Social Media Policy
This page outlines the policies related to use of Social Media by the Gestalt Therapist, Counsellor & Emotional Freedom Practitioner (EFT), at Mell Symonds Counselling & Holistic Therapies. Please read it to understand how we conduct ourselves on the Internet as Counsellors and EFT practitioner’s, 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 anything within this document, you are encouraged to bring them up when we meet. As new technology develops and the Internet changes, there may be times when we need to update this policy. If that happens, you will receive notice of any policy changes so you can ensure you have a copy of the updated policy. Technology can successfully augment clinical work, but it can also raise concerns:
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 we meet and we can talk more about it.
You are welcome to view the Mell Symonds Counselling & Holistic Therapies Facebook Page and read or share articles posted there (it’s not very active), but we prefer not to accept clients as Fans of this Page. We believe having clients as Facebook Fans creates a greater likelihood of compromised client confidentiality and that it is best to be explicit to all who may view the list of Fans to know that they will not find clients names on that list. In addition, and following mandatory guidelines as set out in Sec (2.5), the Psychotherapy and Counselling Association Ethics Code seeks to protect client’s privacy and uphold their rights under privacy laws. Therefore, in taking steps to prevent unauthorised disclosure of client’s personal information, informing clients of their right to confidentiality and explaining the exceptions and legal limits to confidentiality and taking steps to prevent unauthorised disclosure of clients’ personal information ensures I am taking all precautionary steps to adhere to the code of ethics.
From time to time you may see the therapists from this practice post comment to other people’s blogs, on Facebook or in newspapers, where the website invites you to make comment. Please be aware that if you post a comment identifying yourself as a client, you may be compromising your own confidentiality which may intrude on your clinical work. As would usually be the case, think carefully before posting anything on the Internet.
Between us, the therapists of Mell Symonds Counselling & Holistic Therapies publish several blogs and post on Facebook. There is no expectation that you as a client will want to follow these blogs or Facebook feeds. However, if you use an easily recognizable name on Facebook and I happen to notice that you’ve followed me there, we may briefly discuss it and its potential impact on our working relationship.
My primary concern is your privacy. If you share this concern, there are more private ways to follow us on Facebook (such as using an RSS feed or a name not linking you to you), which would eliminate your having a public link to my content. You are welcome to use your own discretion in choosing whether to follow me. Note that we will not follow you back. I mainly follow other health professionals, journalists and various people of professional interest to us on Facebook and do not follow current or former clients on blogs or Facebook. The reasoning is the belief that casual viewing of clients’ online content outside of the therapy session can create confusion in regard to whether it’s being done as a part of your treatment or to satisfy the therapists own 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 the working relationship. If there are things from your online life that you wish to share with your counsellor, please bring them into your sessions where they can be viewed and explored together, during the therapy session.
Using your phone’s SMS system is a great way to keep in contact about appointments and therapy issues, such as your arrival at your destination or your achievements after an exam, for instance. That said; please do not use SMS via the web, or messaging on Social Networking sites such as Facebook, WhatsApp, Skype, or LinkedIn to contact us. These sites are not secure and the messages may not be read in a timely fashion.
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 notes.
If you need to contact your therapist between sessions, the best way to do so is by phone. Direct email at firstname.lastname@example.org is also good for quick, administrative issues such as changing appointment times a few days in advance, returning questionnaires and updating me on your travels, if this is applicable to our clinical work. See the email section below for more information regarding email interactions.
Use of search engines
It is NOT a regular part of our practice to search for patients on Google or Facebook or other search engines. Extremely rare exceptions may be made during times of crisis. If there is a reason to suspect that you are in danger and you have not been in touch with your therapist via the usual means (coming to appointments, phone, or email) there might be an instance in which using a search engine (to find you, find someone close to you, or to check on your recent status updates) becomes necessary as part of ensuring your welfare. These are unusual situations and if we ever resort to such means, we will fully document it and discuss it with you when we next meet.
Business review sites
You may find this counselling practice on sites such as Yelp, Yellow Pages, Yahoo Local, or other places which list businesses. Some of these sites include forums in which users rate their providers and add reviews.
You are more than welcome to tell anyone you wish who your psychologist is, or how you feel about the treatment provided to you, in any forum of your choosing, however, we urge you to take your own privacy as seriously as we take our commitment of confidentiality to you. 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. You are urged to create a pseudonym that is not linked to your regular email address or friend networks for your own privacy and protection.
Location-based services (LBS)
If you use location-based services on your mobile phone, you may wish to be aware of the privacy issues related to using these services. Google, Yelp, Flighradar24 or Apple Maps may show the practice address as we may use them occasionally to ethically advertise our services. 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 the office. Please be aware of this risk if you are intentionally “checking in,” from the office or if you have a passive LBS app enabled on your phone.
We prefer using email only to arrange or modify appointments, and send you materials such as questionnaires and occasional articles of direct relevance. Please do not email us content related to your therapy sessions, as email is not completely secure or confidential. If you choose to communicate with us by email, be aware that all emails are retained in the logs of your and our 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 we receive from you and any responses that I send to you become a part of your legal record.
Thank you for taking the time to review our Social Media Policy. If you have questions or concerns about any of these policies and procedures or regarding our potential interactions on the Internet, do bring them to the attention of your psychologist, so that they can be discussed.
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