This document outlines my practice 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 anything within this document, I encourage you to bring them up when we meet. As new technology develops and the Internet changes, there may be times when I need to update this policy. If I do so, I will notify you in writing of any policy changes and make sure you have 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.
I do not keep a Facebook Page for my professional practice.
I sometimes publish blog articles on my website related to topics of professional interest. I have no expectation that you as a client will want to follow my blog or Twitter stream. However, if you use an easily recognizable name on Twitter and I happen to notice that you’ve followed me there, we may briefly discuss it and its potential impact on our working relationship.
Note that I will not follow you back. I prefer to not blur the lines of our professional, working relationship. I do not follow current or former clients on blogs or Twitter. If there are things from your on-line 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 text messaging or direct messaging on Social Networking sites such as Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn to contact me. These sites are not secure and I am not likely to read these messages in a timely fashion.
I use text messaging to provide automatic appointment reminders through my electronic office management system. I do not have the ability to receive or send texts from my office.
If you prefer to receive automated appointment reminders via email or voice message, this can be arranged. Please let me know.
I prefer to not use email with clients if possible, and then only to arrange or modify appointments. Please do not email me content related to your therapy sessions, as email is not secure or confidential. 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.
I do use email to respond to email inquiries through my Psychology Today professional listing only if a telephone number is not provided, and then only to address scheduling issues.
If you need to contact me between sessions, the best way to do so is by phone. Direct email at firstname.lastname@example.org should be a last resort and then only for quick, administrative issues such as changing appointment times or late notification of cancellation.
My Client Portal is the most convenient way for you to manage your appointments with me. It is available at https://wrgoodenough.clientsecure.me. Although you can schedule appointments without having an account, my clients can optionally log in to the portal for more functionality. To create a user portal account, I will send you, upon your request, a welcome email to confirm your email address and let you create your password.
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 fully document it and discuss it with you when we next meet.
Business Review Sites
You may find Goodenough Counseling and Mediation listed 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 National Association of Social Workers Code of Ethics (Section 4.07b) states that social workers should not solicit recommendations from clients: “Social workers should not engage in solicitation of testimonial endorsements (including solicitation of consent to use a client’s prior statement as a testimonial endorsement) from current clients or from other people 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. 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 Alabama State Board of Social Work Examiners, which oversees licensing, and they will review the services I have provided.
Alabama State Board of Social Work Examiners
100 North Union Street Suite 736
Montgomery AL 36104
334/242-5860 or 1-888-879-3672
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.
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.
© Keely Kolmes, Psy.D. –Social Media Policy –4/26/10
(Adapted by Wes Goodenough, LICSW to reflect differences in practice)
This document is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License. This means you are welcome to copy or adapt this policy to suit your own practice needs. If you use my policy for training or educational purposes, you must cite me as the original author. My copyright specifies that you may not use this work for commercial purposes. You are welcome to download a pdf of the policy.
If you use my policy for training or educational purposes, please cite me as the original author This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/us/ or send a letter to Creative Commons, 171 Second Street, Suite 300, San Francisco, Cal ifornia, 94105, USA