I use social media to help people get informed and engaged. As a Registered Clinical Counsellor (RCC), my professional association, the BC Association of Clinical Counsellors (BCACC), requires that I have a social media policy. This policy delineates how I conduct myself on the internet as a mental health professional, and how you can expect me to respond to interactions that occur between us through social media.
As a mental health professional, it is my role to keep our relationship completely confidential. The exceptions to this rule are; when I believe you may harm yourself or others, when the safety of a child is at stake and if you are involved in a court proceeding where a Court of Law subpoenas me to provide counselling records.
You will decide what you want to keep confidential with regard to your sessions with me. However, it is important that I remind you that social media is a public forum. Conversational interactions with me on social media open up the possibility of people inferring about our relationship or asking you about your connection to me.
I will always provide superficial responses on social media and will simply extend the offer for you to connect with me through more private methods such as email or telephone connections. You have a choice as to what you reveal about yourself online. My public engagement needs to end at the invitation to private connections.
This is how I handle different social media options
I will not accept friend requests from current or former clients on any social networking site (Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram…). Friending may blur the boundaries of our therapeutic relationship. If you need to contact me between sessions, the best way to do so is either by phone or email.
I have no expectation that you as a client will follow my blog, business Facebook feed, Instagram or LinkedIn posts. In fact, the BCACC and IAYT 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 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.
I believe that casual viewing of client’s online content outside of the therapy hour can create confusion in regard to whether it’s being done as 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 influence 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 network 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 already have established a client/therapist connection. These sites are not secure and I may not read them in a timely fashion. If there was an emergency, the best way to interact with me is by email or phone.
If you post on my wall, it creates the possibility that these exchanges become a part of your legal medical record and will need to be documented and archived. I will delete any requests regarding your sessions that appear on any of my social media platforms.
Use of Search Engines
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 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 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 these sites whether it is positive or negative. I urge you to take your own privacy seriously as I take my commitment to confidentiality to you. 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 that we are not a good fit.
This policy is not meant to keep you from sharing that you are in therapy with me. That is your discretion. The policy is simply to let you know that I will maintain confidentiality by not revealing that you are my client and by not requesting testimonials.
If you do choose of your own volition 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 that I have done something harmful or unethical and you do not feel comfortable discussing it with me, you can always contact the agencies I am registered with, and they will review the services I have provided.
BCACC – 14 Dunlevy St Victoria, BC V8R 5Z2 Telephone: (250)595-4448
IAYT – PO Box 251563, Little Rock, AR 72225 Telephone: (928)541-0004