Our Private Practice Social Media Policy

This document outlines our office policies related to use of Social Media. Please read it to understand how we conduct ourselves on the Internet as mental health professionals and how you can expect us to respond to various interactions that may occur between us on the Internet. If you have any questions about anything within this document, we encourage you to bring them up when we meet. As new technology develops and the Internet changes, there may be times when we need to update this policy. If we do so, we will notify you in writing of any policy changes and make sure you have a copy of the updated policy.

FRIENDING

we do not accept friend requests from current or former clients on any social networking site. We believe that adding clients as friends 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.

FACEBOOK

We keep a Facebook Page for my professional practice to allow people to share my blog posts and practice updates with other Facebook users. You are welcome to view our Facebook business page and read or share articles posted there, but we do not accept past or present clients as followers of this page . We believe having clients as Facebook friends creates a greater likelihood of compromised client confidentiality, and feel it is best to be explicit to all whom may view our list of followers to know that they will not find client names on that list. Note that you should be able to subscribe to the page via RSS without becoming a Fan and without creating a visible, public link to our Page. You are more than welcome to do this.

FOLLOWING

We publish a blog on my website and  post psychology and relationship news on Twitter. We have no expectation that clients will want to follow our blog or Twitter stream. However, if you use an easily recognizable name on Twitter and we happen to notice that you’ve followed Watersedge Counselling on there, we may briefly discuss it and its potential impact on our working relationship.

Our primary concern is your privacy. If you share this concern, there are more private ways to follow us on Twitter (such as using an RSS feed or a locked Twitter list), which would eliminate you having a public link to our content. You are welcome to use your own discretion in choosing whether to follow Watersedge Counselling. Note that we will not follow you back. We mainly follow other health professionals on Twitter and  do not follow current or former clients on blogs or Twitter. Our reasoning is that we 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 our 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 us, please bring them into our sessions where we can view and explore them together, during the therapy hour.

INTERACTING

Please do not use messaging on Social Networking sites such as Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn to contact me. These sites are not secure, and we may not read these messages in a timely fashion. Do not use Wall postings, @replies, or other means of engaging with us in public online if we have an already established client/therapist relationship. Engaging with us 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 notes.

If you need to contact us between sessions, the best way to do so is by phone. Direct email at colleen@watersedgecounselling.com is second best for quick, administrative issues such as changing appointment times. See the email section below for more information regarding email interactions.

USE OF SEARCH ENGINES

It is NOT a regular part of our practice to search for clients on Google or Facebook or other search engines. Extremely rare exceptions may be made during times of crisis. If we have a reason to suspect that you are in danger, and you have not been in touch with us 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 we ever resort to such means, we will fully document it and discuss it with you when we next meet.

GOOGLE READER

We do not follow current or former clients on Google Reader and we do not use Google Reader to share articles. If there are things you want to share with us that you feel are relevant to your treatment whether they are news items or things you have created, we encourage you to bring these items of interest into our sessions.

BUSINESS REVIEW SITES

You may find my psychotherapy practice on sites such as Google 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 our listing is NOT a request for a testimonial, rating, or endorsement from you as our client.

Of course, you have a right to express yourself on any site you wish. But due to confidentiality, we cannot respond to any review on any of these sites whether it is positive or negative. We urge you to take your own privacy as seriously as we take our commitment of confidentiality to you. You should also be aware that if you are using these sites to communicate indirectly with us about your feelings about our work, there is a good possibility that we may never see it.

If we are working together, we 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.

But you are more than welcome to tell anyone you wish that you attend Watersedge Counselling or how you feel about the treatment we have provided to you, in any forum of your choosing. If you do choose to write something on a business review site, we hope you will keep in mind that you may be sharing personally revealing information in a public forum. We urge you to create a pseudonym that is not linked to your regular email address or friend networks for your own privacy and protection.

COMPLAINTS

If you are concerned about the health care we have provided to you, we encourage you to speak to us immediately. If you feel we have done something harmful or unethical and you do not feel comfortable discussing it with us, you can always contact the Health Care Complaints Commission, which oversees the implementation of the Code of Conduct for unregistered health practitioners (which includes counsellors and psychotherapists in Australia).

Health Care Complaints Commission

Level 13, 323 Castlereagh St

Sydney NSW 2000

Post: Locked Mail Bag 18

Strawberry Hills NSW 2012

Telephone: 02 9219 7444 or toll free in NSW 1800 043 159

Fax: 02 9281 4585

email: hccc@hccc.nsw.gov.au

EMAIL

we prefer using email only to arrange or modify appointments. Please do not email us content related to your therapy sessions, as email is not completely secure or confidential. If you choose to communicate with us by email, be aware that all emails are retained in the logs of your and our 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 email we receive from you and any responses that we send to you will be stored and kept in your treatment record.

CONCLUSION

Thank you for taking the time to review the Watersedge Counselling 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 our attention so that we can discuss them.

To download the PDF version of this document, please click here.