I have seen discussions about technology use for mental health counselors, but it’s nearly always about the numerous risks of technology. What about the benefits? We’re told to be careful about any information we post online, and told a “solution” is to entirely avoid using the Internet as part of our practices. The following article in Counseling Today recommends “going offline” for referrals to avoid any chance of a client’s being identified. http://ct.counseling.org/2017/11/technology-tutor-revisiting-ethics-discussing-clients-online/#comment-810322 I understand there is concern about privacy on public online forums. Though the example referral request was merely “Looking for referral for 30-something male dealing with depression. Needs counselor in network with ABC Insurance.” Clearly not over the line in disclosing information. The discussion of this example was followed up with “what if” after “what if.” What if advertising companies somehow connect the client to the counselor? What if someone screenshots the information and can make the connection?
These “what ifs” are not helpful. They’re fearmongering. Why don’t we learn how to use technology to help clients best instead of avoiding it? If I worked with a client who said there’s something they’d like to do and it would make their life way easier but they won’t do it because of a huge list of “what ifs”, I would sense an anxiety problem! And you know what I’d tell them? “Look into your options. Do your research and be careful. We can’t always see every possibility, but avoiding making the decision isn’t a solution.”
Avoidance of technology is not a solution. Education about technology is.
If we worry about the privacy of online forums, we can spearhead private secure forums for counselors to use. Don’t just complain. Make a change. That’s what we expect of clients, so it’s irresponsible to expect otherwise of ourselves.