Writers, Therapists, HUMANS of Instagram

Lately I’ve found myself reflecting on how I use Instagram. It can be such a beautiful tool for connection, can’t it? And I am deeply grateful for the doors it has opened in my life. Pragmatically, it is also a necessary platform for many of us in our work.

There’s been something of a debate recently, too, about how therapists are using Instagram. The role of social media in destigmatising therapy and mental health difficulties has been quite rightly celebrated, as has the humanising of therapists ourselves. Important questions have also been raised about the ethics and boundaries around clinical governance on the platform, and the limitations of offering advice to those whose circumstances we cannot know and for whom we don’t hold responsibility.

In this context, it feels important to say something about the way I post online.

As a therapist I prefer a more guided discovery rather than didactic style in my work. By its very nature this is bespoke, adapting the tools and interventions to an individual’s own current difficulties, circumstances, history and goals. Clearly this doesn’t easily lend itself to bite-sized social media posts, which are designed for broader and often anonymous consumption, and for which a more how-to, off the shelf approach often works better – certainly, it seems, from an engagement perspective. I could post in this more didactic way, but I choose not to. Indeed, I am also clear that my Instagram feed is not therapy.

As a writer, too, my instincts are to dive deep into human stories for the unique jewels each of those stories has to offer. Metaphor often drives this approach. And emotion is very much at the core. My primary motivation is always to keep this as authentic as possible – I want my words to have heartbeats in a way that resonates with the reader’s own.

In order to honour these values as both writer and therapist, therefore, my posts tend to work from within the material of my own lived stories. This is not because I want to generalise from my own experience, as this can be deeply unhelpful, but to normalise and contextualise the human struggle we all engage in, daily.

And because I am indeed human, I don’t always get this right. My hope, however, is that it is real.