Steven Blakely, CCHt, Registered Psychotherapist
Urgent measures are required to address this crisis that affects virtually every member of society particularly our youth. A headline in Nation on June 18, 2019, describes this crisis. “Suicide among teens and young adults reaches the highest level since 2000.”
Social Media addiction (SMA) is just as addictive as drugs and alcohol. The intrusive nature of Social Media into our lives and the psychological effect and dependency cannot be overstated. It is mood-altering and offers immediate gratification while also offering the illusion of being closely connected when in fact it is isolating at an emotional level. As with any addictive relationship it takes more and more of the ‘drug’ to achieve the level needed to feel the euphoria until the cycle repeats requiring even more. I recently completed a day-long course titled “Overcome Social Media Addiction with Hypnosis” given by Don Mottin, CCH with Mottin and Johnson Institute of Hypnosis, who practices near Orlando, Florida and teaches workshops across the United States. As Don Mottin explained “According to the World Health Organization, in the year 2019, approximately 1.53 million people will die from suicide. The number related to social media is increasing every year.”
As Don Mottin further explained, “Positive interactions on social media can trigger the same kind of chemical reaction (in the brain) that is caused by gambling and recreational drugs”. Recent research he cited during the workshop indicates that an average of 2.35 hours is spent accessing social media at work every day. According to Nielsen, “the average American spends more than 11 hours per day in front of a screen. … Even children from two to five years old are spending over 26 hours each week in front of a screen or a smartphone.”
There are other causes of suicide, including increased anxiety and stress related to the Climate Disruption caused by global warming and the daily reports of the political chaos at the highest levels of our government. Other causes of death besides suicide include the “Hundreds of people die each year by taking selfies in a dangerous place, even more are injured”. Many people are injured or killed because of texting while driving or just walking across the street.
Stress and anxiety are also the result of arguments within families and between couples over what is seen on social media and are occurring with increased frequency. This can tear apart relationships and friendships based on information purported to be true but often not verifiable. All of this is creating more stress and alienation. I believe the material Don presented and his approach and techniques for solutions to the problem of SMA is something all of us can benefit from even if not certified as a hypnotherapist
One of the elements of countering SMA that can be most helpful is using the material in the context of determining what needs are being met by SMA that can be met in more healthy, productive ways particularly by using suggestions for change in behaviors and setting appropriate boundaries around time spent with social media. Encouraging social interaction in groups and one-on-one activities, for instance, is a powerful counter to the subtle isolation that occurs with SMA.
This is not just for hypnotherapists. When you are in session with a client both of you are automatically engaged in a mutual light trance of highly focused attention with a strong intention and desire to accomplish a particular goal. The techniques and the way you speak in that trance can be enhanced by studying this material and using it regardless of your modality, education, and training. You might like it so much that you could even consider adding hypnosis to your toolbox of therapeutic interventions and as a powerful enhancement to your current client sessions.
I believe that because this issue of Social Media Addiction is so endemic and deleterious to our communities and families and individuals that it is incumbent on us as mental health professionals to reach out to our communities to inform them of our availability to help them cope with this insidious and widespread problem.
Thus, it is most important for us to inform ourselves of the extent and depth of the problem by reaching out to local church leaders, social system professionals, and the legal and law enforcement professionals to determine their understanding and knowledge of local issues arising out of SMA. Further, I would like to think we could arrange to have meetings like a ‘mental health town hall’ to inform them that we are working toward providing help and solutions. I would like to think that the local social assistance agencies would also welcome an opportunity to participate.
Toward that end I am going to see if Don Mottin would be willing to come to Colorado to some of these meetings to discuss the breadth of the problem of SMA and to describe how hypnosis and therapy can help the victims of SMA to be able to meet their needs and at the same time decrease the hold SMA has over their lives.
I welcome questions and comments about this article. In addition to being a Registered Psychotherapist with DORA, I am a member of the National Guild of Hypnotherapists. I am available through the CAP website to discuss this article and answer questions.
You can reach Steven Blakely at: