Should Therapists Blog?

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.

Vent-blogging

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.”

Self-promoblogs

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 mike@mikelanglois.com

Comments

  1. Thank you Mike! You may be saving us from the pain of watching someone alienate their audience with inappropriate personal disclosures, hollow shout-outs about their book/practice/etc, and other unfortunate events.

  2. I would LOVE to see therapists blog about treatments for anxiety, depression, parenting, Alzheimer’s, children with special needs, coping with the holiday blues, eating disorders (blogs on anorexia, bulimia, some just for women, some just for men, some just for parents of kids with ED), coping with bipolar disorder, coping with chronic illness, substance abuse recovery, etc, etc, etc.
    There are so many things to blog about. So much need for that information. So many ways to give to a community AND build a thriving practice!!
    My blog, like you say, has attracted clients, paid speaking opportunities, contracts with large organizations to consult. There is no downside to blogging if we keep it professional and focused. No need to self-promote (and never vent in public, please). The useful content promotes you perfectly. Would love to see more blogs…so please go forth and write…I have people to refer to your blog and expertise at this very moment.

    • Mike Langlois, LICSW says:

      Susan, I hope that some of the people out there who have any of the passions you’ve listed look at your list. There are so many topics left out there that need to be blogged.

  3. Great post – thank you for reassuring me that I made the right decision to start blogging. I had been concerned about blogging as a therapist until recently when I encountered some true clarity on what my purpose would be…having that clarity made all the difference and gave me the confidence to go for it! While my focus is not on any particular disorder, I am currently tailoring my blog towards inspiring people to live healthier & happier through a body, mind, & spirit approach. Thank you, Mike AND Susan for all of your encouragement to step outside the box as the world evolves!

    • Mike Langlois, LICSW says:

      Barbara, you are very welcome, I think the box we’ve been encouraged to put ourself in is too small. AND I don’t think our patients fit in it either…

  4. Hi Mike. Glad you are writing about gaming. At this point there isn’t much out there for clinicians about this growing problem. I am referring to the people who overdo it. This is coming up more and more in my practice, a spouse complaining about the partner always having their head buried in their phone or computer, the teenager who comes home from school and immediately goes to gaming as the activity for the rest of the day, the father who gets so involved in computer games that he dismisses his childrens’ entreaties for some attention. These are real presentations we see in practice and we all need to learn how to help with this.
    Liked the above post. I am coming up on my 3rd anniversary on my blog, A Therapist’s Thoughts. My blog definitely reflects my presence; I think it’s because I’ve been a therapist for such a long time. I have a lot of fun with blogging as I experience it as a creative endeavor. I write mostly in my professional voice. However, what my readers keep clamoring for is posts that are more personal (personal to me, that is), more self-disclosure; they seem to want the backstory. So, I am in the reverse direction of what you recommended above in that, I have begun adding in a few personal stories when previously, all of my posts were about psychology and psychotherapy…
    My original idea and motivation for beginning the blog was to make available, to people who might not have access to a private practice therapy experience, what that process might be like, to get a little bit of it, through the internet.

  5. Good article with many points that I agree with. I started a blog late last year, and it has been beneficial, but I took a “learn as you go” approach. Wish I would have come across this then! I agree that presence is an important aspect of blogging, and also a benefit of it as well. I also agree that you need to be congruent with who you are, but in a way that is professional and respectful of multiple viewpoints.

  6. This article has been helpful to me as it relates to me considering starting my own blog. I have been thinking of how to best create a blog that allows people to get to know me and my perspectives. I am a Tucson Therapist, who is working to provide therapy services primarily to men in the Tucson area. This blogging stuff is still new to me though, so I’m not quite comfortable with it yet.

  7. Elizabeth M. Green, PhD says:

    I’m just thinking about starting a blog and really know little to nothing about the bloggers’ world. My areas of work have been with people with DID (MPD), depression, eating disorders and leading a life of overall wellness. Right now, I am closing down my private practice, but still want to remain active in the helping profession.
    What I have read above is encouraging and I will further my exploration into starting a Blog. Any ideas or suggestions are welcome.

    Thanks so much!

    • Mike Langlois, LICSW says:

      Elizabeth, thanks for the compliment! I am planning on doing a workshop for therapists on blogging later this Spring, so check back for details!

  8. Thank you for your insight and advice. Though you offer caution, your words were mostly affirming and suggestive of the positive ways a therapist can use a blog. Makes me more excited that I’ve joined the realm of therapist/writer/bloggers.

  9. Glad I stumbled upon this blog! Thank you so much for this, Mike! Just exactly what I need! I’m a BS Physical Therapy student and I have a passion for writing. At first, some people didn’t actually approve of me being a fashion blogger. They kept on asking me what I really wanted, to be a therapist or to be a blogger. I don’t know why they never understand that maybe I can be both. Blogging is like my breathing space from all the stressful stuffs of our field. But now, people are starting to support me because they can see that I’m gaining from it. Shops are starting to sponsor my blog 🙂 Happy to know that I’m not alone! 🙂

  10. Great post Mike. I have just linked out to this post. Keep up the great work 🙂 Paul

  11. Thank you so much for posting this. I am still learning about the proper use of social media as a therapist and have started a blog that is meant to be somewhat personal (taking into consideration everything you outlined above) but informative.

    Its a tough balance. But I am trying to be as mindful as possible of my audience and clients. I found your post while googling “should a therapist blog”.

  12. Hi Mike–thanks so much for sharing your thoughts. I have a private psychotherapy and life coaching practice and am just beginning to explore the idea of blogging. I love to write and have been concerned that my personal “voice” might be inappropriate given my profession. I wasn’t sure that I could comfortably write any other way and feel more comfortable reading your post and the comments that followed.

  13. Hi Mike,
    I am a graduate student pursuing my degree in Counseling and Guidance where I will be able to work in a school setting and pursue my LPCC licence. I have always wanted to blog even before deciding to go back to school for counseling. But now I feel that I would have more of an ethical obligation to my readers. I really appreciate your article. I do not consider myself and expert in anything at this point other then what I have experienced in my own journey of self-discovery. Do you have any specific suggestions for a student who wants to blog and will begin doing field work soon? Some of my interests include body image, media, health (mind, body, and soul), and I am a Christian with lots of spiritual writings. Thank you for any suggestions.
    Heather Basye

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