Social media policy
Below is the social media policy of Gabrielle Gawne-Kelnar, Sydney counsellor and psychotherapist:
Clients and therapists online
The Internet presents some interesting situations for clients and counsellors to negotiate. As a therapist, I always talk with my clients about how I will protect their privacy and confidentiality in “the real world” if we happen to meet in the street. Similarly, there are measures I will take to protect your privacy, and our therapeutic relationship, online.
This page outlines:
• my policies related to social media
• how I will conduct myself online as a mental health professional
• how you can expect me to respond to various interactions that may occur between us online.
If you have any questions, I encourage you to bring them up when we meet in therapy.
Please note: as new technology develops and the Internet changes, I may need to update this policy. If I do, I will notify you (my client) of any policy changes as they occur.
It is not a regular part of my practice to research client information on any search engines (such as Google) or any other social media sites.
Extremely rare exceptions may be made only during times of crisis. If I have reason to be concerned for your safety, and you have not been in touch with me via our usual means (coming to appointments, calling, or emailing) there might be an instance in which using a search engine may become important as part of ensuring your welfare. These are very unusual situations and if I was ever to do this, I would fully document the process and discuss it with you when we next meet.
On the other hand, if there is any information about you online or aspects of your online life that you’d like to share, please bring that up during session times, and we can talk together about what it means for you.
I do not accept “friend” or contact requests from current or former clients on any social networking sites such as 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.
I have a Facebook Page for my professional practice to allow people to read and share my blog posts and other mental health related updates. I have no expectation that you will visit this page.
If you wish to, you’re welcome to check it out or even “like” the page or share posts from it. However, please note that doing so may indirectly impact your privacy and confidentiality, depending on whether other people in your network infer that we may be working together in therapy.
I post mental health news and updates on Twitter (@OneLifeTherapy).
I have no expectation that you, as a client, will follow my Twitter stream.
However, if you do, and I happen to notice that (if you have a recognisable name on Twitter), we may briefly discuss this and its potential impact on our working relationship.
My primary concern is your privacy. If you share this concern, there are more private ways to follow me on Twitter (such as using a locked Twitter list), which would eliminate your having a public link to my content. You’re welcome to use your own discretion in choosing whether to follow me.
Please note that I will not follow you back. I only follow other health professionals on Twitter and I do not follow current or former clients on any social media sites.
My reasoning for this is that I believe casual viewing of clients’ online content outside of the therapy hour is unlikely to be therapeutic; it may create conflicts of interest and even confusion about whether it’s being done as a part of your therapy or only 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 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 our sessions where we can view and explore them together, during the therapy hour.
I publish a blog called The Therapist Within on Psych Central.
I have no expectation that you will read or subscribe to it.
If you do wish to read it, and if you find anything there that might be useful for our work together, please feel free to bring it up in session.
If you wish to post a comment, you’re welcome to – however, please consider using a pseudonym that is not connected to your email address or other social networks (again, to protect your privacy). If you do post a comment, I may reflect upon that during your next therapy session, so we can discuss how it might relate to the work you’re doing in therapy.
Interacting between sessions
If you need to contact me between sessions, the best way to do so is by phone/SMS or email.
Please do not use messaging on social networking sites such as Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn, as these sites are not secure and I may not read these messages in a timely fashion. Engaging with me this way could compromise your confidentiality.
Business review sites
You may find my counselling practice on directory sites such as Truelocal, Startlocal, Hotfrog or other places which list businesses. Some of these sites allow users to rate their providers and/or add reviews. If you should find my listing on any such sites, please know that my listing is not a request for a testimonial, rating, or endorsement from you, as my client.
Of course, you have a right to express yourself on any site you wish, and to tell anyone of your choosing that I am your therapist. If you do choose to write on a business review site, you may be sharing personally revealing information in a public forum, so I would urge you to create a pseudonym that is not linked to your regular email address or friend networks for your own privacy and protection.
Due to confidentiality, I cannot respond to any review on any of these sites.
You should also be aware that if you’re using these sites to communicate with me about your feelings about our work, there is a good possibility that I may never see this.
If we’re working together, I hope that you will bring your feelings and responses into the therapy process itself. This can be an important part of therapy, even (perhaps especially) if you might have some difficult thoughts to share.
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 regarding our potential interactions on the Internet, do bring them to my attention so that we can talk about them together.
This policy has been adapted from the work of Dr Keely Kolmes