My primary concern is your privacy. These days, with social media and mobile technology, maintaining privacy and boundaries calls for special attention to how we communicate and connect. In my professional life, I have different roles that call for different on-line presences. For clinical purposes, it is important to understand some of these, ways I might be visible, and how to maintain your privacy.
I have on-line presences on twitter and LinkedIn that are used for professional purposes related to my practice and my full-time job. I also have a presence on facebook that I use with discretion for communications, but this is not related to my counseling practice. I will not accept “friend” requests from current clients or from clients with whom I have had sessions more recent than 24 months. I also participate in a few professional blogs that express opinions and concerns related to socio-political issues. I discourage clients from having a public link to my content. You are welcome to use your own discretion in choosing whether to follow me. Note that I will not follow you back. I only follow other health professionals on Twitter and I do not follow current or former clients (more recent than 24 months) on any social network sites. My reasoning is that I believe casual viewing of clients’ online content outside of the therapy hour can create confusion in regard to whether it is being done as a part of your treatment or to satisfy personal 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 our working relationship. If there are things from your online life that you wish to share with me, please bring them into our sessions where we 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 me. These sites are not secure and I may not read these messages in a timely fashion. Do not use Wall postings, @replies, or other means of engaging with me in public online if we have an already established client/therapist relationship. Engaging with me 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 me between sessions, the best way to do so is by phone. Direct email at ogilviebrad5(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 my practice to search for clients on Google or Facebook or other search engines. Extremely rare exceptions may be made during times of crisis. If I have a reason to suspect that you are in danger and you have not been in touch with me via our 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 I ever resort to such means, I will fully document it and discuss it with you when we next meet.
I do not follow current or former clients on Google Reader and I do not use Google Reader to share articles. If there are things you want to share with me that you feel are relevant to your treatment whether they are news items or things you have created, I encourage you to bring these items of interest into our sessions.
Business Review Sites
You may find my practice on sites such as Yelp, Healthgrades, Yahoo Local, Bing, 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 Policy whether the business has added itself to the site. If you should find my listing on any of these sites, please know that my listing is NOT a request for a testimonial, rating, or endorsement from you as my client. It is against Ethics Codes to solicit testimonials from current clients/patients. Of course, you have a right to express yourself on any site you wish. But due to confidentiality, I cannot respond to any review on any of these sites whether it is positive or negative. I urge you to take your own privacy as seriously as I take my commitment of confidentiality to you. You should also be aware that if you are using these sites to communicate indirectly with me about your feelings about our work, there is a good possibility that I may never see it. If we are working together, I hope that you will bring your feelings and reactions to our work directly into the therapy process. This can be an important part of therapy, even if you decide we are not a good fit. None of this is meant to keep you from sharing that you are in therapy with me wherever and with whomever you like.
Confidentiality means that I cannot tell people that you are my client and my Ethics Code prohibits me from requesting testimonials. But you are more than welcome to tell anyone you wish that I’m your therapist or how you feel about the treatment I provided to you, in any forum of your choosing.
If you do choose to write something on a business review site, I hope you will keep in mind that you may be sharing personally revealing information in a public forum. I 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 I have done something harmful or unethical and you do not feel comfortable discussing it with me, you can always contact the DC Department of Health Licensing Board, which oversees licensing, and they will review the services I have provided.
Department of Health
Health Professional Licensing Administration
899 North Capitol St. NE
Washington, DC 20002
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. I do not place my 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.
I prefer using email only to arrange or modify appointments. Please do not email me content related to your therapy sessions, as email is not completely secure or confidential. If you choose to communicate with me by email, be aware that all emails are retained in the logs of your and my 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 I receive from you and any responses that I send to you become a part of your legal record.
Thank you for taking the time to review my 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 my attention so that we can discuss them.
Brad Ogilvie, MS, LMFT
1225 W St. NW
Washington, DC 20009
*This Social Media policy was adapted from Dr. Keely Kolmes, and is used with permission for professional purposes. This policy may not be adapted for commercial purposes.