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Wednesday
Jul032019

Why people are turning to Instagram for therapy, mental health needs

Anatoliy Sizov/iStock(NEW YORK) -- Therapy could look a little different in the modern age and could even mean scrolling through Instagram rather than sitting in an office.

Therapists like Lisa A. Olivera, who was featured in The New York Times and has over 180,000 followers on Instagram, has seen a shift taking place in her field.

"There definitely is a revolution happening in therapy," Olivera, 33, told ABC News. "It's becoming more open and accessible -- people are realizing they need to talk about these things and there's no shame in doing that."

It’s estimated that nearly one in five adults have some form of mental illness, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. Yet less than half receive mental health services.

Olivera, who started her Instagram account in 2017, said she went online to share her experiences on a larger scale.

"I was realizing how many people wanted access to this information and how many people wanted to explore themselves," she explained.

Therapy has moved online with websites and apps like Talkspace and Better Help, but Instagram could be another new frontier.

The American Psychological Association has been working on developing guidelines for its members and for social media.

Lynn Bufka, the associate executive director for practice, research and policy at the APA, said she isn’t sure what to make of the idea.

"I don't know that I would call therapists on Instagram as necessarily providing care," Bufka said. "Therapy is when you have an ongoing health professional relationship with an individual."

Olivera has a disclaimer on her page that she is not providing individualized therapy and has a list of resources for people seeking help.

"While I am not providing therapy for them I think the tools, resource, support and community," Olivera explained. "Everything I share is maybe just as important as therapy because it is something they can access all the time on their own time and based on whatever they are going through."

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