How To Use Pinterest Like a Therapist

Pinterest is a free website where users can upload images or save images from the web. Those images once saved become pins and user pins are then saved to pinboards. These boards offer users an opportunity to sort and manage their pins into different categories and sub categories. Imagine cutting up images from magazines and newspapers and using a thumbtack to pin them to a cork board, except it is online. Honestly, it is pretty hard to explain...but pretty simple to understand once you interface with it for a few minutes. If you aren't familiar, recommend you mosey on over to get a feel for it before you continue reading here. 


My friend, Melissa, introduced me to Pinterest at a bar in San Francisco,  way back in 2010. I remember scrolling through her profile and immediately feeling like this was the social media outlet I had been waiting for.  I have been an avid "pinner" ever since. I have stayed up late many a night scrolling through the artwork of ancient masters or imagining my perfect kitchen. For many people pinning is a great way to start a project, design a wardrobe, or collect inspirational quotes. It offers the thrill of shopping with none of the price (except the price of time spent in front of a screen of course). 

The "PinterestFail" has entered into our vernacular over these past few years. If you want a good laugh, check out the website dedicated to the feeling/ phenomenon... 

It should also be noted that approximately 70% of Pinterest users are women. It is most likely that a statistic like that drastically impacts the content of the site. There is more story about that than I can go in to here, but if you are a dork about those kinds of things (be proud), here ya go down that rabbit hole

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In my many years as a pinner,  I have used Pinterest in the traditional ways. I have boards for our dream master suite addition that we will never do, a board with inspiration for my private practice therapy marketing design, and of course a board for all the recipes I would cook if I did or could cook. These are what I lovingly call my "projection" boards or my "waiting to fail" boards because I will never live up to their ideals. 

But that isn't the only way I use Pinterest, and if it was I think my love affair with the site would have died out about four years ago. I also keep "reflection" boards. A reflection board is a collection of images, quotes or videos that reflect upon an experience or emotional state.

Reflection boards help me gain insight on the way I am feeling, what I need, what feels healthy to me, or what I wish was true.

I have a board called "Spirit" where I place images that remind me of my connectedness to the divine. My (private) "Sexy" board helps me connect with my playfulness and sexuality, something I am always struggling to get a better understanding of. Another one called "Life in Austin" is where I pinned images that spoke to me of how disoriented and lonely I felt when I first moved to Austin from San Francisco, now it holds camping spots and hip restaurants to try. 

My Pinterest reflection boards are like mirrors. When times are tough they can help me get a better grasp on who I am, what I like, and what it feels like to be living my life. I can look back to review and learn from them the way I do from my journals. Sometimes the very act of making them is therapeutic.  

For example, some of you may know that my dear father passed away a little over two years ago. Well, when we received his terminal diagnosis in the winter of 2012 I immediately started a board that I titled "Dealing With". This board is a collection of images and words gathered over literal years of my life focused on the way grief and sorrow feel to me. Sometimes when I have felt overwhelmed by my grief I open up Pinterest. I drift in and out of images searching based on the feelings I am having and when an image or phrase pops up that some how resonates, I capture it. Like a butterfly in my net, it is added to my collection. Slowly I start to feel better, to understand my grief in a new way. I can see it. It is outside of me, on the board and being dealt with. 

Multiple psychological theories advocate that self-reflection and a shift in perspective is imperative in the healing of psychological wounds. This is done in therapy by the reflection provided by a trained and licensed therapist who can gently guide a client towards more introspection. Therapy works and you should try it.

If you are experiencing psychological overwhelm, please seek out a caring mental health professional. It isn't an easy step to take but it can make a huge difference in your life. Maybe prepare a Pinterest board or two to your first session. If it is difficult to tell your therapist exactly how you feel (or want to feel) you could try to show them. I advocate that it helps the therapeutic process unfold to have images, quotes, and ideas to get the conversation started. 

OR If you are mostly well and looking for some cheap introspection, maybe try Pinterest? How can you make a board that captures your daily grind, your relationship style, or your childhood experiences? Search key terms that feel authentic and see what art, quotes, or stories resonate with you. 


Oh, also check out the PassageWay Arts Pinterest page with ritual ideas and boards such as; "Life Transitions", "Arts Experience", and "Emotional Intelligence". 

Pin away...