The Therapy Beat


The Therapy Beat

The TikTok Therapist: Goodbye, Blank Slate

By Chris Lyford

July/August 2021


Before 2020, Micheline Maalouf had never dreamed of having a million anything, let alone that many followers on social media. After all, she wasn’t famous. Or an expert in her field, having just finished graduate school to become a therapist three years earlier. And with her experience in self-promotion amounting to a handful of goofy home movies made back in the ’90s and the occasional inspirational quote on Instagram, she wasn’t exactly a marketing savant, either.

But that January, following a friend’s casual suggestion, she signed up for an account on TikTok—a social media platform featuring short video clips—and threw together a quick, 15-second recording. In it, Maalouf sits in her office, wrapped in a cardigan, nodding intently as if listening to a client. Suddenly, she tosses her notebook aside and jumps from her seat, fists pumping in the air as words appear across the screen: When my client finally has a breakthrough during a therapy session. Maalouf raises both arms triumphantly, dances on her sofa chair, and spins in circles as glitter rains down.

By the time she woke up the next morning, the video had accumulated tens of thousands of views. Her inbox on TikTok was overflowing with exuberant messages. People wanted more. They wanted to know what it was really like to be a…

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