages expands with social media. Tweet a community leader enough times from enough people and you will probably get a response.
Social media is a tool to leverage social justice issues into the forefront of our society. We can complain that our phones aren’t ringing or that our culture doesn’t support psychotherapy as a valid tool – but we can also reach out to educate and empower others.
Mercedes Samudio, LCSW at The Parenting Skill is working to end parenting shaming with her campaign. Too often parents feel isolated and judged by others which decreases their willingness to reach out for help and so she created the #endparentshaming project. You can learn more about it here. With a simple hashtag, people across the country are sharing why they want to end parent shaming by tweets and posting videos on their social media sites. A simple hashtage is evoking a response in parenting communities and bringing awareness to all too common issue that is hurting families.
Before you cringe and shy away from social media, listing all of its potential hazards, just consider what others are doing to change the world. Yes there are boundary issues that need to be addressed and should be addressed through your social media policy, however, your potential for influence is worth so much more.
So join with us and take a stand. Share #Iamstigmafree. Bring mental health awareness to light with your friends, family, and contacts. Stigma stops with us.
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