Social Media and Ethics – Oh My!

Posted by: Dawn Schell on December 12, 2012 3:59 pm

A couple of posts ago I said I would be reading the “Ethical Framework for the Use of Scoial Media by Mental Health Professionals”[1] from the Online Therapy Institute and reporting back to you what I learned. 

One thing I learned right away is that I haven’t given this whole topic quite as much thought as it deserves! I had participated in a workshop on Social Media for career practitioners and that experience prompted me to be much more intentional about my use of Social Media.  But there was a lot I had not considered.  Reading the Ethical Framework has led me to rethink my approach to Social Media.

As it happens I am part of a group on LinkedIn where this topic was also being discussed.  Tamara G. Suttle, a therapist who writes the blog “All things Private Practice”, brought up the topic of Social Media in two recent blog posts.[2] The discussion arose from a counsellor who wondered what to do about a former client ‘following’ her on Twitter.  The ensuing discussion about boundaries between therapist and client was helpful in furthering my thinking about this topic.

From these posts I found out about Dr. Keely Kolmes’s work on Social Media for Clinicians.  While she works in the US I think what she has to say is relevant.  Dr. Kolmes offers a course in Social Media for Clinicians though you don’t need to take the course to read the articles and view her private practice social media policy.[3] I will definitely be creating a Social Media Policy of my own [feeling a little sheepish that I haven’t done it yet!]. 

DeeAnna Merz Nagel, of the Online Therapy Institute, has woven her own social media policy into her informed consent. [4]  In addition to social media issues she also mentions something I never even considered –client use of “location-based services” on their mobile phones. 

Of course everything that has been written about Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn also applies to Pinterest.  Whew.  So much technology to stay on top of!

I like what one commenter said in response to Tamara G. Suttle’s blog posts:

 “Preparing yourself for an online presence is just as important as other aspects of preparing for this profession” (Kat Mindenhall, LCSW)

Sounds like wise advice.


Dawn Schell, MA, CCC, CCDP is an affiliate of Worldwide Therapy Online Inc.

*The views expressed by our authors are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA

2 comments on “Social Media and Ethics – Oh My!”

  1. Dawn Schell says:

    Thanks for getting me thinking about all of this Tamara! I am certain this will be an ongoing conversation. There is so much to think about and think through with respect to Social Media.

  2. Hi, Dawn! Thanks so much for extending this conversation and sharing my links to my blog, too! Like you, Dawn, I continue to re-think and tweak my Social Media Policy thanks to the good work of Keeley Kolmes and DeeAnna Merz Nagel.

    So glad to find your blog here! I look forward to learning from you, networking with you, and sharing what I know, too!

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