Maintaining Equilibrium: Finding Our Way Therapeutically in a Digitally Disrupted Marketplace

Matthew Berler, Pace University


The internet, social media, and digital technologies play an increasingly pervasive role in how people relate and communicate, access and consume information in our society. This grounded theory study explores the experiences of 27 psychodynamic psychotherapists and the impact that these digital technologies have on identity development. A tentative grounded theory emerged, suggesting that for the field of psychotherapy, digital technologies like the Internet and online social media are operating as a marketplace disruptor, uprooting certain foundations of psychotherapy and requiring therapists to reconceptualize and redefine how psychotherapy operates. Pressures to curate personal and professional digital identities that can be searched by prospective patients have resulted in unprecedented difficulties creating space between selves and challenged notions of privacy. Meanwhile, the internet provides patients with unfettered access to whatever information is available online. To this end, self-disclosure could be considered the "product" that has been most fundamentally altered by this disrupted market, justifying the need to conceptualize digital self-disclosures as a new category of therapeutic self-disclosure. Findings suggest that in an effort to regain footing and establish equilibrium in a digitally disrupted market, therapists make decisions that at times conflict with core values of psychotherapy — often with limited awareness. This study underscores the importance of taking broad ranging, proactive steps to respond to this marketplace disruption. It offers suggestions related to running training programs, for established psychotherapists to confront generational gaps in practice and in supervision, and for continued areas of research.

Subject Area

Psychology|Social psychology

Recommended Citation

Berler, Matthew, "Maintaining Equilibrium: Finding Our Way Therapeutically in a Digitally Disrupted Marketplace" (2019). ETD Collection for Pace University. AAI27794085.



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