Today there are so many ways to communicate with one another. Since there are so many ways, it is now important to let you know how I conduct the business of communicating with you as a mental health professional. As new technology develops and the Internet changes, there may be times when I need to update this policy. I will notify you in writing of any policy changes and make sure you have a copy of the updated policy. And, of course, you can check my website for updates on social media policy changes as well.
I do not accept friend or contact requests from current or former clients on any social networking site (Facebook, LinkedIn, My Space, etc). It may blur the boundaries of our therapeutic relationship if I were to friend you. The therapeutic relationship is different from being someone’s friend; therefore, I feel it precludes social networking.
The National Association of Social Workers Code of Ethics states, Social workers should respect clients’ right to privacy (standard 1.07[a]). To respect my client’s privacy, I do not do electronic searches on them.
Blogs and Twitter
I do write a blog that is on my website for psycho education purposes. You can leave comments but I will not be responding or following. I do not use Twitter. I do have a Facebook page for my business but I do not respond to posts or following.
Texting and Social Media Contact
Cell phone text messaging (SMS) and social networking sites such as Facebook, Linkedln or Twitter are not secure. I do not give out my cell phone number because I think it gives the impression I can be contacted 24/7 and I will be available. The best way to contact me between sessions is email (firstname.lastname@example.org) followed by calling my office and leaving a message (919-467-3661).
Emails I receive from you that are non-administrative and any responses that I send to you become a part of your legal record. Administrative emails are appointment changes, cancellations, etc. Standard emailing is not secure without encryption which is why I use startmail.com. If the response is sensitive then I will encrypt the email to you, otherwise for appointment changes or cancellations it will not be encrypted. In order to encrypt the email I need to ask you a question and you have to give the correct answer otherwise you will not be able to read the email. When we meet I will discuss this feature with you.
Business Review Sites
You may find my psychotherapy 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. It is your right to participate in such reviews, please note though that I am not soliciting a testimony from you if you see my practice name listed. The North Carolina Social Worker Certification and Licensure Board Code of Ethics section .0509 Public Statements section (c) states that social workers shall neither solicit nor use recommendations or testimonials from clients. Also, be aware if you do participate (post a review) you are identifying yourself as a client of mine, therefore, your privacy/confidentiality has been compromised.
Many clients use location-based services such as Foursquare, Loopt, and Gowalla to enable friends and acquaintances to follow their itinerary via their mobile telephones. If your cell phone is GPS enabled, you may be broadcasting to your friends that you are visiting my office every week and this could be viewed as violating your privacy/confidentiality. This may be of no concern to you, but in case it is now you know.