Social Media Policy

Information we share on social media and this website is intended for informational purposes only. Viewing our social media or website content does not constitute a professional relationship. You should consult an appropriate professional for specific advice tailored to your situation. If you are experiencing a life-threatening emergency, you should call 911 or go to your nearest emergency room.

This policy was created for our clients, as we have a unique professional and therapeutic relationship with them.

This document outlines our office policies related to use of Social Media. Please read it to understand how we conduct ourselves on the Internet as mental health professionals and how you can expect us to respond to various interactions that may occur between us on the Internet.

If you have any questions about any social media policies, we encourage you to bring them up when you meet with your provider. As new technology develops and the Internet changes, there will be times when this policy needs to be updated. If we do so, we will notify you of any policy changes and make sure you have access to a copy of the updated policy.

Friending

We do not accept friend or contact requests from current or former clients on any social networking site (Facebook, LinkedIn, etc). We believe that adding clients as friends or contacts on these sites can compromise your confidentiality and our respective privacy. It may also blur the boundaries of our therapeutic relationship. If you have questions about this, please bring them up when you meet with your provider and it can be discussed further.

Facebook

Assessment & Therapy Associates of Grand Forks (ATAGF; the practice for which we work) and Secure Couples maintain professional Facebook pages to share interesting articles, community information, and updates with other Facebook users. You are welcome to view either Facebook Page and read or share information posted there. We have no expectation that you as a client will want to follow or “like” either Facebook page.

The Review function for both pages is turned off. This was done to maintain clients’ privacy, as individuals reading reviews may assume you are a client of ours and/or ATAGF. In addition, the American Psychological Association’s Ethics Code prohibits our soliciting testimonials from clients. We feel allowing reviews on these pages comes too close to an implied request for a public endorsement of my/our practice.

Following

We post psychology news/information on Facebook and maintain a professional Instagram account. In the future, we may post information on Twitter or publish a blog online. We have no expectation that you as a client will want to follow our Twitter stream, Facebook feed, Instagram account, or blog. However, if you use an easily recognizable name on Twitter and/or Instagram and we happen to notice that you’ve followed us there, we may briefly discuss it and its potential impact on our working relationship.

Our primary concern is your privacy. If you share this concern, there are more private ways to follow us on Twitter (such as using an RSS feed or a locked Twitter list), which would eliminate your having a public link to our content. Of course, you can use your own discretion in choosing whether to follow us and the manner in which you do so.

We do not follow current or former clients on blogs, Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter, and many feeds we follow are those of other professionals and organizations. We believe casual viewing of clients’ online content outside of our sessions together can create confusion in regard to whether it’s being done as a part of our work together or to satisfy our personal 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 our working relationship. If there are things from your online life that you wish to share with your provider, please bring them into your sessions where they can be viewed and discussed together.

Interacting

Please do not use SMS (mobile phone text messaging) or messaging on Social Networking sites such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or LinkedIn to contact us. These sites are not secure and we may not read these messages in a timely fashion. Please do not use Wall postings, @replies, or other means of engaging with us in public online if we have an already established client/therapist relationship because engaging with us 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. We may also not respond to them as promptly as we would a telephone call to our office because we are not always logged into social media accounts.

If you need to contact your provider between sessions, the best way to do so is by my work phone number (701-780-6821). The office staff will relay your message and any important information to your provider. We do not routinely use email as a means of communication with clients; it is never a good means of communication for therapeutic information or in a crisis situation, particularly because we do not always check my email frequently.

Use of Search Engines

It is NOT a regular part of our practice to search for clients on Google or other search engines. It is also NOT a regular part of our practice to search for clients on social media (e.g., Facebook, Twitter, Instagram).

Business Review Sites

You may find our psychology practices 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 listing for your provider on any of these sites, please know that the listing is NOT a request for a testimonial, rating, or endorsement from you as a client.

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 should also be aware that if you are using these sites to communicate indirectly with your provider about your feelings about your work with them, there is a good possibility that your provider may never see it.

If you are working with us, we hope you will bring your feelings and reactions to your work directly into the therapy process. This can be an important part of therapy, even if you decide you are not a good fit with your provider. None of this is meant to keep you from sharing that you are in therapy with your provider wherever and with whomever you like. Confidentiality means that your provider cannot tell people that you are a client and your provider’s Ethics Code prohibits your provider from requesting testimonials. But you are more than welcome to tell anyone you wish that your provider is your therapist or how you feel about the treatment provided to you, in any forum of your choosing.

If you do choose to write something on a business review site, we hope you will keep in mind that you may be sharing personally revealing information in a public forum. We urge you to 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 North Dakota State Board of Psychologist Examiners (contact information below), which oversees licensing of psychologists in North Dakota, and they will review the services your provider has provided.

North Dakota State Board of Psychologist Examiners
Physical address:
1930 Burnt Boat Drive
Bismarck, ND 58503

Mailing address:
PO Box 1338
Bismarck, ND 58502-1388      

Phone: (701) 214-5580
Email: BoardOffice@ndsbpe.org 
Website: www.ndsbpe.org          

Location-Based Services (LBS)

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. We do not place my 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 our office. Please be aware of this risk if you are intentionally “checking in,” from our office or if you have a passive LBS app enabled on your phone.

Email

We occasionally send speaking and writing updates via an email list that individuals may opt-in to receive. We do not personally add anyone to this list. We have no expectation that you as a client will want to subscribe to this list. If you elect to subscribe to this list, information you provide when signing up (e.g., email address) will be shared with Mailchimp, which is the program we use to manage this list.

We rarely use email to communicate with clients. Therefore, if you subscribe to our email list, please do not use this (i.e., email) as a way to communicate with us. Under specific circumstances that will discuss with you directly, your provider may elect to communicate with you by email. Please note that this is an incredibly rare occurrence and done so for very specific purposes. If you discuss having email contact with your provider, you will be asked to sign an informed consent to email so you are aware of the risks of using this method of communication. You are not obligated to ever communicate with your provider, ATAGF, or Secure Couples by email.

If you and your provider decide to use email for a specific purpose, please do not email content related to your therapy sessions to your provider, 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 your provider’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 your provider receives from you and any responses that your provider sends to you become a part of your medical record.

Conclusion

Thank you for taking the time to review our Social Media Policy. If you have questions or concerns about any of these policies, procedures. or regarding our potential interactions on the Internet, please bring them to your provider’s attention so that we can discuss them.

The effective date of this policy is April 5, 2019.