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Woman Smiling
Woman Smiling

Privacy Policy

Confidentiality & Privacy Policy*

The law protects the relationship between a client and a therapist, and information cannot be disclosed without written permission.

Exceptions include:

  • Suspected child abuse or dependent adult or elder abuse, for which I am required by law to report this to the appropriate authorities immediately.
  • If a client is threatening serious bodily harm to another person/s, I must notify the police and inform the intended victim.
  • If a client intends to harm himself or herself, I will make every effort to enlist their cooperation in ensuring their safety. If they do not cooperate, I will take further measures without their permission that are provided to me by law in order to ensure their safety.

*A detailed Informed Consent for services will be provided to you to sign which further explains my privacy policy.

Social Media Policy

This section outlines my policies related to use of Social Media. Please read it to understand how I conduct myself on the Internet as a mental health professional and how you can expect me to respond to various interactions that may occur between us on the Internet. If you have any questions about anything within this document, I encourage you to bring them up when in our sessions. As new technology develops and the Internet changes, there may be times when I need to update this policy, as well as the Informed Consent for Services. If I do so, I will notify you in writing of any policy changes and make sure you have a copy of the updated policy.

Location:

If you search for my location online, you may find inaccurate information. My city and state may be listed but my physical address may not. That is because my practice is mainly online. Currently, I am not seeing clients in person at an office location.

I may on occasion post information online about a workshop or seminar I am conducting in person. These events are usually not attended by current or former clients and may be open to the local community and general public. If you respond to one of these postings or attend one of these events, be mindful of sharing any information that may reveal you are my client if you wish for that to remain private.

Video Calls:

I do not use programs like Skype, Facetime, Google Hangouts, etc. to communicate with clients as these programs are not HIPAA compliant. This means that these programs do not follow federal guidelines for being secure and private. We will use the secure, online platform that you signed up with to communicate and have sessions.

Friend Requests:

I do not accept friend or contact requests from current or former clients/subscribers/customers on any social networking site (Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.). I believe that adding clients as friends or contacts 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 in our sessions and we can talk more about it.

You can use my business name (The SWEET Network, LLC) to connect with me online. You are free to like my Facebook business page: https://www.facebook.com/sweetnetwork/ or follow my business on social media: Twitter: https://twitter.com/thesweetn3c. You are welcome to read or share articles and posts. Please do not post anything on my business pages that may reveal that you are my client.

You are also free to sign up for my newsletter either by going directly to my website: www.thesweetnetwork.com or by stating “Yes” to the question in the informed consent asking if you would like your email to be added to the newsletter list.

By liking or following my business pages or signing up for my newsletter, you will be able to stay updated on products and services as well as occasionally receiving useful resources.

You are not required nor do I expect you to like or follow my business pages or sign up for my newsletter. Doing or not doing these things will not affect your receipt of services with me.

Following:

I publish a blog on my website and I post inspirational quotes/pictures on Twitter and Pinterest. I have no expectation that you as a client will want to follow my blog, Twitter, or Pinterest accounts. However, if you use an easily recognizable name and I happen to notice that you’ve followed me, we may briefly discuss it and its potential impact on our working relationship.

My primary concern is your privacy. If you share this concern, there are more private ways to follow me on my blog or Twitter (such as using an RSS feed or a locked Twitter list), which would eliminate your having a public link to my content. You are welcome to use your own discretion in choosing whether to follow me. I will not follow current or former clients/subscribers/customers. My reasoning is that I believe casual viewing of clients’ online content outside of therapy can create confusion as to whether it’s being done as a part of your treatment or to satisfy my 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 our sessions.

Communicating:

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 file.

If we already have an online working relationship through the platform you signed up for, you can contact me through that service. Some of these platforms allow you to mark messages as urgent if you need me to respond right away. Otherwise, if it is a true emergency, contact your local authorities FIRST. If you need to cancel or reschedule an appointment, you can message me through the service or use my scheduling calendar to make the change yourself. Just let me know the reason for the change and try to give 24-48 hours’ notice.

Reviews/Testimonials:

Posting a review online (ex. Yelp, Google Business, Yahoo Business, etc.) or on the online platform where you received my services is your right as a client and it is entirely up to you to decide whether you wish to write a review/testimonial. You should review the following points when deciding whether to write a review/testimonial.

1. The Code of Ethics of The National Association of Social Workers (NASW) discourages social workers from requesting/soliciting reviews or testimonials of services:

 “(b) Social workers should not engage in solicitation of testimonial endorsements (including solicitation of consent to use a client’s prior statement as a testimonial endorsement) from current clients or from other people who, because of their particular circumstances, are vulnerable to undue influence.” (NASW, 2008).

2. I do not request reviews/testimonials from any clients, even if you ended services with me, because you may return to services in the future.

3. Unlike other business owners who may respond to online reviews from places like Yelp, as a social worker, I must provide confidentiality to my clients. This means I am restricted from responding in any way that acknowledges whether someone has worked with me or been in my care.

4. I hope that if we work together, you feel comfortable enough to share your feelings about our work together directly with me. This helps the therapeutic relationship and ensures you get quality services. Even if quality services means that I have to assist you with finding another therapist.

5. If you still choose to write something about my practice online, remember that it is public and you may be sharing personally revealing information with a large audience. To maintain your privacy, consider using a pseudonym that is not linked to your regular email address or network of friends.

If you believe that I (or any licensed mental health professional) have done something harmful, consider contacting your state licensing board to make a formal complaint. This may protect other consumers of mental health services. Be aware that details of your therapy may come up if there is a formal investigation. Links to my licensing boards can be found in your copy of the informed consent.

Internet Searches:

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 (session appointments, phone, or email, live chat) 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 communicate.

Conclusion:

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.

 

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