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Sex & Relationships

Good Influence & Mental Health Spotlight: Meet Todd Baratz, the sex and relationship counsellor

Think of your closest long-term friend, the one who you can literally tell every embarrassing thought, every f*ck up, and the tough love that would be a faux pas to newer friends – then give them an LMHC qualification, (Licensed Mental Health Counsellor,) and boom, Todd’s your agony uncle.

Todd Baratz aka the aptly self-named @yourdiagnonsense is shaking up the world of therapy one brutally honest post at a time. How is he so different we hear you ask, well this wonderful, proud queer man is setting new precedents for how we speak to one another when we give advice regarding mental health and personal issues. Todd communicates in a way which makes it okay to feel the many different things we all go through, which unfortunately people tend to name and shame one another for with common phrases and terms, without realising.
He takes commonly used pieces of advice and tears them apart for the contradictions that they are, in the simplest way.

Here are a few of our favourite attention-grabbing home truth headlines posted by Baratz:

“If you want your relationships to change, you will have to be the one to change.”

“Opinions not to push on others.”

“It’s okay to have sex on the first date, OR wait.”

These are the kinds of positive, balanced, real-life messages that encourage us to adore and endure one another, rather than to pass judgment and dish out harmful ‘advice.’ HOI is all for team Todd and we want to spread his messages, so we are proud to welcome Todd to our Good Influence collection.

We had a quick-fire Q&A with the man himself to give you a little more insight into his beautiful mind, so get yourself acquainted and follow his page @yourdiagnonsense.
You’ll be using his lines left, right and centre every time a friend or foe needs a word of advice.

1.) How has social media impacted your work as a therapist, both for the better, and for the worse?

I started my account for my own entertainment – a creative outlet. And now it’s a central part of my day-to-day work. As a therapist, social media has not changed how I work with clients in session. In terms of my clinical work, I learn the most from reading, lectures, and continuing education. As a person who is a therapist, being on social media has personally changed my life. I never had an Instagram and I only started my current page @yourdiagnonsense for my own enjoyment – a creative outlet. Now, it’s part of my daily routine. It’s helpful to hear from people from all over the world – I can see the patterns of concern and struggle. I find this fascinating

2.) What are your thoughts on the trending self-help posts, which promote the ‘labeling’ of various emotional issues, into diagnostic terms such as “Attachment styles” in romance, and “Self-Love” in personal growth, etc?

Everything has strengths and limitations. My knee-jerk reaction is to say – “I don’t like labels.” But I realize that many people in fact do find solace in a label. I personally don’t like them and have never felt a need or utility to use them in my work as a therapist. At the end of the day, these are theories. We don’t live our life in a lab and no theory will ever fully be able to capture the nuance of our daily life. These theories are all almost predominantly psychological. Psychological theories tend to ignore the cultural influences that shape our lives (oppression, inequality, income disparity, etc). To me, we can’t fully understand ourselves until we also have an understanding of all the variables that shape our lives. So sure, understanding your attachment style is interesting but it’s one ingredient. I worry that folks internalize some of these theories as crucial and then over-apply and overanalyse it to the point where they miss a lot about themselves.

3.) Do you have any golden rules for users of Instagram, when it comes to turning to the platform for mental health and general life advice?

Yes, take it all with a grain of salt – or whatever that phrase is. Some things may apply – some will not. Take what fits and leave the rests. Definitely don’t assume that you have to live a life that is suggested by an ‘instatherapist’ or ‘instacoach’. Live your life how you see fit. No stranger on the internet is going to have the solution for you. If you’re looking for that on Instagram – you’re lost. That might sound blunt, but people put way more trust and dependence upon some of the values that are implicitly and explicitly communicated on IG than they do on themselves. Basically, trust yourself more than a stranger.

4.) Who are your top influencers who are providing healthy, insightful advice for mental health on Instagram?

1. @seerutkchawla

2. @sitwithwhit

3. @sexpositivefamilies

4. @nedratawwab

5. @silvykhoucasian

6. @therapyforwomen

7. @kenziebrenna

Artwork by Karis Simms