In order to maintain clarity regarding our use of electronic modes of communication during your treatment, I have prepared the following policy. This is because the use of various types of electronic communications is common in our society, and many individuals believe this is the preferred method of communication with others, whether their relationships are social or professional. Many of these common modes of communication, however, put your privacy at risk and can be inconsistent with the law and with the standards of my profession. Consequently, this policy has been prepared to assure the security and confidentiality of your treatment and to assure that it is consistent with ethics and the law.
If you have any questions about this policy, please feel free to discuss this with me.
Email [and Text Message] Communications
I use email communication [and text messaging] only with your permission and only for administrative purposes unless we have made another agreement. That means that email exchanges [and text messages] with my office should be limited to things like setting and changing appointments, billing matters and other related issues. Please do not email [or text] me about clinical matters because this is not a secure way to contact me. If you need to discuss a clinical matter with me, please feel free to call me so we can discuss it on the phone or wait so we can discuss it during your therapy session. The telephone or face-to-face context simply is much more secure as a mode of communication.
Email [and text messaging] should not be used to communicate with me in an emergency situation. I make every effort to respond to emails[, texts] and phone calls within 24 hours, except on weekends and holidays. In case of an emergency, please call my phone line at [insert #]. If I am not immediately available by phone, please call 911, contact local crisis services [insert name of organization and phone #] or go to the nearest emergency room.
[For psychologists who do not wish to receive any text messages, delete bracketed text above referring to text messages and insert the following paragraph]
Because text messaging is a very unsecure and impersonal mode of communication, I do not text message to nor do I respond to text messages from anyone in treatment with me. So, please do not text message me unless we have made other arrangements.
I do not communicate with, or contact, any of my clients through social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook. In addition, if I discover that I have accidentally established an online relationship with you, I will cancel that relationship. This is because these types of casual social contacts can create significant privacy risks for you.
I participate on various social networks, but not in my professional capacity. 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 our time together. I believe that any communications with clients online have a high potential to compromise the professional relationship. In addition, please do not try to contact me in this way. I will not respond and will terminate any online contact no matter how accidental.
I have a website that you are free to access. I use it for professional reasons to provide information to others about me and my practice. You are welcome to access and review the information that I have on my website and, if you have questions about it, we should discuss this during your therapy sessions.
I will not use web searches to gather information about you without your permission. I believe that this violates your privacy rights; however, I understand that you might choose to gather information about me in this way. In this day and age, there is an incredible amount of information available about individuals on the internet, much of which may actually be known to that person and some of which may be 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 our time together so that we can deal with it and its potential impact on your treatment.
Recently it has become common for clients to review their health care provider on various websites. However, mental health professionals cannot respond to such comments because of confidentiality restrictions. It is also generally preferable for clients to discuss their concerns directly with their health care provider. If you have concerns or questions about any aspect of our work together or about any previously posted online reviews of my practice, please let me know so that we can discuss them. I recommend that you do not rate my work with you on any website for several reasons. If you rate my work on a website while you are in treatment with me, it has the potential to affect our therapeutic relationship. If you choose to post an online review about me or another health care provider either while you are in treatment or afterwards, please keep in mind that you may be revealing confidential information about your treatment.
Thank you for keeping this policy in mind and for letting me know of any concerns.
*Please note: While this is a Trust product, it is written as a very general and generic policy. Therefore, you should feel free to modify it in a fashion that is consistent with your own clinical practice and any available state regulations. If you have any questions about this policy, please call and speak with one of our risk management advocates at 1-800-477-1200.