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Though therapists are generally trained to keep their personal lives out of the
consulting room for the benefit of their clients, the massive availability of information
about us on the internet means that this, virtually at least, can no longer happen.
This document acknowledges the complex world of digital media and tries its best to
address issues that may impact the therapeutic relationship. The guidelines are
based on research by Dr A Balick and the choices I have made with regard to my
online life; I am open to changing my positions on it. In the meantime, I ask all my
clients to read through this document so they can be familiar with these positions.
1. My media activities:
It is important for you to be aware that part of my working life outside of my therapy
is in the public domain. I am a presenter, blogger, lecturer and public speaker with
various public and media roles. As part of this work, I maintain an active social media presence on Instagram and Facebook. I also have ties with the entertainment side of the alcohol industry.
I have a creative background in dance, singing, movement and drama. This means
that you may see me on media platforms including internet, television and radio.
While I tend to use a stage name for these activities it is important that you are
I hold my duty of care and confidentiality to my clients and supervisees as
sacrosanct and consider part of my media work to be related to, but completely
separate from my clinical work. Should I make comments in public that reflect issues
shared with me in our work, please be assured that these are not reflective of our
work together and should you wish to discuss anything please do raise this as a
matter of urgency with me.
2. Keeping Boundaries:
The nature of an online presence can blur interpersonal boundaries, so it is
important to be as clear as possible about how boundaries may be challenged when,as a general rule, I like to keep clinical work in the consultation room as much as possible. However, the nature of the digital world can sometimes stretch these
boundaries, so I offer the best clarity I can below.
3 . Email:
I am not currently using an email encryption programme, so any emails we send to
each other may be vulnerable to viruses or human error. For this reason, it is best to
be thoughtful about what you include in emails to me, and which email address you
choose to use with me. Often, it is best to rely on email for non-confidential
communications like setting up appointment times and things like that. In an effort to
keep confidential and psychological material “in the room” it is best avoided in emails unless we discuss it beforehand. I will always request your preferred email address from our first session. If you choose to communicate with me by email, be aware that all emails are retained in the logs of Internet Service Providers. Furthermore, they can be vulnerable to viruses and unintended forwarding or replication. If you are concerned about the confidentiality of your emails, you may wish to contact me by telephone instead. I endeavour to respond to all emails within 24 hours when I am not away, in which case you will receive an automated reply. Emails should never be used in the event of an emergency; in which case you should contact emergency services.
I use an online software application to process my invoices that are then sent out to
your chosen email address. If you would prefer not to receive these invoices by
email, please let me know and I can post you a printed copy at the beginning of each calendar month.
5. Text messages:
You may feel free to contact me by text message to alert me if you are running late
for a session or for similar reasons. However, because of the lack of context of text
messages, it is generally not the best method for communicating with me about more
important matters, so please do phone and leave me a message. As a private
practitioner I am unable to offer an emergency service, even by phone.
I will respond to messages sent via WhatsApp; however this must remain as text. No
documents or images should be sent via these means.
6. Remote Working:
While I do not generally run my practice remotely, there may be times when we have a session by telephone or video conferencing, for example, if either one of us is abroad. Any such sessions will be discussed in advance.
I can use Zoom, Microsoft Teams or SKYPE to conduct remote sessions. I make
every effort to choose video conferencing software that is recognised to be
adequately encrypted – so this may involve you downloading certain software or
logging into a web-based application. I will also ensure that passwords are used for
all sessions. When engaging via video conferencing, we both agree not to use any recording devices for remote sessions. It is also crucial that you’re sure your environment from which you are conferencing with me is safe and secure. We will discuss these details should we decide to work in this manner.
7. Social Media:
I maintain a public Instagram profile and Facebook Page as a way of promoting
psychological ideas through the media, and to make people aware of workshops,
conferences, or other events that I may be taking part in, or that might be of interest
to followers. I frequently send across relevant links and sometimes engage in public
conversations on these topics. Despite my online presence, I would prefer that our
relationship remain as much as possible between us in the consultation room,
therefore I will not knowingly follow any current or former clients on social media.
Whether you follow me or not is of course to your discretion, though I would suggest
for reasons of confidentiality and preserving our therapeutic relationship that it’s
advisable not to. I also hold a Linked-In account for professional use. I aim to keep
my Facebook as private as possible and it would not be appropriate to be Facebook
“friends” with former or current clients I acknowledge that there can be some overlap across social networks, and that this sometimes comes to light on Facebook. If this were the case, it would be something we would need to discuss in session. As the above, I have decided that it would not be appropriate to add current or former clients as “connections” on Linked-In.
It is possible that you will have Googled me before our first contact. While I
acknowledge that Googling others is now a generally accepted aspect of daily life, I wish to avoid encountering information about you that does not come directly from
you. I do not Google clients before I meet them. It is of course your right to Google
me. However, if in your search some questions are to raise, I would request that you
raise them with me at the first opportunity.
This policy will be subject to periodic review.
Should you have any questions or suggestions, please contact me.
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