Ok, so given that I am a therapist and that I blog you might think the answer to this question is “Yes.” But it isn’t, at least not a simple yes.
In the course of my work with coaching clients and scouring the internet for blogs, I have seen what I think works, and what I think doesn’t. But first, let’s examine your motives for blogging (how therapisty is that?)
Do you want to blog to:
- Get out a message you feel passionate about?
- Promote your practice?
- Disseminate information on a topic?
- Give your patients some part of you and your work together to hold onto between sessions?
- Generate discussion with your colleagues?
- Vent about your day/life/work?
If you answered yes to one or more of those then blogging may be a good way to do that, with the exception of the last one. And if the only reason you want to blog is because you want to promote your work, that is probably not sufficient. Let’s address these exceptions one at a time.
This form of blogging can occur on a dedicated blog site of your own or on a Facebook page. Since the entries are time-stamped there is no real confidentiality to them if you blog immediately after some frustrating occurrence happens with a friend/partner/child/patient. If you are blogging on your own site you could make it private by moderator approval, but that doesn’t guarantee that one of your subscribees won’t cut and paste something you said and send it out into the cyberverse.
That is not to say that blogging about your work or a patient is inherently wrong, or venting. There is a difference between exploring a clinical issue and your thoughts and feelings around it, and venting about a patient. An excellent example of this is a recent series done by Jason Mihalko on dealing with a patient’s suicide. The series is a very respectful and candid exploration of the aftermath of a suicide, and as such is both sophisticated and useful to his colleagues. While I wouldn’t feel comfortable writing that sort of blog post, I am very glad that Jason takes that risk, and I think psychotherapists and their patients will benefit from it.
The main point is that Jason is not using his blog to sound off or vent. This is a far cry from what you see on Facebook or in posts that say, “Just finished with my OCD patient, boy does she drive me nuts.”
Anyone who has read previous posts of mine will know that I come out swinging whenever therapists “accuse” me or other colleagues of promoting our work, as if it was a crime. Our field has always done self-promotion: Writing an article for a journal is promoting your work. Sitting on a panel of experts is promoting your work. Giving a free talk is promoting your practice. There is nothing wrong with self-promotion.
Unless it is without any content. The problem with self-promoblogs is that they aren’t really adding any value to the reader, they’re just an infomercial for your practice. So if the only reason you are considering blogging is because you or a coach told you you need to have a presence on the internet, please don’t. Wait until you find your passion in the work, or it will show. And if you don’t know what your passion is in your work yet, than you need to back up a few steps before gracing the blogosphere with your presence.
Presence is Personal
Successful bloggers and therapists have at least one thing in common, personal presence. People don’t want to go to a therapist who acts like a robot or has no particular style. And people don’t want to read a blog that lacks a sense that there is a human being behind it.
Look, there are a whole lot of people out there in the world who need your help. But the world doesn’t need another Jason Mihalko or Susan Giurleo or Mike Langlois, they need you. What issues, which populations motivate you the most? For me it is gamers and technology, but if I were asked to blog about eating disorders I’d run out of steam fast. Not my passion. But fortunately there are others out there for whom it is, and if you are one of them you could probably talk about eating disorders for hours on end. And if you can talk about something meaningfully for hours on end, that is a good indication that you could blog about it.
In the end, blogging and being a therapist have some common traits. You need to know yourself, or at least be far along in the process of getting to know yourself. You need to have some area of expertise, something you feel competent in. And you need to have some personal presence that makes a patient want to work with you instead of someone else, or read your posts instead of someone else’s.
True Colors, Please
Last but not least, if you want to blog I suggest you adopt an attitude of radical transparency, meaning write each post with the attitude that it will be read by everyone: colleagues, patients, Aunt Ethel, everyone. If you aren’t comfortable putting something in a blog that might be read by everyone, don’t put it in there. Because I can tell you from experience that friends, colleagues, patients, and family members who I never even told I had a blog have read mine.
Hopefully I haven’t scared any potential bloggers off. Because blogging as a therapist can be very rewarding. I have met colleagues and had opportunities that I never would have had if I didn’t blog. Blogging has helped me build my coaching practice. It has helped grow the number of public speaking engagements I have, and gotten me invited to new venues as well. Blogging has brought me new friends, new patients and new clients. It’s put me in the path of some of the most innovative thinkers and doers in our field.
Most important, blogging has helped me get out the message that we need to rethink the way we understand video games and treat the people who play them. So if you’re wondering if blogging is worthwhile, it is.
And if you have something to say, I say go for it!
If you are considering blogging and want some help focusing and getting yourself up and running, I’m offering a webinar on Wednesday, November 30th from 7:00-8:00 EST. For more info you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org