Why is a Social Media Policy Necessary?
This social media policy has been written to ensure all those served by Pathways Counseling Services (a service and ministry of Emmaus Free Church) have their confidentiality protected and a professional relationship with boundaries is established and maintained amongst patients and counselors.
Counselor Use of Social Media
Currently, Pathways Counseling Services does not use any social media accounts (consistently). However, there is a blog available for clients on the website which does not require you to provide any personal information to view. Licensed Counselors and Master Student Intern Counselors may have personal social media accounts such as Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn, but will never use these sites to directly or indirectly interact with you. All of our counselors are strictly prohibited from writing, posting, or discussing any client information on any social media site or blog even if the name is eliminated due to the nature of its accessibility.
All friend requests in any form by current or former clients on all social media accounts owned by our counselors will be denied in order to protect your confidentiality. An approved friend request is not only seen by the public, but it also distorts the professional relationship and boundaries established through therapy. It is recommended to bring up any questions regarding this relational boundary directly with your counselor.
Although you are able to like, follow, or comment on any public content made available by counselors on social media sites, it is advised that you do not due to the accessibility of this information. Please be advised the majority of activity on social media sites both on the counselors’ accounts and your own are tracked and available to the public.
Interacting / Contacting
Pathways Counseling Services will never contact you through social media. All contacting will primarily be through emails or phone calls. Further, for clients, appointment reminder platforms confirmed with counselors’ clients and/or use of text messages through pMD. pMD are used by our counselors that offer a HIPAA-compliant messaging platform to ensure client data is protected. Any contact to Pathways Counseling Services by you should be made using the options available on our website and never through social media.
Our counselors will not use search engines such as Google, social media sites, or other Internet alternatives to lookup client information before or during treatment. The only exception to this policy is if a counselor has reason to suspect you as a client are in imminent danger to yourself or others. This can be due to something said or written by you during acceptable and usual means of communication such as an appointment, a phone or email message, or an unusual lack of communication or attendance of appointments without knowledge of termination (ending) of therapy. The counselors may then access local mobile crisis response network/s (behavioral health and/or law enforcement) to attempt to find and contact you or may contact your emergency contact person/s to ensure your well-being. If this exception is deemed necessary and used, it will be formally documented and discussed with you at your next session.
Business Review Sites and Testimonials
Pathways Counseling Services may be available on business review sites such as Yelp, Google, or Bing. Note that many of these sites search for businesses and can add them with or without the consent of the business. Pathways Counseling Services and its counselors will never solicit testimonials or reviews for marketing reasons from past or current clients even if one can be made using a moniker such as a username as this is prohibited by the American Counseling Association’s Ethics Code. If you make the choice to post a review on your own accord, our counselors are unable to respond to your review regardless if a counselor is mentioned by name or if the content is positive or negative. Please be advised that any review made on these sites is made public and can risk your confidentiality. In order to receive a response regarding feelings or comments about therapy, clients should contact their counselor or Director directly even if the desire is to change services. If you are not comfortable contacting us directly, you have the right to change your mind, refuse to contact us, discontinue services, and/or locate another counseling provider.
Some applications on your devices such as a phone, tablet, or computer may use location-based services. This is software that can track your geographical location either per use or passively. If you elect to use these services, it could potentially risk your confidentially by tracking visits to our physical locations.
Thank you for reading and reviewing our Social Media Policy. If you have any questions regarding its contents, please contact our office or one of our counselors. This contact information can be found on our website. Any updates or changes to this policy will be made available immediately.