Confidentiality and Social Media Policy
Most businesses encourage their clients and customers to connect with them and to discuss their products on social media and other web based discussion forums. It's a bit different for therapists because we have rules about confidentiality which prevent us from discussing your personal issues in public. This document tells you about the rules I use in my practice and around confidentiality and social media to safeguard your information, and to help us keep our relationship professional.
If you have questions about any of this, please discuss them with me before booking a session, or at a session you have already booked.
Cookies are small text files that help organise and store browsing information when people visit a website. They are not programmes, and cannot damage your computer or any files you have on it, nor can they transmit viruses. Find out more about cookies in general here.
The cookies I have on my site don't collect any personal information or anything which can identify you as an individual. They don't add you to a mailing list nor do they enable me to contact you after your visit.
I also embed some links or content from other websites such as paypal, facebook or google. These are clearly identified, but if you click on them you may be presented with cookies from these other sites. I cannot control the dissemination or operation of these cookies and you should check with the websites they come from for more information about them.
Controlling individual cookies:
You can find out more about StatCounter, and set your browser to refuse their cookies by clicking this link: http://statcounter.com/about/set-refusal-cookie/
If you prefer not to deal with cookies on a 'site by site' basis you can use your browser to automatically control which cookies you accept from any site you visit. http://www.aboutcookies.org will advise you if you do not know how to do this.
When we work together I collect personal information from you to help me provide effective therapy. In handling this information, I am bound by two sets of rules, the Data Protection Act (DPA) and my professional body's code of ethics.
- I am registered with the ICO as a data handler
- I keep the information you give me for seven years, which is the length of time suggested by my professional body and insurance company
- You can have a copy of the information I hold at any time, by requesting it in writing. The ICO says I have up to a month to provide this, and it must be provided as electronic data in a commonly used format
- You have a right to compain to the ICO if you have any problem with the way I store or use your data
Professional Body -
The GHR ask me to keep the information you give me confidential unless one of the following applies:
- there is a legal requirement for me to share information e.g. where the Children's Act applies or a court order is issued
- there is good cause to believe that if I do not disclose information you or others would be exposed to a serious risk of harm
These exceptions to the confidentiality rule come under a provision called the 'Duty of Care'.
In addition, if you have been referred to me by a third party (e.g. your employer or GP) or if I am working with you as part of a care team, I will share prearranged levels of information with the others involved in looking after you.We'll discuss what this level is at our first meeting and before any therapy takes place.
My code of ethics also allows me to share anonymous case histories verbally or in hypnotherapy publications for the purposes of supervision or training. Anonymous means your personal details are removed and no information that might identify you is used. The Duty of Care provision applies to everyone but you can opt out of this other use of your information on the form you sign the first time we work together.
I have accounts with social media sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+, which are used for business purposes. I am happy to connect at any level with other therapists and those with a general interest in hypnotherapy or hypnotherapy training.
I do not accept friend requests from current or former therapy clients on these or any other social networking sites. My reason for this is that I believe that adding clients as friends can compromise confidentiality and blur the boundaries of our therapeutic relationship. If you have questions about this, please feel free to bring it up in-session and I'm happy to talk more about it.
You are welcome to view or like my Facebook business page, or to follow my Google+ business pages and to read and share the articles and comments there. You may leave general comments and questions but remember that anything you post is visible to everyone who visits the page. If you want to ask anything specific to you please email* or phone me. If I feel any posts you have made blur the line of our professional relationship or identify you as a client, I will delete them.
It is not a regular part of my practice to search for clients online, via search engines or social media. The exception to this would be if one of the Duty of Care provisions (above) applied.
*Please note that email is not completely secure or confidential. Records of any emails you send me are automatically kept in the logs of your own computer and mine. Although in practice it seems unlikely, in theory they could be read by the system administrator. With this in mind it's best not to use email to send any information that should be kept private. Any emails you send me that refer to your therapy will be printed and kept in your confidential records.
I use testimonials for my training, these are published on my training website and the way I use them is discussed on that site. I do not use testimonials for my therapy work since I believe that they are not a reliable guideline for clients who may be considering using my services.
- For example, without specific identification (i.e. if they appear as 'Ms A of B says...') they are pointless and could have been written by anyone. With identification (i.e. if they include a name and address) they breach a client's confidentiality.
- Therapists see a lot of clients and obviously only a limited number of testimonials can appear on a site at any one time. Therapists are unlikely to use testimonials from those who did not get a significant improvement in their situation, but this does not mean the published results are typical.
- Every person is different and so is every course of therapy, so another person's experience may not be the same as yours.
There may be links to my websites on other sites or directories which ask you to rate my services. My presence on these sites is not a request for testimonials, and in fact some sites may have added me to their database without my knowledge.
Please treat your own right to privacy and confidentiality with the same respect I do, and also bear in mind that I may not be aware of any posts you make on these sites. If we are working together, I hope that you will bring your feelings and reactions to our work directly into the therapy room. This can be an important part of therapy, even if we decide we are not a good fit.
If you do choose to write something on a business review site, I hope you will keep in mind that you may be sharing personally revealing information in a public forum. I urge you to create a pseudonym that is not linked to your regular email address or friend networks for your own privacy and protection.
None of this is meant to keep you from sharing that you are in therapy with me wherever and with whomever you like. Confidentiality means that I cannot tell people that you are my client and as mentioned I do not request testimonials. But you are more than welcome to tell anyone you wish that I'm your therapist, or how you feel about the treatment I provided to you.
If you feel I have done something harmful or unethical and you do not feel comfortable discussing it with me, you can always contact my professional bodies which oversee the way I work.
Social media policy adapted from a template provided by http://www.drkkolmes.com
If you are a therapist who would like to use this as as your own social media policy you are welcome to do so on condition that you include the following statement 'Social media policy by http://www.debbiewaller.com adapted from an original by http://www.drkkolmes.com.