‘It’s All About Trying to Be Relatable’: Counsellor RelatB19ability and Personal Experiences of Social Media When Supporting Young People

  • Ella White (Speaker)
  • Josephine Chen-Wilson (Author)

Activity: Academic Talks or PresentationsConference Presentation


Background and Aims
Although there is a small area of research exploring how mental health practitioners can support young people with the impacts of social media on their mental health, no study has explored practitioner’s own relationship with social media. This novel study aimed to understand counsellor’s own relationship with social media, and any similarities or differences they identified compared to their client’s relationship with social media.
Counsellors who worked with young people aged 16-25 were recruited and interviewed. A thematic analysis of the interviews identified three main themes.
The first theme ‘It’s Not Based on Reality’ related to counsellors comparing themselves to the unrealistic highlight reel depicted on social media in the same
way as young people they supported. The second theme ‘All Of a Sudden I’m on Facebook’ related to the counsellor’s obsessive use of social media; the
counsellors believed they were better able than their young clients to recognise when social media impacted their mood and to instigate boundaries by
coming offline. The third theme ‘It’s All About Trying to Be Relatable’ regarded counsellors feeling their own social media use benefited their practice by
enabling them to better understand and empathise with clients.
Conclusion and Implications
Despite parallels in social media use identified in the themes between counsellors and young people, counsellors believed their experiences of social media differed to their clients. This study provides implications for counsellor training when working with young people and the importance of counsellors’ self-care when using social media.
Period22 Sept 202223 Sept 2022
Event titleBPS Cyberpsychology Annual Conference 2022
Event typeConference
LocationBrighton, United KingdomShow on map
Degree of RecognitionNational


  • mental health
  • social media
  • Young People
  • counselling
  • relatability