Understanding Therapy Consent Forms
We continue our series on informed consents for treatment in therapy with the discussion of social media policies. If you want to read more about informed consent for treatment check out our previous blogs here.
Over the past few years there has been a significant increase in the amount of therapists in the social media space. Whether a therapist is on Facebook, Instagram, or even TikTok, they probably have some form of a social media policy in place to protect you and themselves from a breach in boundaries.
So what exactly is a social media policy, and why is it important?
A social media policy is a layer of legal/ethical understanding put into place in order to protect the therapeutic relationship between a client and their therapist. Therapists will often list this policy on their social media pages, in an informed consent, or through a verbal acknowledgement in session. This policy often looks something like this:
What a Social Media Policy looks like…
“In order to prevent breaches in confidentiality and the creation of any dual relationships, the therapist will not accept any “friend requests” or “follows” on any social media platform by any current or former client. If following a business account associated with the therapist, the therapist highly recommends to not engage in comments or direct messaging through these social media platforms as these are not regularly monitored and may put your confidentiality at risk of being breached. The therapist may not reply to any contacts made through various social media platforms. Do not use these platforms to request emergency resources.”
You may also see a version of these policies listed as “disclaimers” on a therapist’s social media accounts. These disclaimers often describe how to engage appropriately with these social media pages, expectations of interactions, ways to maintain confidentiality, and resources in case there is an emergency that needs immediate attention. Reading these policies and disclaimers is an important part of being informed as you enter into a therapy space.
Ultimately, these social media policies are in place to prevent the forming of dual relationships. Dual relationships are an ethical concern for mental health professionals, as it can deteriorate the professional relationship formed with a client. The professional and therapeutic relationship formed between a therapist and client should be the ONLY relationship formed between a therapist and client. Therapists should not form business relationships, friendships, or romantic relationships with their clients due to the risk of harming the client’s therapeutic progress and degrading a therapist’s professional lens when treating a patient. Therapist’s should always prioritize your growth and what is most therapeutically helpful.
If you aren’t sure if your therapist has a social media policy, always feel free to ask, so as not to cross a boundary that is ultimately in place for the betterment of your therapeutic work. For therapists, always be clear about what boundaries are in place to protect your client’s confidentiality and therapeutic process.