In today’s world of smartphones and public Wi-Fi, social media has become a large part of many people’s lives. We have come to use it to keep in touch with friends and family. We update them about our day by sending messages and posting photos.
Others have also come to use it as a source of news, albeit dangerously, as fake news is also rampant. We find out almost instantly about celebrity feuds, weather updates and presidential blunders on Facebook and Twitter.
However, one aspect that many may not notice is that social media has become an avenue for expressive therapy.
What Is Expressive Therapy?
Expressive therapy refers to the use of different forms of art in order for a person to express their feelings and their creativity. In this way, therapists are able to help convey emotions and issues they may have and then be able to understand them.
“Expressive artistic activities have a useful role in psychiatric rehabilitation as leisure and occupational skills,” said William Spaulding, PhD.
Expressive therapy emphasizes the process of creating, rather than whatever the end result is. It can also come in many forms: visual art, dance, music, drama, and writing. A person can focus on one or combine different forms in order to express themselves.
“I see this as part of a whole-person approach to therapy,” said Ilene Serlin, PhD, a registered dance therapist. “I think a collaborative approach to health care is essential, and creative arts therapy is part of that. We need to step outside our niches.”
What Role Does Social Media Play
Social media serves as an avenue for people to post freely. We can post about our pets, or our child’s dance recital, or about our recent engagement. We can talk about our disapproval of a local politician’s opinions. We can review a newly-opened restaurant. The ideas are endless.
However, most of what we post have some emotional connection. We wouldn’t post about something if it didn’t mean anything to us in some way, right? It’s through our posts that we get to express even our smallest opinions and emotions on specific matters. Through this, we are able to convey the feelings we have.
Additionally, social media not only lets us express ourselves, but it also keeps us connected. This is related to another form of therapy called talk therapy. This is where people talk out their issues and concerns with other people to help them come to terms with their personal issues. With talk therapy, people can also come up with solutions or ways to deal with their problems.
How Does This Become Therapeutic?
Social media can become therapeutic in the sense that it allows much room for self-expression and social interaction. Imagine feeling extremely anxious. With the use of social media, one can turn to a blog as a journal, writing about their concerns. By writing down one’s thoughts, it makes it clearer to the person what they should be focusing on. They can then try to come up with ways to solve their worries.
“[W]riting helped patients get better, and also kept them from getting worse,” said Joshua Smyth, PhD. “By writing, you put some structure and organization to those anxious feelings.”
At the same time, one can seek other people to talk to. This helps lessen the feeling of having to shoulder your problems alone and keep them to yourself. Others can now help you understand and deal with your feelings. They can also help to find solutions for your concerns.
With all this taken into consideration, it’s important to be aware of how social media affects you. While it can serve as a channel for therapy and healing, it can also be destructive when not used properly.