Social Media Policy
This page outlines Napa Valley Couples Therapy Center’s 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 you and your therapist on the Internet.
If you have any questions about anything within this statement, we encourage you to bring them up when you meet with your clinican. As new technology develops and the Internet changes, there may be times when we need to update this policy. If we do so, we will notify you in writing of any policy changes and make sure you have a copy of the updated policy.
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 the therapeutic relationship. If you have questions about this, please bring them up when you meet with your therapist and you can talk more about it.
Napa Valley Couples Therapy Center does keep a Facebook Page for our professional practice to allow people to share our blog posts and practice updates with other Facebook users. All of the information shared on this page is available on our website. You are welcome to view our Facebook Page and read or share articles posted there, but we do not accept clients as Fans of this Page. We believe having clients as Facebook Fans creates a greater likelihood of compromised client confidentiality and we feel it is best to be explicit to all who may view our list of Fans to know that they will not find client names on that list.
In addition, the American Psychological Association’s Ethics Code prohibits our soliciting testimonials from clients. We feel that the term “Fan” comes too close to an implied request for a public endorsement of my practice. Note that you should be able to subscribe to the page via RSS without becoming a Fan and without creating a visible, public link to our page. You are more than welcome to do this.
We publish a blog on our website and post psychology news on Twitter. We have no expectation that you, as a client, will want to follow our blog or Twitter stream. However, if you use an easily recognizable name on Twitter and we happen to notice that you’ve followed us there, your clinician may briefly discuss it and its potential impact on your working relationship with your therapist.
Social Media Policy
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. You are welcome to use your own discretion in choosing whether to follow us. Note that we will not follow you back. We only follow other health professionals on Twitter and we do not follow current or former clients on blogs or Twitter. Our reasoning is that we believe casual viewing of clients’ online content outside of the therapy hour can create confusion in regard to whether it’s being done as a part of your treatment or to satisfy your therapist’s personal curiosity. In addition, viewing your online activities without your consent and without an explicit arrangement towards a specific purpose could potentially have a negative influence on your working relationship with your therapist. If there are things from your online life that you wish to share with your therapist, please bring them into your sessions where you can view and explore them together, during the therapy hour.
Please do not use SMS (mobile phone text messaging) or messaging on Social Networking sites such as Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn to contact your therapist. These sites are not secure and we may not read these messages in a timely fashion. Do not use Wall postings, @replies, or other means of engaging with any of our clinicians or staff in public online if you have an already established client/therapist relationship. Engaging with your therapist in 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. If you need to contact us between sessions, the best way to do so is by phone. You may reach us at (510) 982-6401 or contact your therapist directly on the number they provided you.
Direct email at napacouplestherapy [at] gmail [dot com] is second best for quick, administrative issues such as changing appointment times. 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 clients on Google or Facebook or other search engines. Extremely rare exceptions may be made during times of crisis. If your therapist has a reason to suspect that you are in danger and you have not been in touch with them via your 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 ever resorted to such means, your clinician will fully document it and discuss it with you when you next meet.
We do not follow current or former clients on Google Reader and we do not use Google Reader to share articles. If there are things you want to share with your therapist that you feel are relevant to your treatment whether they are news items or things you have created, we encourage you to bring these items of interest into your sessions.
Business Review Sites
You may find our psychology practice on sites such as Yelp, Healthgrades, Yahoo Local, Bing, Google 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 Social Media whether the business has added itself to the site. If you should find our listing on any of these sites, please know that our listing is NOT a request for a testimonial, rating, or endorsement from you as our 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, we cannot respond to any review on any of these sites whether it is positive or negative.
We urge you to take your own privacy as seriously as we take our commitment of confidentiality to you. You should also be aware that if you are using these sites to communicate indirectly with your therapist about your feelings about your work together, there is a good possibility that your therapist may never see it. If you are working together with one of our therapists, we hope that 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 your therapist and you are not a good fit. None of this is meant to keep you from sharing that you are in therapy with us wherever and with whomever you like.
Confidentiality means that your therapist cannot tell people that you are their client and our Ethics Code prohibits us from requesting testimonials. But you are more than welcome to tell anyone you wish that you see your therapist or how you feel about the treatment they 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 therapist has done something harmful or unethical and you do not feel comfortable discussing it with them, you can always contact the Board of Psychology, which oversees licensing, and they will review the services we have provided.
Board of Psychology
1422 Howe Avenue, Suite 22 Sacramento, CA 95825
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 our 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 my office on a weekly basis. Please be aware of this risk if you are intentionally “checking in,” from my office or if you have a passive LBS app enabled on your phone.
We prefer using email only to arrange or modify appointments. Please do not email your therapist content related to your therapy sessions, as email is not completely secure or confidential.
If you choose to communicate with your clinician via email, be aware that all emails are retained in the logs of your and the therapist’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 therapist receives from you and any responses that they 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 your therapist’s attention so that you can discuss them.