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
Tips for Using Social Media in Social Work

To avoid losing your social worker license and facing malpractice lawsuits, be sure to follow these tips for using social media:

  • Assume that all your social media activity is public. Even if you delete a post or tweet, it only takes one screenshot to ensure it lives on forever in Google's endless memory.
  • Don't post about your clients. This is especially true if you're tempted to write something negative about them or about their specific case. Confidentiality is one of the pillars of social work, and you can harm your clients' trust in your practice over a perceived breach.
  • Be professional. Posting inflammatory comments and suggestive photographs online may harm your credibility in the field.
  • Keep your professional and personal social media accounts separate. You might even use a pseudonym for your personal account so you can post with more anonymity.
  • Don't add clients to your social media networks. It opens the doors for a personal relationship, which is a conflict of interest.
  • Don't use location check-ins when you're in the field. It may inadvertently jeopardize your client's privacy.

Lastly, you'll want to carry Malpractice Insurance in case accidents happen. With social media constantly at our fingertips, it's easy to make a mistake in the digital age that comes back to haunt you later. Your Malpractice Insurance can…

  • Cover lawsuits over professional negligence.
  • Cover fines and legal defense fees related to license revocation or disciplinary proceedings.

Be sure to check with your insurance agent that your policy can adequately address your financial risks in both these instances.

Next: Part 2: Social Media Risks for Psychologists

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