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Digital and Social Media Ethics for Therapists: Clinical & Ethical Considerations for Psychologists, Counselors, and Clinicians

Online Course Materials:    ArticlesArticles   

Co-developed by Keely Kolmes, Psy.D. and Ofer Zur, Ph.D.

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Course fulfills the California and other states' ethics and law requirements. Course may qualify for insurance discount. Check with your insurer.

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This course is also offered as part of a TeleMental Health & Digital Ethics Certificate of 26 CE Credit Hours.

Video intro to course by Keely Kolmes, Psy.D. & Ofer Zur, Ph.D. (Transcript)

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 a lack of clearly developed policies related to our online behaviors and interactions.

This unique and first-of-its kind course offers an introduction to digital ethics and to various social networking sites and activities and provides guidelines for how to manage the concerns that may arise for practitioners who are using these sites. Applicable ethical standards will be addressed. While this course focuses on issues that may be of concern to clinicians who provide online therapy and who also maintain a presence on social media sites, online treatment is not specifically addressed in this course.

This intermediate course is comprised of 16 articles. The first section of the course is an Introduction to the clinical and ethical issues that get raised for psychotherapists using Social Media. The second section addresses online transparency of both clients and therapists, inclusive of what therapists may intentionally or unintentionally make available online, and whether they should access client information online. Section three looks at friend and contact requests on sites such as Facebook and LinkedIn. The fourth section addresses Twitter, Status Updates, and Location-based check-in sites. The fifth section discusses the ethical issues that are raised by consumer review sites and business listings. Section six focuses on email exchanges between therapists and clients, record keeping, and digital security. Section seven provides sample Social Media Policies, and section eight, the last one, includes links to ethics codes for psychotherapists. Additional resources and 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.


Educational Objectives:

    This course will teach the participant to

  • Describe social media and summarize several popular social media sites and services.
  • Distinguish between one’s personal and professional activities on the Internet.
  • Identify the ethical challenges that may arise from engaging in activities on the Internet.
  • Develop strategies for minimizing risk of ethical violations on the Internet.
  • Appraise their use of e-mail, record-keeping, and mobile computing devices to prevent confidentiality breaches.
  • Construct a social media policy for one’s office to address potential boundary issues with clients.
  • Review the different approaches and attitudes towards social networking between therapists and clients.
  • Discuss the relevant ethical issues as they pertain to therapists’ web sites and social networking profiles.

Course Syllabus:

  • Introduction to Digital Ethics & Social Medial Ethics
    • Clinical and Ethical Issues in Psychotherapy & Social Media
  • Internet Transparency
    • The Google Factor: Intentional and Unintentional Online Disclosure by Psychotherapists
    • An Introduction to Media Psychology for Bloggers and Tweeters
  • Social Networking: Friend Requests, Facebook, LinkedIn
    • Managing Twitter as a Mental Health Professional
    • How to Respond to Friend Request from Clients
    • LinkedIn for Mental Health Professionals
  • Social Networking: Tweeting & Blogging
    • Managing Twitter as a Mental Health Professional
    • Location-based Check-in Sites for Mental Health Professionals (Foursquare, Loopt, and other LBS)
  • The Yelp Dilemma
    • The Yelp Dilemma
    • Modern Day Digital Revenge
  • E-Mail between Therapists and Patients
    • E-mail Tips for Clinicians
  • Record-Keeping of Phone Messages, E-mail, and Texts
    • Additional Thoughts on Documentation
    • Laptop Security
  • Social Media Policies
  • Codes of Ethics
    • Guidelines
    • Relevant Codes of Ethics
CE Badge Created with Sketch. 8 CE

Cost: $79.00

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