Digital and Social Media Ethics: Clinical & Ethical Considerations
Online Course Materials: Articles Audios Articles Videos
Developed by Keely Kolmes, Psy.D.
This course includes an exclusive copy of Dr. Kolmes's 2020 Updated and Annotated Social Media Policy.
Course fulfills, fully or in part, the Ethics & Law requirements for psychologists in CA and for psychologists, social workers, counselors, and addiction counselors in other states. Verify requirements with your state board.
This course is also offered as part of a TeleMental Health & Digital Ethics Certificate of 24 CE Credit Hours.
Course materials include videos, with audio versions and transcripts.
General Course Description
Digital technology offers clinical and ethical challenges for those who provide face-to-face mental health services. These challenges include extra-therapeutic contacts between therapists and their clients, questions about what distinguishes personal and professional activities online, and the lack of clearly developed policies related to our online behaviors and interactions.
This intermediate course offers an overview to digital ethics and social networking sites and activities. It is comprised of four videos, with audio versions and transcripts available. Guidelines are provided for managing the concerns that may arise for practitioners who use these sites. Applicable ethical standards will be addressed. While this course focuses on issues that may concern clinicians who provide online therapy and who also maintain a presence on social media sites, online treatment is not specifically addressed in this course.
The first section of the course is an overview of the issues related to the web visibility of psychotherapists on Social Media. It discusses the different approaches to personal vs. professional online activities and looks at research on client and therapist extra-therapeutic encounters online. It also covers general privacy tips for clinicians. The second section is a broad review of different social media sites with specific tips to protect one’s privacy. We also go further in addressing the balance between personal and professional use. It addresses blogging, cloud storage, email, texting, and teletherapy. The third section addresses Ethics Codes for psychologists, social workers, professional counselors, and marriage and family therapists by presenting clinical dilemmas and ethical vignettes. It also provides details to the issues that come up for psychotherapists who deal with online reviews from their clients. The fourth section walks you through how to create a social media policy for your practice or organization. There are specific questions to be used as guides in auditing your digital technology use, with exercises to create your own policy. It also includes an exclusive copy of Dr. Kolmes’s 2020 Updated and Annotated Social Media Policy. Additional references are provided for further study, but they are not part of the course.
Disclaimer: This course is purely educational and does not intend to serve as a license (or permission) to mental health professionals to prescribe or practice any of the approaches discussed in this course unless they fall within the scope of practice of your profession. Check with your licensing board about the scope of practice of your profession to make sure you practice within that scope.It also does not serve as a permission to title yourself in any specific way.
- This course will teach the participant to
- Identify the ethical challenges that may arise from engaging in activities on the Internet.
- Describe strategies for minimizing risk of ethical violations on the Internet.
- Assess their use of e-mail, record-keeping, and mobile computing devices to prevent confidentiality breaches.
- Create a social media policy for one’s office to address potential boundary issues with clients.
- Web Visibility & Google Alerts
- Balancing Personal and Professional Use of Social Media
- Varying Approaches to Managing Your Online Presence
- Research on Client and Psychotherapist Extratherapeutic Encounters on the Internet
- Research on the Impact of Consumer Reviews of Psychotherapists on Therapy Clients
- Personal Disclosures & Managing Personal Content
- General Privacy Tips
- Introduction to Social Media Sites with more Privacy Tips (focus on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and some Location-Based Services)
- Blogging & Online Personal Ads
- Cloud Storage & Data Protection for Computers, Tablets, and Phones
- Use of Email & Texting & Fax
- Teletherapy & Informed Consent
- Ethical and Clinical Dilemmas (with Relevant Ethics Codes Discussed)
- Friending/Googling/Media Statements/Seeking Consultation Online/Dealing with Online Reviews
- Creating a Social Media Policy with Dr. Kolmes’s Updated Social Media Policy (2020)
- Additional Samples of Social Media Policies
- E-Mail between Therapists and Patients
- E-mail Tips for Clinicians: Two Articles Read by Keely Kolmes
- Device Management
- Codes of Ethics
- Dr. Kolmes’s 2020 Updated Social Media Policy