Are bloggers Group Psychotherapists?

This may sound like a strange question, but I think it is well worth exploring. I’ve been on the road for the past week attending two different conferences on media and journalism. One of the questions that always comes up is, “Are bloggers journalists?” It is an old question that many people are getting tired of. Blogging is a medium; websites with content posted in reverse chronological order. Bloggers may use this format for journalism, advocacy, naval gazing or a myriad of other purposes. So, on the simplest level, bloggers are not necessarily journalists, group psychotherapists, or anything else. They are simply people writing things in a specific format.

So, why am I asking this question then? Well, on my return, I found my mailbox full of all kinds of stuff to sort through including an interesting discussion on a group psychotherapy mailing list about the pros, cons and ethics of group psychotherapy online.

Like the “are bloggers journalists” question, the question about the ethics and efficacy of doing group psychotherapy is one that has been batted around ad nauseum and I’m not sure there is a lot to be gained from those discussions. Yes, online media lacks physicality; the access to nuances that we get when we perceive the body. Yes, online media provides an environment rich in opportunities for projection. Yes, there are different ways of doing therapy. Art therapy, dance therapy, Freudian, cognitive, behavioral, and so on.

Yet it is combining these questions that leads us to some interesting ideas. For example, a friend of mine has been struck by the issue of members of the armed forces returning from Iraq suffering from PTSD. How will we care for these service men and women?

As I spoke with her about this, I thought back to questions I had heard about whether the United States, as a nation, has been suffering PTSD since 9/11. Ilona was a flight attended back in 2001 and I wondered if she, or some of her fellow flight attendants suffered from PTSD after the hijackings. I posed the question for her whether or not we as a culture were using soldiers as containers for our national PTSD.

Ilona spends a lot of time blogging and it was through blogging that she was called to write a book about caring for returning soldiers. Are blogs part of our therapy to deal with national PTSD?

Then, on the group therapy mailing list, a person mentioned a country that was trying to bring together members of different tribes in an effort to resolve conflicts that have emerged. The government wanted to enlist the help of group psychotherapists to find ways towards this resolution.

Unfortunately, blogs too often end up being a place where two opposing factions, vent their spleen and little dialog occurs, there is the potential for discussions that can lead to recognizing issues and resolving them. Global Voices provides an interesting forum where discussions around the world are brought together and has the potential to be a tool for healing.

Bloggers share dreams, concerns, angers; a rich collection of feelings in a group environment that is therapeutically rich. Perhaps they aren’t being group psychotherapists. Perhaps they are participating in some loosely structure group psychotherapy.

Ultimately, bloggers are no more group psychotherapists then they are journalists. Yet just as bloggers can learn a lot from journalists, they could learn an awful lot from group psychotherapists and could help bring innovation and healing to problems that our towns, cities, states, countries and world faces.

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