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 in an online environment. I 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.
I am not currently using an e-mail 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.
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.
Telephone and Skype
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 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. When engaging via video conferencing, we both agree not to use any recording devices for remote sessions.
I use an online software application to process my invoices that are then sent out to your chosen e-mail address. If you would prefer not to receive these invoices by email, please let me know and I can bring you a printed copy at the beginning of each calendar month.
I maintain a Twitter profile 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 Twitter. 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 you do not.
Facebook and LinkedIn
I, like many others, maintain a private Facebook account for personal reasons, and a Linked-In account for professional ones. 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 likely that you will have Googled me before you contacted me. While I acknowledge that Googling others is now a generally accepted aspect of daily life, I wish to avoid encountering information about my clients that does not come directly from them. In general practice I do not Google my clients before I meet them. It is of course your right to Google me. However, if in your search some questions are raised, I would request that you raise them with me at the first opportunity.
The world is changing fast: my own responses to it are in constant development and I will continue to update this digital policy as I learn more, and would appreciate your honesty and input along the way. Should you have any questions or suggestions, please do let me know.