Social media pitfalls
Of course, blogging isn’t a cure-all. Many psychologists remind
clients who blog that whatever they write about should also be
discussed in the therapy room.
“Social media can be a good adjunct to treatment, but not
necessarily a replacement,” says Colorado clinical psychologist
Stephanie Smith, PsyD, who blogs about the importance of
psychology and good mental health. That said, Smith recognizes
that many people can’t afford treatment, don’t have access
to therapy or just don’t believe in it. “If online support and
resources are all that some folks can manage, then I think it’s
important we support them in that,” she says.
Another consideration for social media users is the comment
section in blogs and other posts, since some comments can
be extremely negative and hurtful.
Serani recommends clients and other
psychologists use “comment moderation”
tools on their blogs, which allow you
to review comments before they are
published, or to create settings where no
comments are allowed.
“Negative comments are inevitable
when blogging, and in fact, there are
people who troll blogs just to find
something to argue, berate or taunt,”
Serani says. “Resist talking back, arguing
or trying to prove your point to the
negative commenter. Instead, delete his
Psychologists should also be aware
that some blogs and websites promote
harmful behaviors, such as pro-anorexia
and pro-bulimia blogs or sites that
detail ways to commit suicide. If a
patient discloses that he or she chats
with others online about problems, the
therapist can investigate the kinds of
communications that the client is having
to determine whether they are supportive
or destructive ones, says Smith.
Overall, it is critical for psychologists
to adhere to the APA Ethics Code if they
blog or recommend blogging to their
clients. Smith, for example, underscores
that psychologists should never Google a
client or visit a client’s blog unless he or
she requests it.
“I also tell folks they are welcome to
follow me on Twitter or subscribe to my
blog or like my professional Facebook
page, but that I’m not going to follow
them back since that can breach their
confidentiality,” Smith says.
Such ethical considerations are important to keep at the
forefront since blogging and other social media are here to stay,
Mattu says. “There’s a lot of value in sharing and writing about
experiences, so it’s important for psychologists to understand
how the technology can be used in the best way.” n
Amy Novotney is a journalist in Chicago.
APA ID: 99006004
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