I now regularly use FaceBook and Google Earth with clients usually as a home work exercise. When ever I hear an angry client say they are going to cut up and burn all the photographs of their ex-partner, I usually counsel them to save at least a couple. Such photographs can be used in a therapeutic way later on.
As I have said before I have always used photographs in therapy with clients. They can be most helpful therapeutically. With the proliferation of the internet I now use FaceBook and Google Earth (along with blogs, websites, linkedin, YouTube, TrueLocal and all the other networking sites) almost on a daily basis.
For homework I may suggest a client does a search on FaceBook for a person they have been discussing or suggest they search on Google Earth for a particular place or location. This can form the same therapeutic function as suggesting the client to get some photographs they may have of a person or a place that is psychologically important for them.
These can serve a number of therapeutic functions. Whenever a client says, “I am never going to see him again”, the first thing they need to do is see the person again. One way to do that is through a FaceBook search. Even if the search comes up with nothing, therapeutic gain has been achieved. The person has actively set out to find the feared or disliked other by the very act of doing the search and thus there is psychological impact on their Child ego state.
Why is there a psychological gain? In Gestalt terms it brings the issue to the foreground of the psyche. It makes the person or place front and centre in the persons psychology. Over time people will unconsciously neatly pack away the painful person, event or relationship into a safe place in the psyche. By searching for them and maybe finding them on FaceBook or seeing the place on Google Earth that painful person, event or relationship is unpacked from the psyche and comes to the fore front of the mind.
When this is done the personality is destabilised and the person is primed for psychological change. They are placed into a frame of mind where psychological change is more likely to occur. I have discussed this on YouTube before.
By searching for the person, maybe seeing their picture and even talking to them the Child ego state is destabilised and thus ready for change. By seeing the place (house) where the abuse occurred the Child ego state is destabilised and ready for change.
Secondly, when an event occurs, over time the Adult ego state memory of it fades. When that happens the Child ego state will start to fill in the gaps, but the person will perceive these as Adult facts not Child ego states ‘fill ins’. As the Child ego state fills in the gaps it will structure the memory of the person or event such that it fits the life script and thus problems are solidified by a past memory that isn't even true at least to some degree. FaceBook and Google Earth can allow for an Adult ego state update.
Say the person was bullied by someone at high school. That bully may be remembered 20 years later as a big and overpowering person. To be seen years later on FaceBook the new Adult facts obtained can significantly reduce the Child ego state memory of the over powering person they were.
A person involved in a car accident at a particular intersection. Since then they avoid that intersection by driving other ways to get home. Google Earth is a good way to go and see that intersection again. Thus FaceBook and Google Earth have direct therapeutic uses in the trauma debriefing process.
Related to this it can help in doing goodbye work. In working with a recent client it became apparent that she still had a significant attachment (and love) to the first real love of her life. A teenage 3 year relationship that was semi abusive, where she fell deeply in love with him. In the past I would normally suggest she does a ‘drive by’. That is go and drive by the house where he now lives. However in this instance she did a FaceBook search, found him and became his FaceBook friend.
She saw some old photos that he had on his FaceBook and saw him as he is now. The Child ego state fill ins of her memory were dissolved. After a number of discussions with him she came back to therapy and said, “How did I ever fall in love with him!”. Combining this with 2 chair regressive goodbye work in therapy and that chapter in her life was quickly closed. The attachment was dissolved and she was this more able to attach with her current partner.