Ethical Considerations in the Digital Age
Update for 2014: Since this interview, a number of the topics discussed have come up in ethics codes or professional guidelines, or have become more solidified in terms of standard of care. Thus, we offer these updates as an adjunct to this interview:
- On Googling of Clients and Therapists
- The ACA Code of Ethics restricts the Googling of clients without prior client consent, stating that Counselors “respect the privacy” of clients online.
- Some publications and guidelines from mental health professional organizations have also suggested that Googling clients without sufficient reason and/or prior consent may not be good practice.
- Therefore we recommend that therapists who intend to Google clients add the following in the Informed Consent to Treatment (i.e., Office Policies) that each and every client must read and sign prior to the first session:
INTERNET SEARCHES: At times Dr. xx may conduct a web search on his clients before the beginning of therapy or during therapy. If you have concerns or questions regarding this practice, please discuss it with me.
- On Having a Social Media Presence
- There is an emerging professional standard for therapists with an online presence to distribute a social media policy — an office policy that relates your policies regarding use of and relationships in social media — to clients. E.g. APAIT provides a copy of Keely Kolmes’ sample social media policy to psychologists (without explicit recommendation of it) and the ACA Code of Ethics requires that Counselors who have an online presence distribute a social media policy.
- On Yelp and Google
- It was mentioned that your LinkedIn profile, website, etc will come up before your Yelp reviews on Google searches. Since this recording was made, the search algorithms have changed and online reviews generally do come up high in searches for your name. However, the advice of burying negative reviews under positive content still stands and is still effective.
- On HIPAA and Client Emails
- See this article for deeper information: Clients Have the Right to Receive Unencrypted Emails Under HIPAA
- On Computer Security
- See our resources page that lays out the needed elements for security: Security for Computers & Mobile Devices