- Center for Ethical Practice - https://centerforethicalpractice.org -

Social Media & Electronic Technology: What are the Ethical Issues?


What are the ethical implications of posting our private information online? What are the guidelines for interacting with clients on Facebook or other social network online sites? What are the necessary safeguards and where should we draw the line? What are the ethical and legal implications of transmitting client information electronically via computer or FAX; storing client information on computers, laptops, external drives, or disks; communicating with clients via email, twitter, or other electronic formats; using mobile phones or other portable communications devices?  What are the distinctions between our profession’s ethical requirements and HIPAA’s legal requirements? What are the implications for training our clinical and/or non-clinical staff, supervisees, or students?


  I. Does My Ethics Code Say Anything About Participating in Social Media?

 II. Does My Profession Have Recommendations About This?

III. Does My Electronic Technology Have Legal Implications?

Federal Law – HIPAA
Virginia Statutory Law & Regulations

IV. What Technology Safeguards Do I Have In Place?

Using Electronic Equipment
FAX Machines
Blackberries & Other Communications Devices
Communicating With Clients Electronically
E-Mail, Texting, Tweeting, Facebook, etc.
Providing Clinical Services Electronically
Storing Client Data Electronically
Transmitting Client Data to Others Electronically
Submitting Third Party Reimbursement Claims
Disclosing Client Information & Records to Others

V. Have I Informed My Clients About the Risks?

VI. What Training Do I Provide About This in My Setting?  Is it Adequate?

Clinical Colleagues
Non-Clinical Staff – Clerical Staff, Receptionist, Cleaning Staff
Business Associates – Billing Service, Answering Service, Others
Supervisees, Interns, Volunteers
Family or Friends With Access to My Electronics

VII. What is My Decision-Making Process About Which Technologies to Use & Which to Avoid?

Educational Goals:
(a) Describe your ethical standards or professional recommendations about social media.
(b) Describe ethical standards or professional recommendations about other uses of electronic technology
(c) Describe some of the risks with social media and other uses of electronic technology, and indicate appropriate safeguards.

Workshop History:
March 17, 2018 - Richmond VA
March 31, 2018 - Fairfax VA
May 25, 2018 - Charlottesville VA