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Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Blog me This

I attended an orientation last night for the university I will be teaching a course for this fall (about which I am SUPER EXCITED). At this orientation, one of the other professors mentioned an ethics conference he attended where the therapists and other helping professionals were encouraged to get rid of any social networking pages or other forms of public identity online because of how the finding of this information might affect the clients. He said there was a case recently of a therapist whose license was revoked because her client (who Googled her) found her Facebook profile and, after seeing a picture of her in a bathing suit, felt this changed the dynamics of their relationship and impaired his therapy.

We could focus all day on the reasons this wasn't really the therapist's fault, as he had gone out his way to look for information about her that she did not volunteer, and so on, but the point is that the committee ruled the burden was on her, and was encouraging all helping professionals to steer clear of social networking internet activity.

Which leads me to a lack of cultural understanding directed by older clinicians toward younger clinicians. I am 27. I keep track of everyone via Facebook. I mean everyone. My grandma is on Facebook. I followed the play by play of my niece's birth on Facebook. I don't get people's email addresses or phone numbers if I want to stay in contact; instead I ask, "Are you on Facebook?" And they usually are. To ask me to get rid of my Facebook is like asking me to cut contact with all the people I have ever known who I don't currently see. In fact, the recent dilemma is whether Google+ is going to be something I need to invest time into or whether I can just keep things how they are.

Social networking is also a way to present myself publicly in an effective way. It doesn't bother me that potential employers might look me up- I welcome it because I make sure my social networking face is professional and appropriate.

I understand the need for discretion and not allowing just anybody to see photos and personal information. I have appropriate blocks on my Facebook to ensure privacy and make sure not to post anything too personal.

So I found this declaration to avoid social networking as distressing and somewhat insensitive to a generation that relies on the internet to keep track of people throughout their lifetimes.

What are your thoughts on this? Do helping professionals have the right to personal social networking? Or ought we to be ethically bound to internet silence for the sake of our clients?

To add to the discussion on the topic of social networking, head over to The Strangest Situation for information from the same conference as it relates to teenagers. 

1 comment:

  1. Dear Carolyn, I am so excited for you and I see your point about Social networking. It is wierd that you can not have a personal life. I think in ministry people have to be careful also but I wouldn't think that you would have to in other professions. Maybe you should go by a different name like Shelly Bennett for friends on facebook and clients could not see that.