This Social Media Policy was copied and adapted from the social media policy of Keely Kolmes, Psy.D., who licensed it under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommerical-Share Alike 3.0 United States License, making it available to other mental health professionals.
The British Columbia Association of Clinical Counsellors (BCACC) requires Registered Clinical Counsellors who use social media to have a social media policy. The following outlines my office policies related to the 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.
I do not accept friend or contact requests from current or former clients on any social networking site (Facebook, Linkedin, Instagram, etc.). I believe adding clients as friends or contacts on these sites can compromise their 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 publish resources on my website. I have no expectation that you as a client will want to follow my resource page.
I do not follow current or former clients on blogs or any other social media platform. I believe casual viewing of clients’ online content outside of the counselling hour can create confusion in regard to whether it’s being done as a part of treatment or to satisfy 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 your sessions where we can view and explore them together during the counselling hour.
Use of Search Engines
It is not part of my regular 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 reason to suspect that you are in danger and you have not been in touch with me via your usual means (coming to appointments, Telehealth, or phone contact) 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 resort to such means, I will fully document it and discuss it with you when we next meet.
Business Review Sites
You may find The Lawyer Mindset, Bena Stock Counselling & Consulting and/or Succeed Counselling on sites such as Google, Yahoo Local, Health Local, Psychology Today, or other places that 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 The Lawyer Mindset, Bena Stock Counselling & Consulting and/or Succeed Counselling listed on any of these sites, please know that this listing is not a request for a testimonial, rating, or endorsement from you as a 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).
Of course, you have the 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 be aware that if you are using these sites to communicate indirectly to me about your feelings regarding our work, there is a good possibility I may never see it.
If we are working together, I hope you will bring your feelings and reactions to our work directly into the counselling process. This can be an important part of the counselling process, even if we decide we are not a good fit. None of this is meant to keep you from sharing that you are in counselling with me, wherever and with whomever you like. Confidentiality means that I cannot tell people that you are my client and my Code of Ethics prohibits me from requesting testimonials. But you are more than welcome to tell anyone you wish that I am your counsellor or how you feel about the treatment I provide 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 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 counselling client due to your location.
I prefer using email only to arrange or modify appointments. Please do not email me content related to your counselling sessions, as email is not completely secure or confidential. You can send me confidential secure messages through the booking app platform in your The Lawyer Mindset, Bena Stock Counselling & Consulting profile. These messages will appear as a message cloud on my schedule next to your scheduled session. If you do not have a session scheduled, your message will not come to my attention unless you email me to let me know you have messaged me within your The Lawyer Mindset, Bena Stock Counselling & Consulting profile. Finally, you should be aware that any emails I receive from you and any responses that I send to you become part of your legal record.
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 we can discuss them.