HIPAA, Social Media, and Technology
A Guide for Mental Health Professionals

Chapter 3: An Introduction to Social Media Standards for Mental Health Professionals
Part 1: Social Media Risks for Social Workers
On Matters of Informed Consent

According to the NASW New browser window icon., psychotherapy notes have their own privacy protections under HIPAA regulations. According to privacy rules, your must obtain written client consent before you can disclose psychotherapy notes to another party. That means any notes you take during your client's session that document or analyze the conversation are strictly off-limits for sharing unless you have consent.

The exception to this rule is when the HHS or the law requires the disclosure or when disclosing the information is necessary to avert a serious and imminent threat to health or safety.

That's all a given, right? You've been around this block before. But here's where questions might creep in: what if you want to write a case study about a particular client and post it on your blog?

Social workers who blog about a client's case without consent and without redacting all identifying information could get in trouble with the NASW and HIPAA regulators.

It's a fine line you're treading, but be sure to…

  • Explain the client's privacy rights under HIPAA and what information you plan to publish.
  • Get consent from the client before blogging about their case.
  • Redact all identifying information that could ostensibly be linked back to the client.

Read more about the NASW's ethical standards on informed consent here New browser window icon..

Next: On Soliciting Clients

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