This page outlines my office policies related to used of electronic communication on 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 on this page, 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.
Friending and Following
I do not accept friend requests from current or former clients on any social networking site (Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter, etc.). I believe that adding clients as friends for 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 about it more.
Please do not use messaging on social networking sites such as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn or otherwise to contact me. These sites are not secure and I may not read these message in a timely fashion. 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. Engaging with me 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 chart. If you need to contact me between sessions, the best way to do so is by phone. Direct email to firstname.lastname@example.org or SMS (text message) is second best for quick, administrative issues such as changing appointment times. See the email/SMS section below for more information regarding these interactions.
Use of Search Engines
It is NOT a regular part of my practice to search for clients on Google, 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 meet next meet.
Business Review Sites
You may find my counseling practice on sites such as Yelp, Healthgrades, Yahoo Local, Bing, or other places which list businesses. Some of these sites include forums in which users can 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 for you as my client. The American Counseling Association (ACA) Ethics Codes deems it unethical for practitioners to seek testimonials. 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 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 e 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 writing something on a business review site, I hope you 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 my, you can always contact the regulating board who oversees my clinical services, the Pennsylvania State Board of Social Work, Marriage and Family Therapists, and Professional Counselors.
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 SquareUp, Foursquare, 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 or bi-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.
I prefer using email, SMS text messaging or iMessages only to arrange or modify appointments. If you choose to purchase one of my message-based counseling packages for skills building work or clinical counseling support/checkins, we will utilize an encrypted, HIPAA compliant messaging service. Please do not email/text content related to your therapy sessions. Even though my email is HIPAA compliant and encrypted end-to-end, I prefer not to communicate this way in regard to your treatment whenever possible. If you choose to communicate with me by email/text, 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 administrators of the ISP. Any emails I receive from you and any responses that I send to you become a part of your legal record. As I currently utilize Google Voice, any calls, call history or text messaging may be a part of Google logs as well.
At this time, I accept the following electronic-based payment systems: Square. In order to maintain your confidentiality, I encourage you to be mindful in how you use these payment options and how you label your payments as these are not secure forms of communication and may be monitored by the payment system.
Thank you for taking the time to review my Electronic and 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.