Freedom Within Therapy and Wellness Center (FWC) uses various forms of digital media to communicate with our clients, including our website, our secure Client Portal, email, SMS/text, HIPAA compliant video conferencing software. We also use various social media accounts (ie: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram) which allow us to share practice information, news and event updates with other social media users. This document outlines our practice’s policy related to use of Digital Media. Please read it to understand how we conduct ourselves on social sites as mental health professionals and how you can expect us 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 FWC 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.
Our primary video conferencing software for our telehealth (video) appointments is doxy.me and google meets, both of which are HIPAA compliant platforms. Detailed information about this is available in our THM Informed Consent which is sent to clients prior to their first appointment.
Please do not use wall posting, @ replies, or messaging on Social Networking sites in order 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 become a part of your legal medical record and will need to be documented and archived in your chart. Use the practice’s phone number, your therapist’s phone extension, the email addresses at our practice domain, or the secure client portal messaging if you need to contact us. When sharing sensitive information the best way to do so is over the phone or via the secure client portal. Email from the client to a FWC team member is not a HIPAA compliant means of communication due to the lower level of security. Emails from a FWC team member sent to clients are considered encrypted by a third party encryption service; in this case the encryption designation shows at the footer of the email.
Therapists are not permitted to accept “friend” requests from current or former clients on their personal social networking sites (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, etc.). Adding clients as “friends” 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.
You are welcome to “like” or “follow” our social media feeds and read or share articles we post; 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 may 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 our practice.
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 in regard to whether it’s 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 the sessions where those things can be viewed and explored with your counselor, during the therapy session.
Use of Search Engines
It is NOT a regular part of our practice to search for clients on Google or Facebook or other search engines. Due to the fact that therapists are mandated reporters, extremely rare exceptions may be made during times of crisis. If a therapist has reason to suspect you are in danger and you have not been in touch with your therapist via 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 your therapist resorts to such means, the information will be fully documented and discussed with you during your next session.
Business Review Sites
You may find FWC on sites such as Google, 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 whether the business has added itself to the site. If you should find FWC 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. The American Counseling Association’s Ethics Code prohibits clinicians from requesting testimonials for marketing purposes.
If you are using these sites to communicate your feelings about your therapeutic experience with your therapist, the communication may not be seen by your therapist. 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 or to our administrative team if you do not feel comfortable addressing your therapist directly. 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, please reach out directly to the Clinical Director, Kendra Penski, at 619-363-1920 ext. 501 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. You are also within your right to reach out to The Board of Behavioral Sciences which receives and responds to complaints regarding services provided within the scope of practice of (marriage and family therapists, licensed educational psychologists, clinical social workers, or professional clinical counselors). You may contact the board online at www.bbs.ca.gov, or by calling (916) 574-7830.
The Department of Consumer Affairs’ Board of Psychology receives and responds to questions and complaints regarding the practice of psychology. If you have questions or complaints you may contact the Board on the Internet at www.psychology.ca.gov, by e-mailing email@example.com, calling 1-866-503-3221 or writing to the following address: Board of Psychology 1625 North Market Blvd, Suite N-215 Sacramento, CA 95834
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 may surmise that you are a client due to regular check-ins at our office on a weekly basis. 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.
Thank you for taking the time to review our Digital Media Policy. If you have any questions about anything within this document, you are encouraged to bring them up with your therapist or contact our administrative office. As new technology develops and the Internet changes, there may be times when this policy needs to be updated. Any updates or changes may be found in our office and/or on our website: https://freedomwithincenter.com