Social media can be a powerful tool for those of us working in the mental health, therapy and counselling fields. It helps us reach much bigger audiences, provide support and services to those who need it, build our own professional networks and generally share great content.
But, what kind of content?
Knowing what to post about on a professional social media account is difficult, particularly if you’re new to the idea or you’ve only just launched your business. And because we’re often dealing with people’s emotions, wellbeing and generally sensitive topics, this adds another layer of complexity and ethical considerations that need bearing in mind.
The good news is, the things you post don’t have to be anything polished, flashy or expensive to make. Nor will you need to post every single day to have a positive effect.
Depending on your budget, your audience and the amount of time you can dedicate to social media upkeep, there’s always a content sweet spot you’ll be able to hit. The most important things are quality and relevance of your content. Your website allows you to communicate all the core important information, but it’s your social media content that’s going to help you make a deeper connection with your audience, create trust and show people what you’re all about as a professional.
In this post we’ll talk about some of the best types of content you, as therapists and counsellors, could share on your social media channels, hopefully giving you some inspiration and helping you make that all-important connection with your (soon-to-be-growing-numbers-of) followers.
Here are 8 great social media content formats that work really well for therapists and counsellors:
1. Stories, interviews and first-person accounts
Share them as: Written stories or video interviews
2. Conversation starters
Share them as: Questions or polls
Speaking of starting active conversations, these conversations themselves make ideal content for sharing on social media. The more we, as a society, can talk about the sorts of issues commonly dealt with in the therapy and counselling world, the more we can break down that stigma and encourage more people to reach out to the professionals who can help them.
To get people talking, you need a conversation starter, and the best way to start a conversation is to ask a question. It can be a direct written question, or an interactive poll that people can vote on and add comments. This gets your followers actively thinking about how your chosen topic affects or applies to them, and prompts natural responses. All it takes is for one person to respond, and this can set the ball rolling for amazing conversations that can then encourage others to join in and share.
The idea here is to create a safe space for open discussion, whether it’s something nice and lighthearted or something sensitive that you want to encourage people to speak about. It might take some time to get momentum going with things like this, but it’s well worth it once you start seeing results. Don’t forget to use relevant hashtags if you’re doing this on Twitter, as this can help more people find your discussion.
Here’s a great example of a conversation starter from Therapists Connect on Twitter:
If you’re running a therapy or counselling service, you’ll already know what a huge step it can be for people to speak to a professional about their problems. Sometimes, seeing other people with similar problems opening up and talking about them can be the final encouragement they need to make that step.
Content such as real-life stories, interviews and first-person accounts can be among the most encouraging, compelling things you can share on your social media channels. They can help bridge that gap between you and a prospective client, helping them feel that they, too, could find the help they need.
For this to work (and to avoid running afoul of ethical issues) you would, of course, need permission from whoever’s story you are publishing. Even if you’re removing all identifiable information from the story, the person involved still needs to have provided their consent. If you have this, great!
3. Stats, facts and figures
Share them as: Simple graphics
Sharing statistics, facts and figures can help grab attention, raise awareness and provide bitesize education pieces for your audiences. These are really easy pieces of content to create and can be really powerful when there’s an important point you want to get across.
Whether it’s a short, sharp statistic you’ve seen in recent research, or whether it’s a digestible diagram, graph or interesting fact, these little pieces of content are highly shareable and great for raising awareness about important topics. You could even use the results of your conversation-starting Twitter poll as great organic data to share.
Depending on the type of information you’re sharing, this type of content can appeal both to current and potential clients (maybe it helps them realise they’re not alone, or helps them identify an issue that they didn’t realise they had), or they can help you build your reputation as a professional amongst your colleagues and across your industry.
Here’s a great example of a really simple statistical graphic shared by a mental health crisis organisation called Lifeline Aotearoa on Instagram.
Extra tip: Free design tools like Canva are great for creating simple, attractive graphics in minutes and are super easy to use.
Perhaps there’s a client who you’ve helped reach a certain milestone who might be happy to share their story of how they got there. Maybe there’s a colleague who could give an interview about a particular issue or topic you’re passionate about sharing (these posts make great content for Linkedin to help build your professional network). Or maybe you yourself have an important or inspiring story you’d like to share with colleagues or with potential future clients.
It’s all really valuable content that can help start active conversations about important topics, raise awareness about key issues and show people what you can do. Besides, stories with positive outcomes or that showcase ongoing positive progress make fantastic feel-good content for sharing far and wide.
For a bit of extra inspiration, here’s a great example of a first-person account in video format from Dr Megan Barnard on Twitter:
And here’s an example of a written-word client story shared by Harley Therapy on Facebook:
4. Links to useful resources
Share them as: Simple links with descriptive captions
You don’t always have to be the one creating the content to be able to share great things. Sometimes you stumble across something online that you feel might be really useful to potential clients or colleagues, and it’s great to share these far and wide (so long as you make it clear you’re not trying to take credit for their creation).
It could be a powerful video you’ve seen on YouTube, an insightful piece of industry research you’ve spotted on Linkedin, a great book you’ve read and think other people would find helpful, or even a really useful tip or guide you’ve seen online.
All you need to do is share a link or the relevant information about the resource, and add a caption telling your followers what it is, why you’re sharing it and who you think might find it useful.
Here’s a great example of a resource-sharing post. A link to a useful journal article shared on Twitter by counsellor Dr Mani DasGupta for the benefit of his colleagues at Staffordshire University:
5. Wellness techniques and tips
Share them as: Simple graphics, short videos or blog posts
As counsellors and therapists, you spend a lot of time giving invaluable support helping people to cope with various issues and life situations, but this help only reaches your current clients. Sharing useful, actionable tips and advice on your social media channels can reach a great deal more people – perhaps those who are struggling but haven’t yet made the step to speaking to a professional.
You could share tips on self care, mindfulness, mental health first aid, supporting others or anything else relevant to your services. Whatever it may be, these types of content are highly shareable, especially if you can present them in a visually appealing way (again, all you need is a few minutes on something like Canva for this). Sharing this content can help people you’ve never even spoken to deal with important issues in their lives, while also building your reputation as a professional in your industry.
Here’s a fantastic example of the type of content we’re talking about, shared on Instagram by Find Your Shine Therapy:
Share them as: Links to audio content
This type of content takes a little more time and effort to create, but it can be highly effective for a range of purposes. You could combine some of the other content types into podcasting, such as interviews and first-person accounts, or the wellness tips and advice we just spoke about.
For this you’ll need a decent microphone, but that’s it! Once you have that, you can record and release your content as regularly as you like – the more regular the better with these, as it means your audience can expect and look forward to each new instalment. And the fact that you’ll only need to share a link to wherever you’re posting your podcasts means you can share these on all your social media channels no problem.
Extra tip: You can upload your podcasts to a wide range of platforms (like Apple Podcasts and Spotify) for free, which helps you reach the widest possible audience. Here’s a great article with all the places you can upload to.
Not sure you have anything worthwhile to talk about? Sure you do. Podcasts can be about anything at all, whether you’re sharing advice for clients, talking about your own experiences or even just having a conversation with a colleague about important industry topics. And they don’t even have to be long – an episode can be as short as 5 minutes if you like.
Podcasting isn’t for everyone, but if you have the time to talk there’ll be people out there ready to listen.
Here’s a great example of this type of content that has been shared by Clarity Counselling on Facebook. It’s a series of 14 episodes of a podcast called Happiness Hacks by psychotherapist John Davidson, and each episode centres around a different tip for happiness:
7. Events and Seminars/Webinars
Share them as: Links or descriptive posts
Sharing links for relevant events, meetups, seminars and webinars is a great way to keep your social media feeds active and current. Whether you’re arranging the events yourself (always a great thing to do) or whether you just want to point your followers in the direction of an event they might benefit from, it’s a worthwhile thing to use your social channels for.
Maybe you’re organising a meetup for clients or colleagues, or maybe you’ve heard about an upcoming event that would be just perfect for your followers – whatever it is, it’s really easy to share. All you need is a link to the event information (or, if there isn’t one, all the relevant details about the event itself) and you’re all set to post.
We’ve said this works best for Twitter, Facebook and Linkedin (Linkedin is especially ideal for finding and sharing professional events in your industry), but you can also raise awareness for things like this on Instagram, it’s just harder to share links here as you can only put one link at a time in your bio.
Make sure you shout about what the event is and why it might be great for your followers in your captions and descriptions to ensure maximum effectiveness with these posts.
Here’s a great example of industry event sharing on Twitter by Dr Terry Hanley, a counselling and psychology academic:
8. Community posts and advocacy
Share them as: Lists of accounts to follow, or written-word posts
As this industry is so heavily based on human connections, sharing and community building, it makes absolute sense to use our therapy and counselling social media channels to advocate for others in our industry. Community and advocacy posts are great to share; they make us feel good when we post them, they help our colleagues and other worthy causes generate a bigger following, and they help people discover new and helpful sources of online support. They also help you strengthen your own professional network and build positive, powerful relationships with others in your field.
Posts like these can be as simple as a #FollowFriday post (ideal for informal community spirit on Twitter or Instagram) or they can be in-depth professional advocacy posts for a particular individual or organisation you feel passionately about (great for Linkedin). Whatever and whoever you’re shouting about, it’s always great to share the love and help your wider community find new connections.
Here’s a great example of a more informal community post on Twitter from Dr Ashley Perkins, founder of mental diseases support network, We Matter Too Inc.
We hope this has been helpful in getting you started with some great therapy and counselling social media content. And, if there are any we’ve missed, by all means get in touch and share your ideas!