This document outlines my office policies related to use of social media. Please read it to understand how I conduct myself on social media as a mental health professional and how you can expect me to respond to various interactions that may occur between us online.
If you have any questions about anything within this document, I encourage you to bring them up when we meet.
I usually do not accept friend or contact requests from current or former clients on any social networking site such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, or Twitter. I believe that adding clients as friends or contacts on these sites can compromise your confidentiality and can blur the nature of the therapeutic relationship. If you do make an online friend request, I will bring this up at some point in our sessions and we will discuss the request.
I publish a blog on my website and I have a professional page on Facebook. I have no expectation that you as a client will want to follow my blog or Facebook page.
My primary concern is ensuring the effectiveness of your therapy and part of that is your privacy. You are welcome to use your own discretion in choosing whether to follow me.
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 the therapy sessions.
Please do not use messaging on Social Networking sites such as Twitter, Facebook, 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 therapeutic relationship. 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.
If you need to contact me between sessions, the best way to do so is by phone or Email. See the email section below for more information regarding email interactions.
Use of Search Engines
It is not a regular part of my practice to search for clients on Google or Facebook or other search engines. Extremely rare exceptions may be made during times of crisis. If I have a reason to suspect that you are in danger and you have not been in touch with me 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 I ever resort to such means, I will discuss it with you when we next meet.
Business Review Sites
You may find my psychology practice on sites such as Yelp, Google, 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.
My professional ethics prohibit me as a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist from soliciting testimonials from current or former clients. 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. I urge you to take your own privacy as seriously as I take my commitment of confidentiality to you. 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 that you will bring your feelings and reactions to our work directly into the therapeutic process. This can be an important part of your 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 Codes 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.
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 on a weekly basis. 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 prefer using email only to arrange or modify appointments. 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 legal record.
I urge you to speak to me directly if you have any concerns about your treatment or if you feel I have done something harmful or unethical. Talking with your therapist about your treatment and how I might be conducting myself is an import part of the therapeutic process and allows the therapist to make adjustments along the way.
If you do not feel comfortable discussing it with me, you can always contact the Texas Department of State Health Services Board Professional Licensing and Certification Unit at (800) 942-5540 and they will review the services I have provided.
If you have questions or concerns about any of these policies and procedures or regarding our potential interactions on the Internet, please bring them to my attention so that we can discuss them.