Digital Ethics: Keeping Abreast of Clinical and Ethical Considerations

Developed by Ofer Zur, Ph.D.
Course materials are available as articles, audio with transcripts, and video with transcripts.

The continual evolution of use of the Internet and related digital technologies adds a level of complexities and ethical considerations for clinicians. Even those who do not engage in telemental health must adhere to ethical guidelines governing social media, online reviews, texting, and other forms of online communications.

In this intermediate level course, ethics expert, Dr. Ofer Zur, sheds light on current regulations and guidelines clinicians need to adhere to in order to practice within ethical standards. This interview is broken into three sections and is available in video, audio or text format.

In the first section, Dr. Zur reviews fundamental principles of ethics including the Standard of Care and codes of ethics. In the second section, Dr. Zur discusses the disinhibition effect, other aspects of digital interaction, along with a review of the ethics of Google searches. The final section includes a discussion of standards of telemental health and conducting telehealth across state lines.

As an added bonus, a sample telehealth consent form is included.

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.


  • Standard of Care
    • Definition
  • Components that comprise the standard of care
  • Application in Telemental health
  • Ethical Decision Making
    • Steps involved
  • Digital Ethics
    • Texting
    • Disinhibition Effect
    • The Yelp Trap
      • Responding to reviews
    • Google
      • Standards and ethical considerations
      • Informed consent
  • Online/Digital Dual Relationships
    • Codes of ethics
  • Considerations as a result of changes triggered by COVID pandemic
    • Increases in mental health/social concerns
      • Impact on teletherapy
        • Increased ease of practicing across state lines
        • Changes in insurance regulations
  • Impact on therapists as a result of shift to teletherapy
    • Loss of collegial relationships
    • Isolation
    • New ethical concerns
  • Possible future trends
    • Telemental health apps
      • Ethical and privacy concerns
  • Ethical guidelines for practicing telehealth
    • Separate informed consent
    • Separate Insurance policy
    • Other concerns

Educational Objectives

  • Describe how the standard of care influences ethical decision making.
  • Identify how to respond to online reviews.
  • Prepare for online therapy in a manner that includes recommendations to assure adherence to current standards of care.
  • Identify how a professional website is separate from a personal site.
  • Plan for adhering to ethical guidelines when conducting therapy across state lines.