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The Ethics Curriculum

Facebook and Google and Twitter - Oh My - Ethical Issues for Clinicians

Who could have predicted this? Understand the impact of Facebook and the Internet on our clinical work. We need our ethical center more than ever.

Program Description

The Internet and social networking offer new ethical and clinical challenges for those who provide face-to-face mental health services. As the line between public and private continues to blur in our culture, the tremendous availability of personal information online threatens to alter the sacred relationship between therapist and patient. Now, with the click of a mouse, tech-savvy therapists and patients are challenging the old rules and raising serious questions about how much each should know about the other and where boundaries should be drawn. In this program, four clinicians share their observations and experience.

Learning Objectives

This program provides clinicians with the opportunity to:

Understand the impact of Facebook and the Internet on our clinical work.

Understand the problems for therapists who use social networking.

Learn how to understand and deal with patients who request the therapist have a relationship with him or her via social networks.

Be able to distinguish between one’s personal and professional activities on the Internet.

Identify the ethical challenges that may arise from engaging in activities on the Internet.

Develop strategies for minimizing the risk of ethical violations on the Internet.


A Social Media Policy for Clinicians - Keely Kolmes, Psy,D.

Social media and the Internet can be unpredictable. The complexities arising out of our personal and professional use of social networking and the Internet mean we should envision how this use might play out with our patients. We need to ask ourselves a series of “what if” questions. For example, what if you say on your Facebook page you need to have an operation, and you have not yet informed your patients? Is this how you want your patients to find out about this?

Ethical Standards for the Internet and Social Media - Frederic Reamer, Ph.D. website

With more and more people “tweeting," “Facebooking,” and communicating in future, unimaginable ways, social networking and the Internet are here to stay and will continue to be alive. Thus, it’s important to have an ethical center in order to navigate through it in the best way. Here, we return to a frequent On Good Authority expert, Frederic Reamer.

My Patient wants to ‘Friend’ Me - Curt Kearney, MA, LCPC

What do you do when you receive an email informing you a patient wants to ‘friend’ you? It sounds innocent enough, but unless you adopt certain privacy options, you’re opening a door to all your contacts, friends, family, and personal information when you agree to “friend” someone. Is this what you want in your relationships with your patients? What if you decline the person’s request of “friendship?” How do you handle the feelings this may stir up in the patient? In this interview, Curt Kearney, MA, LCPC shares with us how he felt and how he handled it when a patient asked to be his Facebook friend.

Social Media Enhances Clinical Work - Lisa Johnson, Ph.D., LMFT

Lisa Johnson, PhD views social media as a tool for creating community, openly including current and former clients as “friends” on Facebook. She focuses her “status updates” on affirming life messages, hoping to create a community for individuals to read and share resources. Less rigid than some psychotherapists, she is readily self-disclosing and uses stories from her own life when it’s pertinent and seems useful in the therapeutic process. At the same time, she carefully adheres to the ethical guidelines from the American Association of Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT), which discourage dual relationships due to issues of power.

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Client Testimonials

“The programs and format are simply excellent, to the point, and informative.”

... Milo Y.

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