Center of Change Social Media Policy
This document outlines the office policies related to use of Social Media. Please read it to understand how Center of Change staff conduct ourselves on the Internet as mental health professionals and how you can expect your provider to respond to various interactions that may occur between patient and professional on the Internet. If you have any questions about anything within this document, we encourage you to bring them up during your appointment. As new technology develops and the Internet changes, there may be times when Center of Change needs to update this policy. If this occurs, you will have access to the updated policy on our website, TheCenterofChange.com, or in our lobby. You may help yourself to a copy.
Friending Center of Change providers not accept friend or contact requests from current or former clients on any social networking site (Facebook, LinkedIn, etc). Adding patients as friends or contacts on these sites can compromise your confidentiality and our respective privacy. It may also blur the boundaries of the therapeutic relationship. If you have questions about this, please bring them up during your appointment so your provider and you can talk more about it.
Fanning Center of Change does not maintain a professional Facebook page. All of the information shared by Center of Change can be found on the website, TheCenterofChange.com. It is probable that having clients as Facebook Fans creates a greater likelihood of compromised client confidentiality. In addition, the American Psychological Association’s Ethics Code prohibits soliciting testimonials from patients. The term “Fan” comes too close to an implied request for a public endorsement of our practice.
Following If Center of Change providers publish a blog on our website or if they post psychology news on Twitter, there will be no expectation that you, as a patient, will want to follow the blog or Twitter stream. However, if you use an easily recognizable name on Twitter and a Center of Change staff member recognizes that you have followed the Tweet, your provider may briefly discuss it and its potential impact on your working relationship. Your privacy is the primary concern of Center of Change. You are welcome to use your own discretion in choosing whether to follow Center of Change. Note that providers will not follow you back. Center of Change providers only follow other health professionals on Twitter and do not follow current or former clients on blogs or Twitter. It is possible that casual viewing of patients’ 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 the provider’s 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 your working relationship with your provider. If there are things from your online life that you wish to share with your provider, please bring them into your sessions where you can view and explore them together, during the therapy hour.
Interacting Please do not use SMS (mobile phone text messaging) or messaging on Social Networking sites such as Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn to contact your provider. These sites are not secure and your message may not be read in a timely fashion. Do not use Wall postings, @replies, or other means of engaging with your provider in public online if there has already been an established patient/provider relationship. Engaging 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 your provider between sessions, the best way to do so is by phone.
Direct email DrMeriweather@TheCenterofChange.com or tbremer@TheCenterofChange.com is available for sending information that you would like to share. However, the site is not monitored regularly and you will need to leave a voice mail message to inform Dr. Meriweather or Ms. Bremer that you have sent information. Do not leave important or timely information that is related to your immediate health and well-being. The providers are not responsible for assessing your well-being outside of the office visit. Therefore, if you leave messages that require a response, it is likely that you will not receive a response in a timely manner. If you have an emergency, call 911. Do NOT leave an email message for your provider. Please do not email content related to your therapy sessions, as email is not completely secure or confidential. If you choose to communicate with your provider by email, be aware that all emails are retained in the logs of your and Center of Change’s 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 emails received from you and any responses that your provider sends to you become a part of your legal record.
Use of Search Engines It is NOT a regular part of Center of Change providers’ practice to search for clients on Google or Facebook or other search engines. Extremely rare exceptions may be made during times of crisis. If there is reason to suspect that you are in danger and you have not been in touch with your provider via the usual means (coming to appointments or by phone) 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 such means are ever required, your provider will fully document it and discuss it with you when you next meet.
Google Reader Center of Change providers do not follow current or former clients on Google Reader. If there are things you want to share with your provider that you feel are relevant to your treatment whether they are news items or things you have created, Center of Change encourages you to bring these items of interest into your sessions.
Business Review Sites You may find Center of Change 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 a Center of Change listing on any of these sites, please know that this listing is NOT a request for a testimonial, rating, or endorsement from you as a Center of Change patient. The American Psychological Association’s Ethics Code states under Principle 5.05 that it is unethical for psychologists to solicit testimonials: “Psychologists do not solicit testimonials from current therapy clients/patients or other persons 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, your provider cannot respond to any review on any of these sites whether it is positive or negative. You are urged to take your own privacy as seriously as the providers at Center of Change take our commitment of confidentiality to you. You should also be aware that if you are using these sites to communicate indirectly with your provider about your feelings about the work that is occurring in therapy, there is a good possibility that they may never see it. When working in therapy, you are strongly encouraged to bring your feelings and reactions about your work together directly into the session so it can be addressed through the therapeutic process. This can be an important part of therapy, even if you decide you and your provider are not a good fit.
None of this is meant to keep you from sharing that you are in therapy at Center of Change wherever and with whomever you like. Confidentiality means that your Center of Change provider cannot tell people that you are a patient here and your provider’s Ethics Code prohibits her from requesting testimonials. But you are more than welcome to tell anyone you wish who is your therapist or how you feel about the treatment you are provided, in any forum of your choosing. If you do choose to write something on a business review site, keep in mind that you may be sharing personally revealing information in a public forum. It is recommended that you create a pseudonym that is not linked to your regular email address or friend networks for your own privacy and protection. If you feel your provider has done something harmful or unethical and you do not feel comfortable discussing it with your provider, you can always contact the Board of Psychology, which oversees licensing, and they will review the services you have been provided. pr.mo.gov/psychologists.asp
Location-Based Services 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. Center of Change has not placed the 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 Center of Change. Please be aware of this risk if you are intentionally “checking in,” from the office or if you have a passive LBS app enabled on your phone.
Modified from Social Media Policy Keely Kolmes, Psy.D.