The use of social media and electronic communication is a convenient and often preferred way of communicating. However, privacy and confidentiality are not guaranteed in these forms of communication. I do not communicate with, or contact clients through social media or networking platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest, etc. Additionally, if I discover that I have accidentally established an online relationship with you, I will cancel that relationship. This is due to the significant security risk these types of casual social contacts can create for you.
I may participate on various social networks for personal and marketing purposes, but not in my professional capacity as a Counsellor. If you have an online presence, there is a possibility that you may encounter me by accident. If that occurs, please discuss it with me during your next session. I have researched this issue and concluded that social media communications with clients have a high potential to compromise the professional relationship. Please do not attempt to contact me in this way.
If you have any questions about anything in this policy, please bring them up with me. As new technology develops and the Internet changes, there may be times when I may need to update this policy. Clients will be notified in writing of any policy changes. The website will also be updated to reflect any changes.
I do not accept invitations from current or former clients to participate in online social networks, nor do I invite clients to participate in my own personal online social networks (e.g., Facebook, Twitter). The practice of adding clients as friends or contacts on these sites can compromise your confidentiality and our respective privacy. It may also blur the boundaries of the therapeutic relationship. If you need to contact me between sessions, please email, phone or text (depending on the preference we agree prior). If you have questions about this, please bring them up in your next session.
I, at times, post articles related to wellness and psychology on this website, on the Lee Hopkins Counselling Facebook page and may make other posts on Twitter or Instagram. I have no expectation that you as a client will follow these posts. My primary concern is your privacy. You are welcome to use your own discretion in choosing whether to follow my posts.
I do not follow current or former clients on blogs or Twitter. If there are things from your online life that you wish to share with me, please bring them into your session where we can view and explore them together, during the therapy hour.
Please do not use messaging on social media or networking sites to contact me. These sites are not secure, and the messages may not be read in a timely fashion. Do not use Wall postings, @replies, or other means of engaging with me in public online if you have an established therapeutic relationship. Engaging with me in these ways can compromise your privacy, and may also create the possibility that the exchanges will need to be documented and archived in your client records, becoming a part of your legal, medical record.
I recognize that viewing clients’ online activities without their consent, and without 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 me, please bring them into your sessions where we can view and explore them together, during the therapy time.
I have a professional website that you are free to access to obtain information about my practice. You are welcome to access and review the information on the website and, if you have questions about it, please discuss them with me during your therapy sessions. The website includes a contact form to use if you do not have my counselling email address. Please include my name and the word ‘confidential’ in the subject field. For example: ‘Attn: Lee Hopkins, Confidential’.
USE OF SEARCH ENGINES
I will not use web searches to gather information about you without your permission. It is my belief that this violates your privacy rights; however, I understand that you might choose to gather information about me in this way. There is an incredible amount of information available about individuals online, much of which may actually be known to that person and some of which may be completely inaccurate or unknown. If you encounter any information about me through web searches, or in any other fashion for that matter, please discuss this with me during a session so that you can discuss its potential impact on your treatment.
Although it is not a regular practice for me to search for clients on Google or Facebook or other search engines, extremely rare exceptions may be made during times of crisis, for example, if I have a reason to suspect that you are in danger or if it becomes necessary as part of ensuring your welfare. These are unusual situations and if I ever resort to such means, I will fully document it and discuss it with you in person as early as is feasible.
BUSINESS REVIEW SITES
You may find Lee Hopkins Counselling on sites such as Yelp, Google, Yahoo Local, Bing, Yellow Pages, 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.
You have a right to express yourself on any site you wish. Please note that by posting publicly about your counsellor or counselling experience, you may inadvertently expose your private information. I urge you to take your own privacy as seriously as I take the commitment of confidentiality. You should also be aware that if you are using these sites to communicate indirectly with me about your feelings about our work, there is a good possibility that I may never see it.
The therapeutic alliance is essential to the success of therapy. The relationship is so important in counselling that there must be a good fit. Not every counsellor is a good fit for every client. What works for one person in therapy may not work for another. Counselling is a subjective and unique experience.
If you have a concern about me or a session, the best approach would be to discuss that concern in person with me. Discussing reactions with your counsellor, whether they are positive or negative, can be an important part of therapy. Even if you choose not to return to me, it is important to let me know directly why you felt it was not a good fit. By doing so, you may provide helpful information to me and may also gain a sense of closure.
Sometimes clients may not feel safe or able to speak directly to me. They then have the option of contacting me at firstname.lastname@example.org. If there is an ethical issue or a client feels that something wrong has occurred, the best way to proceed would be to file a complaint with my professional association, the Psychotherapy And Counselling Federation of Australia (PACFA). They will investigate and take action if they deem it necessary. Please note that when filing a formal complaint, it is possible that details of therapy may be revealed in the investigation.
Protecting your confidentiality means that I cannot tell people that you are a client. But you are welcome to tell anyone you wish who your counsellor is or how you feel about the treatment provided to you, in any forum of your choosing. But, please do not rate or review my work with you on any of the above-mentioned websites while you are in still in treatment. Doing so has a significant potential to damage your ability to work together, and may jeopardize your own privacy.
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. Lee Hopkins Counselling is not placed as a check-in location on sites such as Foursquare, Facebook, Google , Gowalla, Loopt, etc. However, if you have GPS tracking enabled on your device, it is possible that others may conclude that you are a therapy client due to your location.
Thank you for taking the time to review my Social Media and Online Technology Policy. If you have questions or concerns about any of these policies and procedures or regarding our potential interactions online, please bring them to my attention so that you can discuss them.