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Careless Use of Facebook Can Jeopardize Your Career

By Frances Patterson, PhD, MAC

Careless Use of Facebook Can Jeopardize Your CareerI often am asked questions regarding the ethical issues for counselors regarding social networking, specifically Facebook. At that point I usually hear about a situation that has caused professional and personal problems for an addictions professional. In each scenario that follows names have been changed and situations modified to protect the identity of those involved.

Situation 1 – Using Social Media to Monitor Clients

Danny is a substance abuse counselor who decided to join Facebook for a specific reason: he wanted to look up clients to see if they were posting information on Facebook that would indicate they were using.

What are the Ethical Concerns?

Client autonomy: Clients in treatment have a right to choose whether to use alcohol or other drugs. As a counselor would you drive by a client’s house to see if that client is sitting on the front porch smoking a joint? Clients have a right to their personal lives outside of treatment, whether or not it is what we would choose for them.

Counseling relationship: Trust is a major component of the counseling relationship. A client could consider it a violation of that trust to “spy” on him on Facebook. Before the advent of Facebook, a counselor asked clients if they were using and conducted drug screens. Should our methods be any different today?

Do no harm: Is there the possibility that such actions could harm a client? We must always consider the possible outcomes of our actions when it involves client care. A client could possibly feel betrayed by her counselor if such “investigation” is pursued by the counselor.

Professional boundaries: One of our responsibilities as counselors is to have healthy professional boundaries. These boundaries can easily become blurred if or when we begin to intrude on the personal lives of clients outside the professional relationship. Just as we need to set appropriate boundaries with clients regarding our personal Facebook pages, we too should respect their boundaries.

Situation 2 – The Personal/Private Divide

Mary Beth was a counselor at a large addictions treatment facility. She is not in recovery from drug or alcohol addiction. She had recently returned from a vacation at the beach. A client of one of Mary Beth’s colleagues at the same facility mentioned during an individual session that he had been searching people on Facebook and found Mary Beth’s page. He stated, “I really liked those pictures of her vacation.” After the client left, his counselor looked up Mary Beth on Facebook to see what the client was referring to. To her dismay she found that Mary Beth had no security on her page and all of her information was open to anyone who came across it. Additionally, she had posted pictures of herself in a bikini, holding a beer in her hand, with a male companion who appeared to be fondling her. Mary Beth was fired from her job. The agency maintained that she was not projecting a professional image and was negatively affecting the reputation of the agency.

What are the Ethical Concerns?

Counseling relationship: What did the pictures portray to clients and colleagues who saw them on her Facebook page? We have a responsibility to safeguard the integrity of our relationship with clients. (NAADAC Code of Ethics, Principle I) Part of this safeguard is to always being aware of perceptions and how those perceptions may change the professional relationship with a client.

Professional responsibility: If Mary Beth had put the security blocks on her page which would allow only invited friends to see her page, she would have been acting more responsibly. The addiction professional recognizes that those who assume the role of assisting others to live a more responsible life take on the ethical accountability of living responsibly. The addiction professional recognizes that even in a life well-lived, harm might be done to others by works and actions. (NAADAC Code of Ethics, Principle IV)

Discretion: Mary Beth’s actions in regards to Facebook appear to be poor professional judgment. She certainly has a right to her personal life and to enjoy herself. On the other hand, professional judgment includes how we conduct ourselves in public, even in our leisure time which includes what we post on a Facebook page for all to view.

Do no harm: Although Mary Beth is not in recovery herself, the posting of the picture of her drinking may cause undue influence on clients to assume that if it is OK for a counselor to participate in these activities that it must be acceptable for them also. Or clients may believe that Mary Beth is not “practicing what she preaches”. Again, often we are talking about perceptions which may not always be reality.

Situation 3 – Information Sharing

Carla is in private practice working as a substance abuse professional. She recently joined Facebook and being a very social person, enjoys the interactions each evening with her Facebook friends. One of those friends is a counselor at a local substance abuse in-patient facility. For the past few evenings Carla has noticed that her friend has begun to post information about clients she has seen that day, funny things they have done or unusual crises they have experienced. Although her friend is not stating client names she has told others where she works.

What are the Ethical Concerns?

Confidentiality: We are to make every effort to protect the confidentiality of client information. (NAADAC Code of Ethics, Principle III) Carla’s friend has stated where she works and now she is talking about clients of that facility. She is not honoring confidentiality, even though she is not stating client identifying information. She may inadvertently be giving enough information that someone could deduce to whom she is referring. This is also a violation of client rights and their expectation that their information will be protected.

Due diligence: We are to be conscientious and careful in all of our actions when it concerns clients and our professional life. We, as professional counselors, should make every effort to avoid “gossiping” about clients. It is possible that, unbeknownst to this counselor, a client may be a “friend of a friend” on Facebook and actually can see what this counselor is posting and recognizes that the counselor is telling her story.

Legal concern: Carla is bound under 42 CFR Part 2 and HIPAA to make every reasonable effort to protect client information. This type of behavior could result in litigation.

Resolving Ethical Issues: Carla has a responsibility to go to her friend and discuss the ethical and legal concerns she has regarding her friend’s behavior. If her friend is unwilling to change that behavior, Carla next needs to seek supervision and consider her licensure reporting responsibility. (NAADAC Code of Ethics, principle VIII)

Situation 4 – Venting Frustrations

Martin has been having a difficult time at work lately. It is increasingly more stressful with an increased number of clients who are exhibiting more severe symptoms, fewer staff and fewer resources. He has recently been having disagreements with his supervisor. He has also begun to post his “venting” on his Facebook page.

What are the Ethical Concerns?

Discretion: As professionals we have an obligation to use utmost discretion in all of our professional life. Ethically, Martin would be well served to seek other supervision or peer support in his stressful situation rather than venting on his Facebook page.

Professional relationships: Martin is not building, supporting or treating his professional relationships respectfully. As professionals we are to respect other professionals by going to them when we have problems that are affecting us. I have heard many accounts of people losing their jobs as a result of airing their complaints about their jobs and employers on Facebook.

Situation 5 – Compromised Testimonials?

A 12 step focused residential treatment facility developed a Facebook page as a means of advertising. It is also a means for keeping a connection with former clients. These former clients may also write comments on their experience with the treatment program. Recently the administrator contacted former clients requesting that they post testimonials on Facebook. A counselor conducting patient aftercare was made aware of the request and was concerned about confidentiality.

What are the Ethical Concerns?

Informed consent and Confidentiality: In this situation clients need to be fully informed about the risks of posting testimonials on Facebook. If they do post voluntarily, they should be informed of the risk of confidentiality being compromised.

Due Diligence: This treatment facility, as well as the counselor who was made aware of the request, have an obligation to be diligent in the care of clients and sensitive client information.

Exploitation: Is the facility using client testimonials to help others who are suffering with addictions or are they using this to further their business and bring in revenue? The concern here is whether or not it is exploiting clients to ask them to help in marketing a program by posting personal testimonials about their treatment experience. Clients may not understand the far-reaching outcomes of this course of action. Treatment programs need to consider all aspects of their decisions to use media such as Facebook to market their programs.

Reporting

Often I hear professionals say that they hesitate to report unethical behavioral because they are friends with the person or they don’t want to hurt the other person’s career. As licensed or certified professionals, we have an ethical and legal obligation to report unethical behavior that cannot be resolved or that is such an egregious violation that it is beyond being resolved.

As technology grows and becomes more and more available, we as professionals must always consider the ramifications of our actions when using any technology, including social network sites such as Facebook. When ethics are violated, we have an obligation to address the issue and report to licensure boards when necessary.

Be true to yourself, your profession and your colleagues.

Source: http://www.naadac.org/component/content/article/48-publications/643-careless-use-of-facebook-can-jeopardize-your-career

Related Online Continuing Education (CE/CEU) Course:

Ethics and Social Media

2-Hour Online CEU Course

Ethics and Social Media is a 2-hour online CEU course for psychologists, counselors, social workers and MFTs. Is it useful or appropriate (or ethical or therapeutic) for a therapist and a client to share the kinds of information that are routinely posted on Social Networking Services (SNS) like Facebook, Twitter, and others? How are psychotherapists to handle “Friending” requests from clients? What are the threats to confidentiality and therapeutic boundaries that are posed by the use of social media sites, texts, or tweets in therapist-client communication? The purpose of this course is to offer psychotherapists the opportunity to examine their practices in regard to the use of social networking services in their professional relationships and communications. Included are ethics topics such as privacy and confidentiality, boundaries and multiple relationships, competence, the phenomenon of friending, informed consent, and record keeping. A final section offers recommendations and resources for the ethical use of social networking and the development of a practice social media policy. Course #20-75 | 2013 | 28 pages | 14 posttest questions

Professional Development Resources is approved by the American Psychological Association (APA) to sponsor continuing education for psychologists; by the National Board of Certified Counselors (NBCC) to offer home study continuing education for NCCs (#5590); the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB #1046, ACE Program); the California Board of Behavioral Sciences (#PCE1625); the Florida Boards of Clinical Social Work, Marriage & Family Therapy, and Mental Health Counseling (#BAP346) and Psychology & School Psychology (#50-1635); the Ohio Counselor, Social Worker & MFT Board (#RCST100501); the South Carolina Board of Professional Counselors & MFTs (#193); and the TexasBoard of Examiners of Marriage & Family Therapists (#114) and State Board of Social Worker Examiners (#5678).

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Virginia Psychologists Continuing Education Requirements

Online CEUs for Virginia Psychologists

Online CEUs for Virginia Psychologists

Virginia-licensed psychologists have an upcoming license renewal deadline of June 30, 2015 (due annually).

The Virginia Board of Psychology requires that all licensed psychologists complete a minimum of 14 hours of board-approved continuing education courses each year for annual licensure renewal. A minimum of 1.5 of these hours shall be in courses that emphasize the ethics, standards of practice or laws governing the profession of psychology.

“Course” means an organized program of study, classroom experience or similar educational experience that is directly related to the practice of psychology and is provided by a board-approved provider.

At least six of the required hours shall be earned in face-to-face or real-time interactive educational experiences. Real-time interactive shall include a course in which the learner has the opportunity to interact with the presenter and participants during the time of the presentation.

Professional Development Resources is approved by the American Psychological Association (APA) to sponsor online continuing education courses for Virginia psychologists. Virginia-licensed psychologists may earn up to 8 hours per renewal cycle through online CE courses available at www.pdresources.org.

Professional Development Resources allows you the flexibility to earn CEU credits at your own pace and according to your own schedule, wherever you are. You can explore courses, register, study, take exams and earn your accredited continuing education units all online. Read what our customers are saying.

 
 

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Continuing Education and License Renewals for South Dakota Marriage and Family Therapists

http://www.pdresources.org/blog_data/south-dakota-marriage-and-family-therapists-continuing-education-and-license-renewals/Marriage and family therapists licensed in the state of South Dakota have an annual license renewal with a December 31st deadline.

Continuing education is due every two years, odd years. Forty (40) continuing education hours are required for licensing. There is no limit on home study if NBCC and APA approved. Four (4) hours of ethics are required at each renewal.

Professional Development Resources is approved as a provider of continuing education by the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB Provider #1046, ACE Program); by the National Board of Certified Counselors (NBCC Provider #5590); and by the American Psychological Association (APA).

Continuing Education Requirements

Marriage and family therapists in South Dakota have an annual license renewal with a deadline of December 31st. Continuing education is due every two years, odd years.

Forty (40) continuing education hours are required for licensing. There is no limit on home study if NBCC and APA approved. Four (4) hours of ethics are required at each renewal.

 

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Oklahoma Social Workers License Renewals and Continuing Education Information

http://www.pdresources.org/blog_data/oklahoma-social-workers-continuing-education-and-license-renewals/Social workers licensed in the state of Oklahoma have an annual license renewal with a deadline of December 31st.

Sixteen (16) hours of continuing education are required for license renewal. Out of the sixteen hours, eight hours must be Category 3, and the other eight hours must be live.

National accreditation accepted is ASWB, and three (3) hours of ethics are required at each renewal.

Continuing education assures the best possible standards for the social work profession. All licensees to participate in continuing education as a licensing condition.

This organization (Professional Development Resources, Inc. ACE Approval Number 1046) is approved as a provider for social work continuing education by the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWBwww.aswb.org through the Approved Continuing Education (ACE) Program.

Professional Development Resources maintains responsibility for all programs. ASWB Approval Period: 6/12/2000 – 6/12/2016. Social workers should contact their regulatory board to determine course approval for continuing education credits.

Continuing Education Requirements

Social workers licensed in Oklahoma have a yearly license renewal with a December 31st deadline. Sixteen continuing education hours are required to renew a license.

Of the sixteen hours, eight hours must be Category 3, and the other eight hours must be live. National accreditation accepted is ASWB, and three hours of ethics are required at each renewal.

 

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License Renewal & Continuing Education Information for Louisiana Psychologists

Louisiana psychologist licenses expire annually on July 31st.

Louisiana psychologists can earn all 30 hours for renewal online!Each psychologist is required to complete 30 hours of credit of continuing education within the biennial reporting period, with 2 of the 30 in ethics or forensics. [Odd licensees report on odd years, even licensees report in even years (i.e., License #3120 reports in 2012)].

The biennial reporting period is July 1st through June 30th (i.e., July 1, 2011 through June 30, 2013).

Professional Development Resources is approved by the American Psychological Association (APA) to sponsor continuing education for psychologists. Louisiana psychologists can earn all 30 hours for renewal through online (home study) coursework offered @ http://www.pdresources.org/Courses/Psychology/Online/CourseID/1/.

Licensees can accumulate continuing education hours of credit in six primary ways:

  • completion for credit of a graduate level course, sponsored by an acceptable institution of higher education
  • documentation, by the instructor, of the completion of at least 75 percent of any audited graduate level course which is sponsored by an acceptable institution of higher education
  • preparation and teaching of a graduate level psychology course in an accredited institution of higher education;
  • completion of continuing education activities conducted or approved by an acceptable institution or organization
  • preparation and teaching of a seminar or workshop conducted under the sponsorship of an acceptable institution or organization
  • registered attendance at a professional meeting, conference, or convention which lasts one full day or longer

Acceptable continuing education activities are defined as:

  • formally organized and planned instructional experiences
  • programs which have objectives compatible with the post-doctoral educational needs of the licensed psychologist
  • professional meetings, conferences, or conventions lasting one full day or longer which are designed to promote professional development

The board will recognize the following as acceptable sponsors of the continuing education requirements:

  • accredited institutions of higher education
  • hospitals which have approved Regional Medical Continuing Education Centers
  • hospitals which have APA approved doctoral internship training programs
  • national, regional, or state professional associations, or divisions of such associations, which specifically offer or approve graduate or post-doctoral continuing education training
  • American Psychological Association (APA) approved sponsors and activities offered by APA (including home study courses)
  • activities sponsored by the Board of Examiners of Psychologists
  • activities sponsored by the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals or its subordinate units and approved by the chief psychologist of the sponsoring state office

Louisiana State Board of Examiners of Psychologists: http://www.lsbep.org/

 
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Posted by on February 21, 2012 in General

 

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Florida Psychology License Renewal & Continuing Education

Florida psychologists have an upcoming license renewal deadline of May 31, 2012.

Every licensee must complete 40 hours of approved continuing psychological education (CE) within the two year licensure period (biennium) including 2 hours on the prevention of medical errors, 3 hours on ethics and Florida laws, and 2 hours on domestic violence (every third renewal).

Professional Development Resources is approved by the American Psychological Association (APA) to sponsor continuing education for psychologists. Professional Development Resources maintains responsibility for all programs and content. Professional Development Resources is also approved by the Florida Board of Psychology and Office of School Psychology (CE Broker Provider #50-1635 – courses are automatically reported to CE Broker). Florida psychologists may earn all 40 required hours @ pdresources.org.

Questions about CE Broker? Click here for answers to FAQs.

Preventing Medical ErrorsPreventing Medical Errors in Behavioral Health is intended to increase clinicians’ awareness of the types of errors that can occur within mental health practice, how such errors damage clients, and numerous ways they can be prevented. Its emphasis is on areas within mental health practice that carry the potential for “medical” errors. Examples include improper diagnosis, breach of confidentiality, failure to maintain accurate clinical records, failure to comply with mandatory abuse reporting laws, inadequate assessment of potential for violence, and the failure to detect medical conditions presenting as psychiatric disorders (or vice-versa). It includes detailed plans for error reduction and prevention like root cause analysis, habitual attention to patient safety, and ethical and legal guidelines. The course includes numerous cases illustrations to help demonstrate common and not-so-common behavioral health errors and specific practices that can help clinicians become proactive in preventing them. Course #20-10B | 2010 | 31 pages | 15 posttest questions
Ethics and Law in Florida PsychologyEthics & Law in Florida Psychology ensures that Florida-licensed psychologists are fully aware of the ethical and legal privileges and constraints under which they are licensed to practice in the State of Florida. It provides the opportunity for a comprehensive reading of the APA Code of Ethics and the three sets of statutes and rules governing the practice of psychology in Florida. Completing this course will fulfill the requirement that licensed psychologists in Florida complete each biennial renewal period three hours of continuing education on professional ethics and Florida Statutes and rules affecting the practice of psychology. Course #30-06 | 2012 | 40 pages | 21 posttest questions
domestic violenceDomestic Violence: Child Abuse and Intimate Partner Violence is intended to help health professionals maintain a high state of vigilance and to be well prepared with immediate and appropriate responses when abuse is disclosed. There is a special section on the complexity of an abuse victim’s decision about if and when to leave an abuser. This course will teach clinicians to detect abuse when they see it, screen for the particulars, and respond with definitive assistance in safety planning, community referrals, and individualized treatment plans. Course #20-61 | 2012 | 31 pages | 18 posttest questions
 
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Posted by on February 21, 2012 in General

 

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Renewal Information for Iowa Psychologists

Iowa psychologists can earn all 40 hours of continuing education through online courses @ www.pdresources.org

Click to view approved online courses

Psychologists in Iowa must renew their licenses every 2 years, on June 30th of even-numbered years. The current renewal deadline is June 30, 2012. 40 hours of continuing education are required to renew, including 6 hours in ethics, laws/regulations or risk management.

Licensees may earn all 40 hours through online courses offered by APA-approved providers.

Professional Development Resources is approved by the American Psychological Association (APA) to sponsor continuing education for psychologists. Over 100 online courses are available at: http://www.pdresources.org/Index.aspx

Continuing Education Requirements:

The biennial continuing education compliance period shall extend for a two-year period beginning on July 1 of even-numbered years and ending on June 30 of even-numbered years. Each biennium, each person who is licensed to practice as a Psychologist in Iowa shall be required to complete a minimum of 40 hours of continuing education approved by the board.

A continuing education activity which meets all of the following criteria is appropriate for continuing education credit if the continuing education activity:

  • Constitutes an organized program of learning which contributes directly to the professional competency of the licensee
  • Pertains to subject matters which integrally relate to the practice of the profession
  • Is conducted by individuals who have specialized education, training and experience by reason of which said individuals should be considered qualified concerning the subject matter of the program. At the time of audit, the board may request the qualifications of presenters
  • Fulfills stated program goals, objectives, or both
  • Provides proof of completion or attendance

Licensees shall obtain 6 hours of continuing education pertaining to the practice of psychology in any of the following areas: ethical issues, federal mental health laws and regulations, Iowa mental health laws and regulations, or risk management.

A licensee may obtain the remainder of continuing education hours of credit by:

  • Completing training to comply with mandatory reporter training requirements. Hours reported for credit shall not exceed the hours required to maintain compliance with required training.
  • Attending programs/activities that are sponsored by the American Psychological Association or the Iowa Psychological Association.
  • Completing academic coursework that meets the criteria set forth in these rules.
  • Conducting scholarly research or other activities that integrally relate to the practice of psychology, the results of which are published in a recognized professional publication.
  • Preparing new courses that have received approval from the board.
  • Completing home study courses for which a certificate of completion is issued.
  • Completing electronically transmitted courses for which a certificate of completion is issued.
  • Attending workshops, conferences, or symposiums.

Iowa Board of Psychology: http://www.idph.state.ia.us/licensure/board_home.asp?board=psy

 
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Posted by on February 14, 2012 in General

 

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