Presentation on theme: "Clinical Ethics in a Digital World"— Presentation transcript:
1 Clinical Ethics in a Digital World Randy N. Walton, Ph.D.Sarah W. Bisconer, Ph.D.Friday March 15, 20139:00 am until 11:30 pm
2 Training ObjectivesProvide a brief overview of digital and social media platforms (e.g., Internet, Facebook, Twitter, ) that may impact clinical practiceReview existing practice guidelines for use of digital and social media in clinical practicePresent a model for applying existing ethical principles to digital and social media in clinical practiceReview and discuss challenging clinical questions and scenarios involving digital and social media
3 Handouts in Packet Guiding Principles and Digital Media Key Definitions and GlossarySample Agency PolicySample Private Practice PolicyGuidelinesDiscussion
4 Context Questions“Psychotherapists as a group have not been known to be highly adaptive or flexible. Many new ideas, approaches, and techniques are often met with resistance and skepticism. In spite of the token commitment to individual differences and cultural diversity, [clinicians] often fail to acknowledge or say ‘This is foreign to me’, ‘I don’t understand’, or ‘I am intimidated’ but instead often say ‘It is inappropriate and unethical’”.Zur, O. (2012) TelePsychology or TeleMentalHealth in the Digital Age: The Future is Here. California Psychologist, 45/1, p. 14.In general, would you say this statement is:TrueFalseAs applied to you, would you say this statement is:
5 Context Question: Better-Worse vs Context Question: Better-Worse vs. Advantages-Disadvantages Which of these advantages and disadvantages are relevant in psychotherapy?In-person Relationships**Cyberspace Relationships*BetterMore real/Less superficialAll five sensesIn-person interactive kinesthetic activitiesNon-verbal/pre-verbal communicationMore intimateMore connectedLimited by physical proximityIsolation/withdrawal due to fear/awkwardness in IPRHealthierUnhealthier**Invokes physical presence (IPR)BetterMore real/Less superficialPrimarily two sensesVirtual interactive physical activitiesLimited non-verbal/pre-verbalMore intimateMore connectedNot limited by physical proximityCSR due to fear/awkwardness in IPRHealthierUnhealthier*Invokes place and spatial interaction (CSR)
6 Challenges in Developing and Using Ethical Guidelines In clinical practice, the proliferation of digital media in society requires a significant shift in ethical thinking and practice to help clinicians:Identify potential ethical dilemmas and concernsIdentify relevant existing ethical principlesIdentify applicable existing ethical guidelinesAppropriately apply, extrapolate, and modify existing principles and guidelines
7 Practical Use of Ethics Codes Ethics codes cannot do our questioning, thinking, feeling, and responding for us. Such codes can never be a substitute for the active process by which the individual therapist or counselor struggles with the sometimes bewildering, always unique constellation of questions, responsibilities, contexts, and competing demands of helping another person. Ethics must be practical. Clinicians confront an almost unimaginable diversity of situations, each with its own shifting questions, demands, and responsibilities. Every clinician is unique in important ways. Every client is unique in important ways. Ethics that are out of touch with the practical realities of clinical work, with the diversity and constantly changing nature of the Therapeutic venture, are useless. (Pope & Vasquez, 1998, xiii–xiv)Kaslow, F., Patterson, T., & Gottlieb, M. (2011). Ethical dilemmas in psychologists accessing internet data: Is it justified? Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, 42,
8 Purposes of and Challenges to Professional Ethical Codes Codes of ethics are designed to benefit the client, protect the client, and protect the integrity of the therapeutic process.The development of codes of ethics is generally delayed and reactive to changing social norms, practices, and the innovations brought about by emerging technologies.The use and rapidly evolving technology associated with digital media are new enough that there are currently no broadly accepted guidelines regarding how digital media can or should be used ethically in behavioral health
9 Professional Codes of Ethics Current ethical codes offer limited or no specific guidelines for clinicians’ use of digital technology:ACAA.12 – Focuses on multiple uses of technology, but no information specifically addresses counselor’s use of social networkingAAMFT, APA, NASWDiscuss universal concepts such as “dual or multiple relationships” and “client’s right to privacy”, but nothing specifically on clinicians’ use of digital technology or social networking
10 Other Guidance Regarding Clinical Use of Digital Technology Ohio Psychological Association (2010):National Association of Social Workers and Association of Social Work Boards - Standards for Technology and Social Work Practice:Canadian Psychological Association – Providing Psychological Services via Electronic Media:American Telemedicine Association - Practice Guidelines for Videoconferencing-Based Telemental Health:American Telemedicine Association – Evidence Based Practice for Telementalhealth:International Society for Mental Health Online - Suggested Principles for the Online Provision of Mental Health Services:For a more comprehensive list of available guidelines see: Pope, K. Ethical Standards & Practice Guidelines for Assessment, Therapy, Counseling, & Forensic Practice.
11 Ethical PrinciplesPrinciple-based Ethics is based on a commitment to five overarching, common, basic prima facie moral principles:Beneficence: Responsibility to do good and promote others’ welfareNonmaleficence: Obligation to do no harm or act in ways that have a high risk of harming othersAutonomy: Support others’ informed, non-coerced freedom of thought and action; promote independenceFidelity: Be faithful to commitments and promises, do not deceive or exploit, be trustworthyJustice: Act fairly or justly, especially balancing rights and interests of clients and others; afford all individuals the opportunity for equal access to the same high-quality treatment
12 VignetteIt’s 10:00 on a Friday night. A child psychologist sits at her home computer checking Facebook updates and thinking about upcoming weekend plans. Distracted by thoughts about a particularly intense session that afternoon with a teenage client, wherein he’d disclosed some distressing recent peer interactions, she decides on a whim to try to view his Facebook page. She finds it easily, set up without privacy restrictions, and is troubled when she reads his latest status update: “I’m going to sleep now See you all on the other side.” The psychologist continues to read back through her client’s Facebook wall and is horrified to find a series of taunting and harsh comments left by some of the client’s “friends” over the past few weeks. After viewing this disturbing content for a short while, the clinician feels uncertain about her professional obligation and worriedly wonders what she should do to help ensure her client’s safety.From: Rachel A. Tunick, Lauren Mednick, and Caitlin Conroy (2011). A Snapshot of Child Psychologists’ Social Media Activity: Professional and Ethical Practice Implications and Recommendations. Professional Psychology: Research and Practice,
13 Major Ethical Issues in a Digital World Informed ConsentBoundariesDual/multiple relationshipsTherapist self-disclosureConfidentialityThe following slides briefly consider these issues in anon-digital context
14 Informed Consent: Factors to consider Assess Competence: Before engaging in the remote delivery of mental health services via electronic means, practitioners should carefully assess their competence to offer the particular services and consider the limitations of efficacy and effectiveness that may be a function of remote delivery.Check Liability Insurance: Practitioners should consult with their professional liability insurance carrier to ascertain whether the planned services will be covered. Ideally, a written confirmation from a representative of the carrier should be obtained.Seek Consultation: Practitioners are advised to seek consultation from colleagues and to provide all clients with clear written guidelines regarding planned emergency practices (e.g., suicide risk situations).Develop Written Plan: Because no uniform standards of practice exist at this time, thoughtful written plans that reflect careful consultation with colleagues may suffice to document thoughtful professionalism in the event of an adverse incident.Cite Confidentiality Limitations: A careful statement on limitations of confidentiality should be developed and provided to clients at the start of the professional relationship. The statement should inform clients of the standard limitations (e.g., child abuse reporting mandates), any state-specific requirements, and cautions about privacy problems with broadcast conversations (e.g., overheard wireless phone conversations or captured Internet transmissions).Specify Services Offered: Clinicians should thoroughly inform clients of what they can expect in terms of services offered, unavailable services (e.g., emergency or psychopharmacology coverage), access to the practitioner, emergency coverage, and similar issues.Clarify Billing for Services: If third parties are billed for services offered via electronic means, practitioners must clearly indicate that fact on billing forms. If a third-party payer who is unsupportive of electronic service delivery is wrongly led to believe that the services took place in vivo as opposed to on-line, fraud charges may ultimately be filed.Koocher, G., & Morray, E. (2000). Regulation of telepsychology: A survey of state attorneys general. Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, 31,
15 Informed Consent: Additional Factors to Consider “Several critical issues need to be addressed: Many technologies are powerful but fragile; crucial information can be lost or intercepted; not all Web sites providing information are reliable; service providers can easily misrepresent themselves and their credentials online; confidentiality in an electronic medium can quickly evaporate; jurisdiction, liability and malpractice issues blur when state lines and national boundaries are crossed electronically; numerous digital divides can thwart access and success; and clients and social workers alike may have unrealistic expectations for what a technology can actually provide.”NASW and Association of Social Work Boards Standards for Technology and Social Work Practice. p.6For a sample Social Media Policy available for download and use, see Handouts or:K. Kolmes - Social Media Policy:
16 Dual Relationships and Therapist Self Disclosure Boundaries are addressed in all professional ethics codesDual/multiple relationships and therapist self-disclosureInvolve at least Boundary crossingPossibly involve Boundary violation“Boundary violations” are clearly unethical and must be avoided.“Boundary crossings” are inevitable and must be monitored, managed, and deliberate when possible.Boundary crossings can be important and appropriate to enhance therapeutic effectiveness.In some situations it may be violating ethical principle of Beneficence to not cross a boundary if it would benefit a client.Zur, O. (2009). Therapeutic boundaries and effective therapy: Exploring the relationships. In W. Donohue & S. Graybar (Eds.), Handbook of contemporary psychotherapy: Toward an improved understanding of effective psychotherapy (pp ). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.Zur, O., Williams, M., Lehavot, K., & Knapp, S. (2009). Psychotherapist self-disclosure and transparency in the internet age. Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, 40,
17 Dual Relationships: Boundaries Boundaries: “a flexible set of conditions that…establish rules and role expectations that the patient may rely upon for the safety required for treatment”Glass, L. L. (2003). The gray areas of boundary crossings and violations. American Journal of Psychotherapy, 57, 429.No longer inflexible prohibitions derived from strict analytic and risk management rules, e.g., “Never touch your client”, “Never give or accept gifts”The 2005 ACA Code of Ethics regarding potentially beneficial boundary crossings:"Examples of potentially beneficial interactions include, but are not limited to, attending a formal ceremony (e.g., a wedding/commitment ceremony or graduation); purchasing a service or product provided by a client or former client (excepting unrestricted bartering); hospital visits to an ill family member; mutual membership in a professional association, organization, or community.”American Counseling Association. (2005). ACA code of ethics. Alexandria, VA: American Counseling Association.
18 ConfidentialityConfidentiality issues will be discussed in relation to various digital media platformsKeely Kolmes, Psy.D. addresses limits of confidentiality in her Private Practice Social Media Policy and on her website.Issues of confidentiality in specific situations are also addressed at her website
19 Clinical Ethics in a Digital World Summary and Overview There are no current widely accepted guidelines regarding clinical use of digital technologyTherapists must combine and apply their knowledge of:Digital technology currently available/in useWe will review: Digital terms and digital platforms in useDeveloping guidelines for clinical use of digital technologyWe will review: Clinical uses of these digital platformsExisting principles and accepted guidelinesWe will consider: Ethical issues and concerns that may ariseClinical experienceWe will present: Ideas and facilitate discussion to address ethical issues and concerns
20 Ethics and Cultural Competence in a Digital World Cultural competence refers to an ability to understand, communicate with, and effectively interact with people across cultures.Cultural competence comprises four components: (a) awareness of one's own cultural worldview, (b) attitude towards cultural differences, (c) knowledge of different cultural practices and worldviews, and (d) cross-cultural or multicultural skills.Consider your responses to the Context Questions regarding therapist’s flexibility, ability to adapt, and commitment to cultural diversity.The concepts of “digital natives” and “digital immigrants” provides a helpful cultural context for ethical decision-making in a digital world.
21 Digital NativesGeneration X - Born in the early 1960's through the early 1980's, Gen X encompasses 44 to 50 million Americans. Members of Generation X are largely in their 30’s and 40’s. On the whole, they are more ethnically diverse and better educated than Baby Boomers. The first generation to grow up with computers, technology is woven into their lives. They adapt well to change, are tolerant of alternative lifestyles, and often "work to live rather than live to work". They appreciate fun in the workplace and espouse a work hard/play hard mentality.Generation Y - Born in the early 1980's through early 2000's, Generation Y (or the Millennial Generation or Eco-boomers) encompasses 70 to 80 million Americans, and is often sub-divided by age (adults, teens, tweens). Generation Y grew up with technology and takes it for granted. They are typically tech-savvy and often connected via smart phones, tablets, laptops, and other digital media platforms 24/7. Many in this generation prefer to communicate through social media, , text messaging, and digital media platforms rather than face-to-face contact.Post Gen Y
22 Digital ImmigrantsBaby Boomers - Born during the post WWII baby boom between the years 1943 and the early 1960's, Baby Boomers number around 80 million in the U.S. Baby Boomers are often associated with a rejection or redefinition of traditional values, with a general cynicism and distrust of government. Baby boomers found that their music, most notably rock and roll, was another expression of their generational identity. Baby boomers comprised the first generation to grow up with television, telephones, and portable (transistor) radios, and technologically sophisticated analog (as opposed to digital) devices.Pre-Baby Boomer
23 Terms to Facilitate Cultural Competence What is digital technology?Technology used by devices such as computers, cell phones, TV, etc.Information represented digitally (i.e., using digits) instead of analogically, which allows much higher data volume and accuracy.What is the Internet?A global network of interconnected computer networks.“Net for Beginners”Wikipedia Internet entryWhat is the Web or World Wide Web (www)?A system of interlinked hypertext documents accessed via the Internet. With a web browser, one can view web pages that may contain text, images, videos, and other multimedia, and navigate between them via hyperlinks.Wikipedia World Wide Web entryWhat is a web browser?A software program for retrieving and presenting information resources on the Web.Internet Explorer (default browser with Microsoft Windows OS), Firefox (open source alternative to IE).What is a Search Engine?A program that searches Web documents for specified keywords and returns a list of the documents where the keywords were found.Google, Bing, Yahoo.com, Ask.com, DuckDuckGo, Dogpile
24 Terms to Facilitate Cultural Competence What is social media?A broad term covering diverse types of digital media websites which do not just provide information. A common link between these websites is the ability to interact with the website and interact with other visitors, hence , “social” media.What is a blog?A personal journal posted on the Web for public viewing. Includes text, can include multimedia, and often links to other blogs or websites. May be primarily informational, may involve discussion (at which point it is a social media site) and sometimes called a weblog.What is TeleMentalHealth?The use of digital technology, usually interactive, 2-way audio and video, to provide mental health services between individuals who are not physically located in the same place. In addition to direct mental health care/psychotherapy, may include continuing education and consultation. Sometimes called telehealth, telepsychiatry, telemedicine, telepsychology, or e-healthWhat is texting?Typing and sending a brief, electronic message between two or more cell phones or other digital devices over a network. Sometimes called text messaging.What is ?A method of exchanging text-based messages from an author to one or more recipients via digital devices (e.g., computers or cell phones).
25 Digital Technology Platforms and Issues Relevant to Clinicians Focus on five types of digital technology platformsInternetSocial Media (including blogs)TeleMentalHealthTextingFor each platformPotential usesAdvantages and concerns/disadvantagesPotential therapist-client interactions/relationships and associated clinical and ethical considerations
26 The Internet: Potential Clinical Uses Source of education/informationAdjunct resource for in-person therapyTherapist seeks/discovers client informationClient seeks/discovers therapist informationAlternatives to in-person therapy, e.g., Online-Therapy, FearFighter
27 Therapist Accessing Client Internet Data Digital Immigrants and Natives have typically heard that “nothing on the Internet is private.”Undisclosed or unauthorized Internet searches may not be illegal or violate specific ethical guidelines.However, if therapist assumes the right to seek such information, may violate principles of Autonomy, Justice, Fidelity.May also violate Principles of Beneficence and Non-maleficence if client feels trust has been violated and drops out of treatment, etc.Digital Immigrants may not have concerns about a therapist seeking information about them without explicit consent.However, it is the therapist’s responsibility to understand and uphold ethical practices, not the client’s.
28 Therapist Accessing Client Internet Data Client Privacy Clients have the right to control information sharing with the therapistAwareness of information therapist possesses – Facilitates safe, trusting relationshipTypes of information - Demonstrating perceptions of the relevance of the shared information with presenting problems and treatment goalsAmount of information - Testing the therapist’s ability to receive and process information; monitoring therapist reaction to informationTiming of sharing - Perceived trust of the therapeutic relationship; reflection of client readiness to changeKaslow, F., Patterson, T., & Gottlieb, M. (2011). Ethical dilemmas in psychologists accessing internet data: Is it justified? Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, 42,
29 Therapist Accessing Client Internet Data Informed Consent Obtaining client Informed Consent about therapist practices regarding Internet searches for client information is strongly recommended (Principle of Autonomy).Internet searches without informed consent sometimes appropriate under duty to protect statutes/regulations, client incapacity, etc. (Principles of Non-maleficence and Justice trump Autonomy).With client’s prior informed consent, therapist on more solid ethical ground in either situation.
30 Informed Consent: Reflects Therapist Practice and Perspectives Within sound clinical and ethical boundaries there can be different approaches to a therapist accessing client information:“At times I may Google my clients before the beginning of psychotherapy or during psychotherapy. If you have concerns or questions about this practice, please discuss them with me.”“I neither search for clients on Internet search engines such as Google, nor search my clients' social networking profiles such as Facebook, unless there is an acute crisis which involves safety issues.”“While my present or potential clients might conduct online searches regarding my practice and/or me, I do not search my clients via search engines or social networking sites such as Google, YouTube, or Facebook. If clients ask me to conduct searches or review their websites or profiles, and I assess that it might be helpful, I will consider it.”Zur, O. Digital Ethics 101: To Google or not to Google Our Clients? Retrieved from
31 Therapist Accessing Client Internet Data Intentional vs. Accidental Digital scenario:Therapist inadvertently discovers troubling client behavior on social networking site, blog, sex offender registry, police blotter, etc.Non-digital analog:Therapist sees inebriated client at a public gathering by happenstance; client has claimed abstinenceTherapist reading client’s blog entry during session with client, at client’s request, discovers troubling information about another clientSpouse in couple’s therapy reveals secret about a client without client’s consent
32 Therapist Accessing Client Internet Data Intentional vs. Accidental DiscussionNo inherent ethical issues in these situations. Therapist did not intentionally seek information without client consent. In first digital and non-digital scenarios, no reasonable expectation of privacy (although people often demonstrate poor judgment about this). However, clear clinical issues in these situations that can raise ethical issues. It is essential for therapist to determine how to handle such information consistent with Principles of Beneficence and Fidelity.
33 Client Access to Information About Therapist Therapist Self-Disclosure: Revelation of personal rather than professional informationDeliberate – Information a therapist chooses to shareExample: Verbal disclosure of personal information, nonverbal disclosure ( e.g., displaying personal photos or affective reactions to client information)Self-revealing (therapist information) and self-involving (therapist personal reactions)Designed to enhance effectiveness of treatment, benefit clientUnavoidable – therapist “disclosure that is neither deliberate nor avoidable … [information shared that is] part of everyday life” (p. 23)Example: Gender, age, personal appearance, office location and décor, time offAccidental/Inadvertent – Information therapist inadvertently shares when inadvertently overlooking or ignoring safeguardsExample: Unplanned encounters in a public venue, spontaneous verbal or non-verbal responses to client informationZur, O., Williams, M., Lehavot, K., & Knapp, S. (2009). Psychotherapist self-disclosure and transparency in the internet age. Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, 40,
34 Client Access to Therapist Internet Data Digital Technology: More difficult for therapist to control information sharing (i.e., to deliberately share information):Clients “Google” therapistOnline evaluations and complaints (yelp.com, healthgrades.com, manta.com, complaintsboard.com)Social network (Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn)Licensing Board informationTherapists cannot control all information available about themAccept, manage, embrace, take advantage of the digital technology that makes the information available
35 Client Accessing Therapist Internet Data Curiosity APPROPRIATESimple Internet search (e.g., Google, Bing)Done by most people before going to therapistDue DiligenceMore thorough: Search engines plus social media, licensing boards, ratings sitesNot unusual, healthy, often encouragedIntrusive“Lurking” in professional sites, chatrooms, listserv without therapist knowledgeDeceitfulClient using false identity to interact in social media sites, chatrooms, etc.Illegal and Cyber-stalkingPay to obtain extensive personal information (typically $15 - $60)Type name in search engines and ads often appear on right side of page INAPPROPRIATEZur, O. “Digital Ethics and online boundaries”.
36 Client Accessing Therapist Internet Data: Managing Therapist Internet Disclosures Expect and encourage informed consumers to do “simple” or “more thorough” searchesBe careful about anything you post on websites, social media, blogs, chatrooms, etc. - Remember: everything posted online remains indefinitely and anything posted online is potentially available for anyone to viewSeparate professional and personal information (privacy settings, passwords, etc.)Search yourself regularly using various name combinationsSign up for Google alerts (www.google.com/alerts)Carefully evaluate your response to negative postingsZur, O. “Digital Ethics and online boundaries”.
37 Managing Therapist Internet Disclosures Negative Postings About You Do not panic or react impulsivelyCarefully evaluate your options (some options listed below)Consult with colleagues and/or expertsORM (Online Reputation Management) (e.g.,Ask site to remove the negative posting (some will, some will not)Ask colleagues to write honest positive information on the siteDo not post a rebuttal or criticism (confidentiality, inflammatory)Establish a positive web presence (preponderance of Internet information about you is accurate and deliberate)
38 Description and Examples of Social Media For helpful descriptions of various social media platforms (and the source of the graphic above), see “The Immense Guide to Social Media Sites 2013” :Select slide information obtained fromMacchi, C. R., & Ingram, J. (2011). Ethical issues of therapists’ involvement in social networking. Retrieved from
39 Description of Social Media A broad term covering diverse types of digital media websites which do not just provide information.A common link between these websites is the ability to interact with the website and interact with other visitorsFacilitates connecting and communicating among diverse groups, or individuals with common interests
40 Social Media: Categories NetworkingFacebook: maintain personal connection with friends and familyTwitter: follow relevant people within your area of interest, more relaxed than LinkedInLinkedIn: primary professional network, online CVGoogle+: newest of social networking platforms, tries to combine best of Twitter and FacebookMySpace: Discover, share and connect to music from the world's largest streaming library.
41 Social Media: Categories Support and Health Information SharingUse search engine, type “[problem or disorder] support group online”Depression: About.com – Depression, DepressionTribe.comAnxiety: findthelight.com, PsychCentral – AnxietySexual Abuse: Pandora’s Project, sexual abuse support groupsPTSD: PTSD support groups, National Center for PTSD
42 Social Media: Categories DiscoveryPinterest: online pin board, “pin” visual contentStumbleUpon: go to random website, blog, image or video aligned with your chosen interestsDelicious: catalog and organize online bookmarks/hyperlinks, resources
43 Social Media: Categories ShowcaseYouTube: most popular (4B hits/day) video sharing site, entertainment and education (similar: Vimeo, Metacafe)MySpace: entertainers and fans, especially music, connect and showcase (similar: Soundcloud, Mixcloud)Pinterest: exhibit work/products visually (similar: Piccsy)Blogs: Tumblr, WordPressWebinars
44 Social Media: Categories Q & A SitesQuora: contribute answers/questions, can establish expertise, “best” answers, not all answersStackExchange: network of specialist Q&A sites, profile page allows posting your Q’s and A’sYahoo! Answers: widespread use, lacks social dimensions/community controlsWebinars
45 Social Media: Categories Social NewsDigg: keep abreast of breaking news across the internet, submit interesting contentReddit: news submitted and recommended by users, can start topic with a questionTechnorati: a leading search engine for blogsBuzzfeed, Alltop, Fark
46 Clients’ Use of Social Media Clients are increasingly using social media to access health-related resources and become better-informed consumersTypes of social media most often used involve support groups:BlogsChat roomsMessage boardsOnline communitiesPatient testimonials“New technology is empowering patients and enabling them to be much more assertive and health-care professionals have to spend more time helping them to sift through what might or might not be helpful online.” (Neil Coulson, a chartered psychologist at the University of Nottingham, UK, p. 1142)Devi, S. (2011). Facebook friend request from a patient? Lancet Medical Journal, 33, Retrieved from
47 General Ethical Issues Associated with Social Media Client confidentiality – privacy of informationclient controls the timing, types, amounts, and ways personal information is shared with the therapistclinicians use reasonable safeguards to protect PHI from unintended or unauthorized disclosures or uses (HIPAA Privacy Rule)Client confidentiality – security of informationClinicians prevent unintended or malicious disclosure, alteration, or loss of PHITherapist self-disclosure and transparencyTherapist manages personal information shared or available to clientDual relationshipsTherapist enters into relationship with client outside of therapy relationshipTaylor, L., McMinn, M., Bufford, R., & Chang, K. (2010). Psychologists attitudes and ethical concerns regarding the use of social networking web sites. Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, 41,Zur, O., Williams, M., Lehavot, K., & Knapp, S. (2009). Psychotherapist self-disclosure and transparency in the internet age. Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, 40,
48 Specific Issues: Ethical Principles - Therapist Accessing Client Information Via Social Networking SitesAutonomy, Fidelity: Disrupts the client’s control of personal information and the pacing of treatmentTherapist views information on FB page that appears to be relevant to the therapeutic work that the client has not yet revealedAutonomy, Fidelity, Justice: Therapist becomes a “secret-holder”Client working on extra-marital affair is pictured with the paramour on his FB page while his partner remains unawareAutonomy, Fidelity: Therapist becomes an investigator verifying client informationClient reports about having written books and attending certain schools while the internet reveals no informationAutonomy, Fidelity: Therapist must manage conflicting or contradictory informationClient describes she has been sober for three months. A picture on FB shows her holding a drink at a recent partyKaslow, F., Patterson, T., & Gottlieb, M. (2011). Ethical dilemmas in psychologists accessing internet data: Is it justified? Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, 42,
49 Specific Issues: Ethical Problems - Facebook “Friend” Request from a Client Dual Relationship: Altering client’s perception of the therapeutic relationshipClient learns about therapist’s political and social views/activities, family and friends, listed on profileClient interacts with therapist like other Facebook “friendsBlurred Boundaries: Client develops an expectation that contacting the therapist outside of therapy is acceptable and even invitedClient is “invited” into clinician's personal lifeClient posts questions that should be addressed in therapy on the therapist’s wallConfidentiality: Client sees list of therapist’s “friends”, wonders which others may be clientsKaslow, F., Patterson, T., & Gottlieb, M. (2011). Ethical dilemmas in psychologists accessing internet data: Is it justified? Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, 42,Devi, S. (2011). Facebook friend request from a patient? Lancet Medical Journal, 33, Retrieved fromTherapist’s approach to “friend” requests should be explicitly covered in Informed Consent
50 Specific Issues: Potential Problems Related to Subtleties of Digital Technology If account used to create Twitter account is used to a client (e.g., to change an appointment time), when client looks for "friends" on the Twitter site you are likely to be on the list and vice versa.; however, therapists should be mindful of unavoidable and accidental forms of self-disclosure that may affect others’ perceptions and the therapy processRelatives or friends of clients may follow our professional social media postings and express strong reactions to client. Client may feel protective, defensive, or uncomfortableIf clients become “Fans” or “like” clinician's professional Facebook page, this may raise confidentiality concerns, e.g., which other Fans may also be clientsIf clients become “Fans” or “like” clinician's professional Facebook page, this may be considered a passive request for a client testimonial, which is forbidden in ethics codesIf family members and friends become “Fans” or “like” the page, clients will have access to this informationIf clinician posts at 2:00 AM, is this indirectly revealing information about clinician’s personal schedule and habits and how might it affect clients who notice?Friends or colleagues may post well-meaning comments on clinician's Facebook wall which might be too personal for clinician's comfortYou are meeting with a client addressing a certain issue. Later that day, the client views your Facebook page where you have provided a link to information related to their issue; client believes the post is about him/her
51 Initial Considerations of Using Social Networking Determine if social networking is right for your personal use, for your practice, or bothDecide if your professional involvement in social networking is an added benefit to your therapeutic workConsider the potential risks and challenges that your involvement in social networking may present to your therapeutic relationships and workInformed Consent is necessary to provide guidelines for the therapeutic relationship and to make your policy of social networking explicitZur, O., Williams, M., Lehavot, K., & Knapp, S. (2009). Psychotherapist self-disclosure and transparency in the internet age. Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, 40,
52 Practical Guidelines for Social Networking Maintain separate accounts for professional and personal involvement in social networkingA professional account can be established to promote practice and disseminate therapeutic resourcesA professional social media presence becomes part of a clinician's professional space, with associated legal and ethical responsibilitiesCarefully consider site affiliations and access to affiliated professions – “identity by association”Provide clear guidelines for participant postingsAll clinical activities, including social media presence, should consider potential effects on clients: Beneficence, Non-maleficence, FidelitySet personal accounts to the highest privacy setting in order to control the amount and types of information that are available to the general public, and thus to your clients
53 TeleMentalHealth Our Focus Sometimes called telehealth, telemedicine, telepsychology, telepsychiatry, e-healthLimited consistency in defining what it is, how it should be conducted, when, where, and with whom it is appropriate, who can provide it, types of technology involvedHowever, addressed more completely than clinical use of most other digital mediaSpecific service directed toward specific individual (as opposed to broad audience of Internet and Social Media)Ethical issues similar to in-personOur FocusDirect counseling/psychotherapy via real-time, audio/visual teleconferencing between therapist and client
54 TeleMentalHealth: Issues to Consider Who why, what, and whereInformed ConsentConfidentialityPrivacySecurityEffectivenessReimbursementTherapist technological competence
55 TeleMentalHealth : Issues to Consider Who and whyIndividuals who have trouble attending in-personPhysical disability, geography, transportation, psychological disability, costWhatPrimary mode of treatmentAdjunct or intermittent treatment along with in-personWhereJurisdiction of therapist’s licenseAppropriate, secure, private site (not home)
56 TeleMentalHealth: Informed Consent Verbal and in writing, signed copy in client record(recommend arrangement with site)Unique TeleMentalHealth Factors in addition to usualInformed ConsentPossibility of technology failure and contingency plansProcedure for contacting clinician when offlineUse of encryption methods to ensure securityPotential risks to confidentiality when communication unsecuredWhat info. included in record, how stored and accessedOutline emergency procedures, safety protocols, local professionalClinician response to routine communications, including timeFees and reimbursement/billing proceduresWhere and how to make complaintsSample Social Media Policy available for download and use:K. Kolmes - Social Media Policy:
57 TeleMentalHealth: Advantages Client satisfaction comparable to in-personOutcomes comparable to in-personAccessible, not limited by proximityImproved client choice for best treatmentLess costly
58 TeleMentalHealth: Concerns Inconsistencies in definitions, regulationsClients for whom it is contraindicatedClient and therapist acceptance (better than anticipated)Less environmental control (addressed through planning/coordination with site)Clinician competence req. by Ethics Codes (education, consultation, supervision)Acceptable technologies (HIPAA compliant)EncryptedSecureTransmission qualityProvide audit trail, breach notification, Business Associate AgreementInconsistencies re. reimbursementMedicare – Federal rate comparable to in-person, conditions include HPSA and MSA, at approved sites, live A/V communication (not phone or )Medicaid – Varies by state, reimbursed in Virginia, verify specific conditionsPrivate Payers – Vary by payer, typically follow BC/BS reimbursement for TeleMentalHealth, rates vary by payer and state, verify with payer.
59 TeleMentalHealth: HIPAA Regulations Several alternatives to Skype which are/may be HIPAA compliant:Secure TelehealthVIA3TelemedicineIMVseeeTherapi
60 TeleMentalHealth: HIPAA Regulations Confidentiality involves:HIPAA Privacy Rule:Focus on rules governing intentional disclosures of PHIRequires clinicians to use reasonable safeguards to protect PHI from unintended or unauthorized disclosures or usesHIPAA Security Rule:Focus on preventing unintended or malicious disclosure, alteration, or loss of PHI
61 Text and E-mail Communication - Considerations Absence of face to face cuesSynchronous vs. asynchronous interactionDisinhibitionRecordableTechnology problems/disruptionsReduced environmental controlConfidentialityWhere and how documented
62 Guidelines for use of Texting and Email If you discuss clinical issues with clients/potential clients via text or , this can be considered a clinical service and clinical relationshipSuch communication should be documented as part of the clinical recordSuch interactions should comply with all legal and clinical requirements/guidelines, including HIPAA, state laws, etc., including confidentiality, privacy, security, boundaries.Informed Consent should be reviewed as soon as reasonably possible
63 Guidelines for use of Texting and Email Clarify to yourself your thoughts and feelings regarding text and communication with clients. What are your preferences for appropriate use, your limits, etc.?Discuss the issue of text and communications with clients, when relevant, in the first session or first contact (brief verbal description of Informed Consent). Learn from them about their expectations and clarify your expectations and boundaries, potential limitations of confidentiality. Continue the dialogue as clinically and ethically necessary throughout the course of therapy.Make sure that your office policies include a section on the use of text and ( along with use/not use of Internet, Social Media, etc.)For text and (or other digital communication) make sure your computer, cell phone or other digital device has a password, virus protection, firewall, and back up system (see HIPAA Privacy and Security Rules). Encryption is recommended. Consider secure, encrypted, user verified services such as HushmailMake sure that each includes an electronic signature that covers issues such as confidentiality and security.Zur, O. (2011). I Love These s, or Do I? The Use of s in Psychotherapy and Counseling. Retrieved from
66 Principle-based Ethics Principle-Based Ethics is based on a commitment to five overarching, common, basic prima facie moral principles:BeneficenceNonmaleficenceAutonomyJusticeFidelity
67 Principle-based Ethics: Beneficence Benefit others, promote others’ welfareAccept responsibility to do goodBeneficence is one of the primary reasons for existence of helping professionsOthers seek services with expectation that they will profit/benefit from out services
68 Principle-based Ethics: Nonmaleficence Do no harm, physical or psychologicalDo not engage in activities that have high risk of harming othersNonmaleficence is fundamental to any helping profession dedicated to promoting others’ welfareEngaging in harmful activities contradicts core concept of profession
69 Principle-based Ethics: Autonomy Informed, non-coerced freedom of thoughtInformed, non-coerced freedom of action (as long as it does not interfere with others’ freedom of action)Moral independenceClinician does not have the right to interfere in others’ lives just because their decisions seem wrong, except in very circumscribed conditionsAssumes individual has:Ability to think and act rationallyAbility to act with understanding of the consequences of the actionImplies reciprocal relationship with othersEach respecting the other’s choices, even if not in agreement
70 Principle-based Ethics: Justice Act fairly or justlyConcern for the equality and rights of allFair treatment of an individual when his/her interests must be balanced against the rights and interests of others.Justice is fundamental for clinicians because of professions’ concern for welfare of othersFairness is necessary for trust that clinician will act in client’s best interest
71 Principle-Based Ethics: Fidelity Being faithful to commitments and promisesDo not deceive or exploitFidelity is at the core of relationships between helping professionals and clientsPromise-keepingTrustworthinessLoyalty