This page outlines EACC office policies related to use of Social Media. Please read it to understand how therapists conduct themselves on the Internet as mental health professionals and how you can expect therapists to respond to various interactions that may occur between clients and clinicians on the Internet. This policy is not meant to keep you from sharing that you are in therapy at the EACC or with a particular therapist wherever and with whomever you like. Confidentiality means that we cannot tell people that you are a client. You are encouraged to take your own privacy as seriously as we take our commitment of confidentiality to you.

Friending

Therapists do not accept friend or contact requests from current or former clients on any social networking site (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc.). 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 you meet with your therapist.

Liking/Following

The EACC has a Facebook Page for our professional practice. You are welcome to “like” or “follow” our Facebook Page and read or share articles posted there. However, because social media sites are public spaces, anyone who can see our social media pages can see your post or comment. In addition, when you post, comment, or “like” a page, it will be published on your page as well. Our primary concern is your privacy. You are welcome to use your own discretion in choosing whether to follow the EACC on social media. The EACC reserves the right to remove posts/comments deemed inappropriate.

In order to maintain ethical boundaries, therapists are not permitted to follow you back. We believe casual viewing of clients’ online content outside of the therapy hour can create confusion about whether it is being done as a part of your treatment or to satisfy 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 therapeutic relationship. If there are things from your online life that you wish to share with your therapist, please bring them into session where we can view and explore them together during the therapy session.

Texting/Messaging

Please do not use SMS (mobile phone text messaging), wall postings, @replies, or messaging on social networking sites to contact your therapist. Engaging with your therapist in this way could compromise your confidentiality and the therapist may not even receive your message. It may also create the possibility that these exchanges may become a part of your official client record and will need to be documented and archived in your chart.

Email

Please do not email content related to your counseling sessions to your therapist. Email communication from most email servers is not secure or confidential. At times, therapists may email resources (articles, book referrals, self-help resources, etc.) to clients with the clients’ permission through our HIPPA secure email account. Any emails we receive from you and any responses we send to you may become a part of your official client record and may be revealed in cases where your records are summoned by a legal entity.

Use of Search Engines

It is not a regular part of EACC practice to search for clients on Google or Facebook or other search engines. We think it is important that we know you as you are in our office. If we do inadvertently come across your information online, we will move on and avoid reading content. Business Review Sites You may find the EACC or your therapist on sites such as Yelp, Healthgrades, Yahoo Local, Bing, or other places that 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. If you should find the EACC on any of these sites, please know that this listing is not a request for a testimonial, rating, or endorsement from you as a client.

If you are using these sites to communicate your feelings about your therapeutic experience with your therapist, your therapist may not see the communication. You have a right to express yourself on any site you wish; however, due to confidentiality, we cannot respond to any review on any of these sites whether it is positive or negative. Our hope is that you will bring your feelings and reactions concerning your treatment directly into the therapy process. This can be an important part of treatment, even if you decide to go elsewhere.

If you do choose to write something on a business review site, please keep in mind that you may be sharing personally revealing information in a public forum. If you feel your therapist has done something harmful or unethical, and you do not feel comfortable discussing it with your therapist, you can contact the licensing board that corresponds to your therapists’ professional license.

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. If you have GPS tracking enabled on your device, it is possible that others will surmise that you are a client due to regular check-ins at our office. Please be aware of this risk if you are intentionally “checking in” from our office or if you have a passive LBS app enabled on your phone.

Conclusion

Thank you for taking the time to review our Social Media Policy. If you have any questions about anything within this document, you are encouraged to bring them up with your therapist. As new technology develops and the Internet changes, there may be times when this policy needs to be updated. Any updates or changes will be posted in our office and on our website: uab.edu/eacc.