This document outlines the practice’s policies related to use of Social Media. Please read it to understand how we conduct ourselves on the Internet as mental health professionals along with how you can expect us to respond to various interactions that may occur between us on the Internet. If you have any questions about anything within this document, I encourage you to bring them up in session when we meet. As new technology develops and the Internet changes, there may be times when there will be the need to update this policy. Friending we do not accept friend or contact requests from current or former clients on any social networking site (Facebook, LinkedIn, etc). Adding clients as friends or contacts on these sites can compromise your confidentiality and our respective privacy. It may also blur the boundaries of our therapeutic relationship. If you have questions about this, please bring them up when we meet and we can talk more about it.
We don’t keep a Facebook Page for the practice. We believe having clients as Facebook Fans creates a greater likelihood of compromised client confidentiality. There is no expectation that you would want to follow our Twitter stream. However, if you do and you use an easily recognizable name on Twitter, we may briefly discuss it and its potential impact on our working relationship. You are welcome to use your own discretion in choosing whether to follow the practice. Note that we will not follow you back. We do not follow current or former clients on blogs or Twitter. The reasoning for this being that we believe casual viewing of clients’ online content outside of the therapy hour can create confusion in regard to whether it’s being done as a part of your treatment or to satisfy personal curiosity. In addition, viewing your online activities without your consent and without our explicit arrangement towards a specific purpose could potentially have a negative influence on our working relationship. If there are things from your online life that you wish to share with in session, please bring them into our sessions where we can view and explore them together, during the therapy session.
Please limit SMS (mobile phone text messaging) to confirming an appointment or requesting an adjustment of the time. Please do not cancel an appointment by text as this creates a number of texts back and forth to reschedule as well as for clarification if it is late cancel. This is not a mode of communication to discuss anything of a therapeutic nature. Please do not message on social networking sites such as Twitter or LinkedIn to contact us. These sites are not secure and messages are not read in a timely fashion. Do not use @replies, or other means of engaging with us in public online if we have an already established client/therapist relationship. Engaging with us in this manner could compromise your confidentiality. It may also create the possibility that these exchanges become a part of your legal medical record and will need to be documented and archived in your chart. If you need to contact us between sessions, the best way to do so is by phone.
Use of Search Engines
It is NOT a regular part of the practice to search for clients on Google or Facebook or other search engines. Extremely rare exceptions may be made during times of crisis. If there is a reason to suspect that you are in danger and you have not been in touch with us via our usual means (coming to appointments, phone, or email) there might be an instance in which using a search engine (to find you, find someone close to you, or to check on your recent status updates) becomes necessary as part of ensuring your welfare. These are unusual situations and if we ever resort to such means, we will fully document it and discuss it with you when we next meet. If there are things you want to share with us that you feel are relevant to your treatment whether they are news items or things you have created, we encourage you to bring these items of interest into sessions. Business Review Sites You may find the practice on sites such as Yelp, Healthgrades, Yahoo Local, Bing, or other places which list businesses. Some of these sites include forums in which users rate their providers and add reviews. Many of these sites comb search engines for business listings and automatically add listings regardless of Social Media Policies or whether the business has added itself to the site. If you should find the listing on any of these sites, please know that the listing is NOT a request for a testimonial, rating, or endorsement from you as our client. You have a right to express yourself on any site you wish but due to confidentiality; we cannot respond to any review on any of these sites whether it is positive or negative. We urge you to take your own privacy as seriously as we take our commitment of confidentiality to you. You should also be aware that if you are using these sites to communicate indirectly with us regarding your feelings about our work, there is a good possibility that we may never see it. If we are working together, we would hope that you will bring your feelings and reactions to our work directly into the therapy process. This can be an important part of therapy, even if you decide we are not a good fit. None of this is meant to keep you from sharing that you are in therapy here, wherever and with whomever you like. Confidentiality means that we cannot tell people that you are our client. We also need to be clear that we are not requesting testimonials. If you do choose to write something on a business review site, please keep in mind that you may be sharing personally revealing information in a public forum.
Location Based Information
If you used location-based services on your mobile phone, you may wish to be aware of the privacy issues related to using these services. We do not place the practice as a “check-in” location on various sites. However, if you create a check-in location with GPS tracking enabled on your device, it is possible that others may surmise that you are a therapy client due to regular check-ins if you are coming into the office on a weekly basis. Please be aware of this risk if you are intentionally “checking in,” at the office or if you have a passive location app enabled on your phone.
Please do not email content related to your therapy sessions or treatment, as email is not completely secure or confidential. You should also know that any emails we receive from you and any responses that may be sent to you become a part of your legal record.
Thank you for taking the time to review our Social Media Policy! If you have questions or concerns about any of these policies and procedures or regarding our potential interactions on the Internet, do bring them to our attention so that we can discuss them.
Credit: © Keely Kolmes, Psy.D. – Social Media Policy – 4/26/10