So how do counsellors maintain confidentiality and restrict any disclosure of confidential information in the social media world?
I have devised a list of Social Media Rules for any counsellor to use when thinking or using social media.
- Never disclose any information about your clients on any social media forum.
- Never engage with a client on social media.
- Keep your professional and personal lives separate. Social media is public. Anyone can see it. Your relationship with your client is a professional one. You would not disclose your personal life in the counselling room so clients should not be able to see this information on the internet. For example, I have a business and a personal Facebook account. I do not accept any friend requests from anyone apart from friends or family on my personal Facebook account. My personal Facebook account is hidden from public view.
- If using anonymous testimonials on any social media sites ensure that you have the client’s written permission.
- Do not ask clients to write a review on LinkedIn or Facebook. Ensure you make clear that if they choose to that it may compromise their confidentiality and your counselling relationship.
As a counsellor you will respect your client’s confidentiality. But how do counsellors ensure that our clients are clear about the use of social media, and its possible impact on the therapeutic relationship? You can help by having a social media policy. This will clearly state how you conduct yourself on twitter, Facebook, websites, blogs and LinkedIn, and more importantly, what you expect of the client. I have devised a social media policy which is available on my website and is referred to in my counselling contract.
Do you recommend any other social media rules for counsellors or would anything else to my social media policy?