I’ve spent the past few days trying to socially connect our website, after reading a lot of articles about how important it is to be socially networked online. For a counseling practice, that presents some challenges. I don’t expect (nor want) our counseling clients to reveal their identities by posting comments or even registering on the website, and I would expect people to be even less comfortable in connecting with us on Facebook, where you’re supposed to use your real name. As a matter of fact, a counselor’s personal Facebook page probably personal and family information that they wouldn’t necessarily feel like sharing with all of their counseling clients. That’s why a business Facebook page is a necessity.
I don’t think that the American Psychological Association or the American Counseling Association have quite figured out how all of this is supposed to work yet. Our ethical standards are quite strict on confidentiality, and in fact most cases of malpractice involve some breach of confidentiality. We’ve had students who got into trouble for posting comments about clients on Facebook, even though the identities of the clients could never be known for sure. It still projects an unprofessional image and can’t be allowed.
But social media are the way to go these days. The APA and ACA have Facebook pages, and they use them to raise public awareness of the services provided by the counseling and psychology professions. But counselors and psychologists are supposed to avoid advertising that is unprofessional or makes claims of efficacy that can’t be supported. I’ve chosen to handle this by blogging about topics that should be of interest to many people. I’ve sometimes wandered into areas of public policy, and veered close to sounding political at times, but that’s something that any socially responsible practitioner may need to do at times. If you seriously disagree with some of my blog opinions, you might not want to come to me for counseling, even though I’m a real stickler for not imposing my values and beliefs on my clients at any time. But I figure it can work the other way, too… You may find that you agree with some of my positions on community issues and so decide that you might be comfortable working with me as a counselor. We’ve come a long way since the days when Sigmund Freud said that therapists had to be “blank slates” onto which clients could transfer their feelings. But we still need to help clients feel safe expressing their feelings without fear of offending the therapist’s values.
So, if you work with people and consider yourself a colleague, feel free to connect with us in any way you like. If you may have clients to refer at some point, so much the better! But if you are seeking counseling or psychotherapy, you are entitled to complete privacy and should only contact us by phone or other private channels.