Ariel Axelrod, LMHC

Querying the Blog

For years, the generally accepted answer to the question: “Should a psychotherapist have a social media presence?” was No. Yet, the mental health profession has responded otherwise by voting with its collective keyboard: Therapists, agencies, schools, and scholars hold professional accounts on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok/KuaiShou, and more.

Our profession as a whole is often lampooned for questioning everything, but we rarely query the significance of the internet as a medium, especially in how we use it and how we are used by it.

Maybe this incuriosity is spurred by growing discrepancies between the ethics guidelines taught in school and the reality of how healthcare businesses operate and compete. The gap in expected behavior by healthcare providers and business owners creates enough dissonance that I presume many solo and group practices fear a reconciliation of the two will hamstring the profession, while questionable purveyors of online therapy  move fast and break things.

There are exceptions to this collective blind spot: Sherry Turkle, Kimberley Young, and Mary Aiken, but even among the specialist few, blogs receive little if any scrutiny. Blogs a a vestigial public soapbox, don’t appear to pose the same hazards as social media, contributing to a grandfathered-in status.

Today’s blogs are usually intended to drive traffic or income via third-party advertising, competing in SEO rankings, or advertising posing as unbiased content. Who doesn’t know the experience of coming to the end of a purportedly unbiased essay or review, only to realize it was actually a sales pitch.

Any blog on a professional website should be approached as a marketing tool, even if it never sells or suggests a product or service. Ergo, this blog (yes, this one) is a marketing tool. But a good blog can still encourage thinking and action that improve the well being and welfare of readers and their communities. The fundament for this is not a lack of secondary motives, but rather clarity about them.