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Kaluzeviciute, G. (2020). Social Media and its Impact on Therapeutic Relationships. Brit. J. Psychother., 36(2):303-320.

(2020). British Journal of Psychotherapy, 36(2):303-320

Social Media and its Impact on Therapeutic Relationships

Greta Kaluzeviciute, Ph.D.

In the current age of social media, the boundaries between the online and the offline, the personal and the professional, have become blurred and ambiguous. This poses significant challenges to the practice of psychoanalysis, which for a long time has been thought of as a technology-free and private space. This paper compares how social media impacts therapeutic relationships in the broader field of psychotherapy and in psychoanalytic psychotherapy in particular. Direct breaches in therapist privacy were found to be more frequent with non-psychoanalytic psychotherapists due to therapists' higher online presence. Psychoanalytic psychotherapists, on the other hand, generally have a lesser online presence because of different views on therapeutic anonymity from other clinical orientations. The author suggests that this leads to different forms of virtual impingements: due to the absence of psychoanalytic therapists' online presence, patients seek to re-create therapists (and, by extension, therapeutic situations) on a virtual level rather than discover something that was already ‘put out there’ by therapists. Virtual manifestations of anonymity, splitting, and solipsistic introjection processes are discussed with reference to John Suler's concept of the online disinhibition effect. Further recommendations for research on social media impact are discussed.

[This is a summary excerpt from the full text of the journal article. The full text of the document is available to journal subscribers on the publisher's website here.]

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