026 – Using Social Media as a Counsellor – The Oedipus Complex – Paid Media – Personal Development Groups

CT Ep 26

026 – Using Social Media as a Counsellor – The Oedipus Complex – Paid Media – Personal Development Groups

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In episode 26 of the Counselling Tutor Podcast, Rory Lees-Oakes and Ken Kelly discuss your personal use of social media as a counsellor. ‘Theory with Rory’ examines the Oedipus complex, and the final episode of ‘Person-Centred Business’ looks at paid media (advertising). Last, the presenters discuss personal development (PD) groups.

Using Social Media as a Counsellor

Ken and Rory discuss how careful we must be as counsellors about what and how much we show of ourselves on social media, e.g. Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Whatever we write there may be recorded for ever – even if you subsequently delete a post, it could already have been captured as a screenshot.

Nowadays, potential employers often look at job applicants’ social media profiles as part of assessing their suitability, as do potential clients seeking a private-practice therapist. Counselling is a profession, and we are expected to behave in a professional manner, reflecting the good standing of the role.


The Oedipus Complex

This is a key part of Sigmund Freud’s ideas on child development. He first set out this concept in his book The Interpretation of Dreams. It is based on the Greek myth of Oedipus, told in a trilogy of plays by Sophocles. Tragic hero Oedipus was said to have accidentally killed his father and married his mother, so bringing disaster to his city and family.

According to Freud, boys aged three to five years develop a sexual desire for their mothers and see their fathers as rivals for the mothers’ attention. Freud terms this the phallic stage, and believes it is important in developing sexual identity. These days, the Oedipus conflict may seem uncomfortable and confusing to us, but we may nonetheless be able to spot some elements of truth in it.

For example, we might hear a young boy say, “I’m going to marry Mummy when I grow up.” And many youngsters like to sleep between their parents in bed, so literally coming between them. In another example, some adult women may feel they are expected to mother their male partners.

It is important to remember that Freud lived in very different times, when gender roles were rigidly enforced. Nowadays, mother figures are not always female, and father figures are not always male. In fact, Carl Jung, who worked with Freud, claimed that there is a similar relationship between young girls and their fathers; he called this the Electra complex.

Paid Media

Podcasts 24 and 25 described how to build a website. To drive traffic to your website, it can be useful to use paid media (i.e. any online advertising that you pay for to bring in enquiries). Common examples of this include:

  • Facebook adverts – these target people of certain profiles, also using their browsing history. Ken feels this type of advertising can be quite invasive, as other people might see the person’s profile and so find out that the person has been looking for counselling.
  • Google AdWords ­(pay-per-click adverts) – if you do a Google search, the first few results that appear will be paid-for adverts (shown by ‘Ad’ appearing to the left of the website address in the search-results list). If you advertise using Google AdWords, you specify the relevant keywords, and then you are charged each time someone clicks on your listing.
  • Entries in counselling directories – you tend to pay a yearly fee to appear in these.

Ken provides the following top tips on using paid media:

  • As you’ll have a limited number of words to promote your service, hone your elevator pitch.
  • Be specific in the geographical area you target (thinking of how far people might reasonably be willing to travel to get to you) – this is particularly important in Google AdWords, where you might otherwise be paying for clicks by people who are too far away to use your service.
  • Make sure the ‘landing page’ on your website (i.e. the page where the link you provide goes to – you can choose which page this is) is an effective one – see podcast 24.
  • Monitor your return on investment (ROI) – that is, whether what you have paid for advertising is effective. For example, if you pay £10 to advertise, how much money comes in as a result of people responding to this advert?

ROI can be checked using Google Analytics, but this is quite technically complicated. Instead, it is easier simply to ask people who make enquiries: ‘How did you find me?’


Personal Development Groups

PD groups (sometimes known as ‘process groups’) are a core part of counselling training, complementing the input on theory and skills by providing a safe space for developing self-awareness. There, you can look at changes you’re going through, find the courage to explore them, and get others’ views.

PD groups can vary greatly from meeting to meeting, depending on the members present and what is being discussed. They can be very challenging, but also very enriching. They offer an opportunity both to increase self-awareness and to practise empathic listening.


Links and Resources

The Interpretation of Dreams by Sigmund Freud (first published in 1900; also published by Wordsworth in 1997, as well as being available as a free e-book)

Counselling Study Resource

Counselling Tutor Facebook group

Counselling Tutor website