Social Media Policy
This policy was created for my clients, as I have a unique professional and therapeutic relationship with them.
This document outlines my office policies related to use of Social Media. Please read it to understand how I conduct myself on the Internet as a mental health professional and how you can expect me to respond to various interactions that may occur between us on the Internet.
If you have any questions about any of my social media policies, I encourage you to bring them up when we meet. As new technology develops and the Internet changes, there will be times when I need to update this policy. If I do so, I will notify you of any policy changes and make sure you have access to a copy of the updated policy.
I do not accept friend or contact requests from current or former clients on any social networking site (Facebook, LinkedIn, etc). I believe that 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.
Assessment & Therapy Associates of Grand Forks (ATAGF; the practice for which I work) and I maintain professional Facebook pages to share interesting articles, community information, and updates with other Facebook users. You are welcome to view either Facebook Page and read or share information posted there. I have no expectation that you as a client will want to follow or “like” either Facebook page.
The Review function for both pages is turned off. This was done to maintain clients’ privacy, as individuals reading reviews may assume you are a client of mine and/or ATAGF. In addition, the American Psychological Association’s Ethics Code prohibits our soliciting testimonials from clients. We feel allowing reviews on these pages comes too close to an implied request for a public endorsement of my/our practice.
I post psychology news/information on Twitter and Facebook, maintain a professional Instagram account, and publish a blog online. I have no expectation that you as a client will want to follow my Twitter stream, Facebook feed, Instagram account, or blog. However, if you use an easily recognizable name on Twitter and/or Instagram and I happen to notice that you’ve followed me there, we may briefly discuss it and its potential impact on our working relationship.
My primary concern is your privacy. If you share this concern, there are more private ways to follow me on Twitter (such as using an RSS feed or a locked Twitter list), which would eliminate your having a public link to my content. Of course, you can use your own discretion in choosing whether to follow me and the manner in which you do so.
I do not follow current or former clients on blogs, Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter, and many of feeds I follow are those of other professionals and organizations. I believe casual viewing of clients’ online content outside of our sessions together can create confusion in regard to whether it’s being done as a part of our work together or to satisfy my 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 me, please bring them into our sessions where we can view and explore them together, during our sessions.
Please do not use SMS (mobile phone text messaging) or messaging on Social Networking sites such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or LinkedIn to contact me. These sites are not secure and I may not read these messages in a timely fashion. Please do not use Wall postings, @replies, or other means of engaging with me in public online if we have an already established client/therapist relationship because engaging with me this way 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. I may also not respond to them as promptly as I would a telephone call to my office because I am not always logged into my social media accounts.
If you need to contact me between sessions, the best way to do so is by my work phone number (701-780-6821). The office staff will relay your message and any important information to me. I do not routinely use email as a means of communication with clients; it is never a good means of communication for therapeutic information or in a crisis situation, particularly because I do not always check my email frequently.
Use of Search Engines
It is NOT a regular part of my practice to search for clients on Google or other search engines. It is also NOT a regular part of my practice to search for clients on social media (e.g., Facebook, Twitter, Instagram).
Business Review Sites
You may find my psychology 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 whether the business has added itself to the site. If you should find my listing on any of these sites, please know that my listing is NOT a request for a testimonial, rating, or endorsement from you as my client.
The American Psychological Association’s Ethics Code states under Principle 5.05 that it is unethical for psychologists to solicit testimonials: “Psychologists do not solicit testimonials from current therapy clients/patients or other persons who because of their particular circumstances are vulnerable to undue influence.”
Of course, you have a right to express yourself on any site you wish. But due to confidentiality, I cannot respond to any review on any of these sites whether it is positive or negative. You should also be aware that if you are using these sites to communicate indirectly with me about your feelings about our work, there is a good possibility that I may never see it.
If we are working together, I hope 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 with me wherever and with whomever you like. Confidentiality means that I cannot tell people that you are my client and my Ethics Code prohibits me from requesting testimonials. But you are more than welcome to tell anyone you wish that I’m your therapist or how you feel about the treatment I provided to you, in any forum of your choosing.
If you do choose to write something on a business review site, I hope you will keep in mind that you may be sharing personally revealing information in a public forum. I urge you to create a pseudonym that is not linked to your regular email address or friend networks for your own privacy and protection. If you feel I have done something harmful or unethical and you do not feel comfortable discussing it with me, you can always contact the North Dakota State Board of Psychologist Examiners (contact information below), which oversees licensing of psychologists in North Dakota, and they will review the services I have provided.
North Dakota State Board of Psychologist Examiners
402 East Main Avenue, Suite 5
Bismarck, ND 58501-4091
Location-Based Services (LBS)
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. I do not place my practice as a check-in location on various sites such as Foursquare, Gowalla, Loopt, etc. However, if you have GPS tracking enabled on your device, it is possible that others may surmise that you are a therapy client due to regular check-ins at my office. Please be aware of this risk if you are intentionally “checking in,” from my office or if you have a passive LBS app enabled on your phone.
I rarely use email to communicate with clients. Under specific circumstances that I will discuss with a client directly, I may elect to communicate with you by email. Please note that this is an incredibly rare occurrence and done so for very specific purposes. If we discuss having email contact, I will ask you to sign an informed consent to email so you are aware of the risks of using this method of communication. You are not obligated to ever communicate with me by email.
If we decide to use email for a specific purpose, please do not email me content related to your therapy sessions, as email is not completely secure or confidential. If you choose to communicate with me by email, be aware that all emails are retained in the logs of your and my Internet service providers. While it is unlikely that someone will be looking at these logs, they are, in theory, available to be read by the system administrator(s) of the Internet service provider. You should also know that any emails I receive from you and any responses that I send to you become a part of your medical record.
Thank you for taking the time to review my 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 my attention so that we can discuss them.
The effective date of this policy is September 10, 2016.
Updates to this policy: June 26, 2017; October 1, 2017; October 29, 2017.