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A Therapist’s Guide to Ethical Social Media Use

As Crystal Raypole on GoodTherapy.org (“A Therapist’s Guide to Ethical Social Media Use.” March 4, 2019) writes, “In a world that’s rapidly gone digital, it’s almost impossible to succeed as a business without some sort of social media use.” It can help us market our businesses by reaching far more people in a much shorter time than has ever before been possible.

FSTNW & Social Media

As a statewide professional association, Family Systems Therapists Northwest uses social media to reach its members and the professional community at-large. Discuss articles and news about therapy and your practice on the FSTNW Facebook Group and stay up to date on Salons and other educational events on the FSTNW Facebook Page.

Most recently, FSTNW launched an Instagram site to provide photos and quotes to inspire you in your practice. To mark our newest foray into social media, we thought it would be a good moment to reflect on how therapists use this technology.

Therapists and Social Media

As with any technology, we must take care to use social media in a way that is consistent with our status as members of the healing profession, that honors the sensitivity of the therapeutic relationship, and–most importantly–protects client confidentiality.

Raypole provides excellent recommendations for the proper and safe use of this digital power

  1. Set boundaries. Keep your professional online presence separate from your personal. Use professional language in all professional posts, and don’t accept friend requests from clients.
  2. Evaluate everything you “Like,” post, say, or respond to. You never know what might become public, and it could lead to embarrassment–or worse–if some offhanded comment to a colleague that was meant to be private were seen by clients, or aided in identifying a client.
  3. If you make a mistake, take a step back and breathe before you act. Evaluate the level of impact and/or harm of the mistake. A silly comment that may not bolster your professional image might fade away if you remove it immediately; however, a post that may have offended some of your more sensitive clients would probably not “blow over” with time, and might merit a formal apology.
  4. Educate yourself. GoodTherapy.org and other CEU providers often have workshops about social media.

Keeping these principles in mind can help us advance the goal we all have: to do good, not harm.

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