Can Community and Openness De-Stigmatize Therapy?
This is Post 2/100 in my 100 posts in 100 days series.
[image by tboard]
Yesterday I asked the question, Is There a Therapy Stigma? If you haven’t had a chance to answer that question…please take a moment to do so, as I’m interested in your opinion on this important subject.
One of the things that has been on my mind for the last couple of years is the question: Can the stigma be taken out of therapy if there was more openness and transparency in the process, rather than anonymity and secretness?
I have received various feedback on this subject…usually about 50/50. There are many who hold to the more traditional methods of anonymity and secretiveness in the therapy process (note: I’m not talking about client confidentiality here–obviously that is super important and must be upheld). While many, especially those raised in the internet age, are more prone to see the necessity of a more open therapeutic process. Wherever you fall on this question, I think the reality is that many things are changing in the field of therapy…and so it’s something we should be thinking about.
Two months ago I came across an interesting conference that I blogged about, Taking the Stigma Out of Mental Health with the Help of Social Media. I won’t spend this post talking about social media (because I will devote plenty of time to that soon), but I do want to mention some of the questions they were asking at the Mental Health Camp–a Conference about Mental Health and Social Media. The specific interest of the camp was “Erasing Stigma and Exploring Possibilities with Social Media.” And some of the questions they were asking were as follows:
* How can blogging help decrease the stigma of mental health?
* How does someone with a mental illness navigate the waters of anonymity in the transparent world of social media?
* How is the journaling that happens in blogging similar to or different from journaling for healing?
* How can social media participants with mental health issues help each other?
What’s interesting to me is that they were not only asking these questions, but they were getting at the idea that openness in mental health can de-stigmatize it. And more importantly, as we live more and more in an open society, especially with our reliance upon the internet…will therapy head more in that direction?
So I have been pondering various ideas in regards to my practice. And just a few questions come to mind that you might have some thoughts on.
What would it look like to have an office in a more public, highly visible and busy area? Say for example, in an office above retail shopping, or next to a coffee shop. Would you be attracted to that, or is that to open for you?
Do you think therapy should remain more anonymous and secretive?
If you were to see a therapist, would you keep it confidential, or is it something you would share with some people?
Do you think that therapy can be more beneficial if the client has a community of supportive people that are aware of the therapeutic process, and are able to lend support in and out of the office?