Why Therapy By Facebook Is A Bad Idea

Therapy by Facebook

If you are on any of the alternative / complementary therapy self-help groups you will be familiar with ‘Therapy By Facebook’: one of the group asks for help and other group members offer their experience and suggestions.

On the face of it, the support and willingness to help from the participants of these groups is is inspiring, but is it a good thing?

The steps of ‘Therapy By Facebook’ are probably familiar to you.

Someone posts a request for help on their favourite Facebook EFT, NLP, ( insert favourite modality here) group.

Note: In this article I’m going to talk about EFT/Tapping, as it is the modality I’m most familiar with, but I’m sure the same kind of thing goes on in many Facebook groups.

It’s obvious that the person making the post is suffering and wants some way to relieve their distress. They may have read articles or seen YouTube videos of someone using EFT/Tapping to get astounding results and they hope that they can get some relief from what is bothering them.

The ‘client’ usually sums up their problem in a short post of just two or three sentences.

As soon as members of the group have read this, some of them are moved to offer whatever help they can. Each person offers a suggestion, an approach or an explanation for what they think is happening and what might help.

Typically these suggestions are also just two or three sentences long.

Typically some of these suggestions will contradict each other.

It may have taken a lot of courage for the ‘client’ to put their issue out there into the public arena. As the suggestions roll in it must be comforting to realise that so many people want to help.

But will the help that is being offered really help?

The way the problem is expressed and the way the the help is offered may make the help less helpful.

I’ll use an exaggerated example to explain.

Imagine that you have a long standing and complex medical problem but you can only communicate that problem to a doctor in a text message.

To get the doctor’s help you must sum up your condition in just two or three sentences.

You can’t see your doctor, give a history of the illness, have a physical exam, give a blood sample, have an X-ray or MRI scan.

The only thing you can do is sum up the problem in a couple of sentences and send it to the doctor.

You send your text and the doctor (who you have never met) prescribes a course of treatment based on that text.

In these circumstances how confident will you be in that course of treatment?

It gets worse.

What if your text description goes to many unknown doctors who each send their own (sometimes contradictory) diagnoses and treatment plans?

How are you going to choose the most effective treatment?

Let’s get back to ‘Therapy By Facebook’.

As the ‘client’ on the tapping group, let’s imagine that you have chosen what seems to you to be the best way forward.

You start tapping following your preferred approach.

There are three possible outcomes.

  1. It works. That’s unlikely, but it is possible that the suggestion that you chose exactly fits your problem and the problem is solved.
  2. It doesn’t work. This is the most likely outcome. On the face of it that is not too bad, but the lack of a result have unfortunate consequences;
    1. The client is discouraged – “Here is something else I tried that just doesn’t work”.
    2. The client decides that there is something wrong with EFT and abandons an approach that, if properly applied, might be helpful. (EFT works really well if properly applied).
    3. The client decides it didn’t work because there is something wrong with them and they add more to their burden of self-criticism.
  3. It works too well. EFT is a powerful technique and it is possible that while tapping on the problem the person taps into painful emotions and traumatic memories: this is quite common, since a lot of emotional distress is a consequence of trauma). This too has unfortunate consequences.
    1. Tapping into painful memories or traumas can be completely overwhelming if not handled carefully. Being re-traumatised doesn’t help.
    2. There is no one there to hold the space and keep you safe while you work through these feelings and memories.
    3. When you come through this experience you may decide that this approach is dangerous and look elsewhere. This is unfortunate because when EFT is well used it can free you from those old experiences.

What are the alternatives?

If you are looking for simple self-help then invest in a training from an experienced and competent trainer who can show you how to use these powerful techniques safely.

If you suspect that your difficulties have deep, painful and tangled roots find an experienced and competent practitioner to work with.

With a skilled practitioner:

  • you will be heard.
  • your needs and outcomes will be taken into consideration.
  • your unique situation will be explored , unpacked and processed to give you the best possible chance of resolution.
  • you can decide whether the practitioner and their approach is right for you.
  • when you work on the problem they will hold the space for you and keep you safe as you change.

This approach takes commitment, time and money.

This is unfortunate, because the people with the most challenging problems are often the least able to pay for the help to resolve them.

Sadly there is usually no quick fix … complicated problems need time and work to untangle.

If you are determined to use EFT for self-help you may find my article How To Practice Safe EFT For Better Self Help useful.

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