SOCIAL MEDIA POLICY
Social Media is a fantastic tool that helps people get informed and engaged. I use social media for this purpose, and as such, the BCACC requires me as a Registered Clinical Counsellor (RCC) to have a Social Media Policy. This document outlines my 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 my policy, please be sure to bring them up when we meet and we can talk more about it. Social media is also something that is constantly changing and there may be times when I need to update this policy. If this happens, I will post the policy on my website and inform you of the changes in your session.
Let’s talk about confidentiality for a moment. You are the person that can decide what you want to keep confidential with regards to your sessions with me. As a member of the BCACC and in my role as your therapist, I must keep our relationship completely confidential except in cases of where you might harm yourself or others (see my Informed Consent for details). Thus, if you post on any of my social media pages, you are opening up the possibility of people inferring about our relationship or asking you about your connection to me. You get to decide what you tell people. You have a choice as to what you reveal about yourself online, however I will not reveal my connection to you.
This is how I handle different social media options:
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. I also do not interact with clients on social networking sites such as Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn. If you need to contact me between sessions, the best way to do so is by phone, or by email.
I have no expectation that you as a client will want to follow my blog, business Facebook feed, Pinterest Boards, or Instagram. In fact, the BCACC and CCPA Ethics Codes prohibit my soliciting testimonials from clients. As such I make a practice of deleting any comments regarding my services from current or former clients on these platforms.
You are welcome to use your own discretion in choosing whether to follow me. Please note that I will not follow you back. I mainly follow other health professionals and local businesses on social media and I do not follow current or former clients on Facebook, Pinterest, blogs or Instagram. My reasoning is that I 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 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 the therapy hour.
Please do not use messaging on Social Networking sites such as Facebook, Instagram, or LinkedIn to contact me. Also, 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. These sites are not secure and I may not read these messages in a timely fashion. Also, if there were an emergency, I would not be able to respond in a timely manner as I may not check these accounts regularly. The best way to interact with me is by email or phone. If you post on my wall 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 will delete any requests regarding your sessions that appear on any of my social media platforms.
USE OF SEARCH ENGINES
You may have a Facebook page, Instagram account or Twitter account. I do not “google” my clients or look up information on them for any reason. It is important to me that I know you as you are in my office. If I do come across your information online, you can be assured that I will move on and avoid reading content.
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 very unusual situations and if I ever resort to such means, I will fully document it and discuss it with you when we next meet.
BUSINESS REVIEW SITES
You may find my psychology practice on sites such as Yelp, Google, 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 British Columbia Association of Clinical Counsellors (BCACC) Standard for Promoting and Advertising Services states, “an RCC should never solicit testimonials, expressly or by implication, from clients or other persons who, because of their particular circumstances, may be vulnerable to undue influence” (BCACC Code of Ethical Conduct and Standards of Clinical Practice and Guidelines for Registered Clinical Counsellors, 2011).
You have a right to express yourself on any site you wish. However, 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 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 agencies which I am registered with, and they will review the services I have provided.
BC Association of Clinical Counsellors
#14 - 2544 Dunlevy Street
Victoria, British Columbia V8R 5Z2
Telephone: (250) 595-4448
Toll free in Canada: 1-800-909-6303
Canadian Counselling and Psychotherapy Association
#114-223 Colonnade Rd S
Ottawa, ON K2E 7K3
Telephone: (613) 237-1099
Toll free in Canada: 1-877-765-5565
If you use 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, Facebook, 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 your location.
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.