📣 Marketing and ethics
Welcome to the one new subscriber who joined since last week. 101 people are reading today’s newsletter. If you’re reading this but haven’t subscribed, subscribe here.
As a therapist, how do you market yourself without compromising ethical and licensure requirements? I get this question all the time.
The short answer is to follow the guidelines outlined by your professional or regulating body so you don’t get yourself into trouble. But guidelines can be confusing and often leave room for interpretation.
One therapist I spoke to said they have a social media agreement they have all clients sign (there’s a great policy template available here for $10). They don’t follow clients back, respond to their messages, or engage with them in the comments. They make it very clear that if their clients follow or comment, they are breaking confidentiality.
Here are some other general guidelines to follow when it comes to marketing yourself.
Selling or promoting yourself
Some therapists believe it’s unethical to “sell” or “promote” themselves to potential clients. This just isn’t true. If you want to have a successful practice, you will need clients, which means you have to market yourself.
Interacting with clients
Don’t reply to comments, tweets, or otherwise communicate with clients in public online if you’ve already established a client/therapist relationship. This could compromise their confidentiality. Don’t text or direct message clients on social media either. Whenever possible, communicate via secure email and keep a copy of all exchanges in their chart.
Use of search engines
Don’t look up clients on Google or social media. This could be considered a potential breach of privacy and trust. It could also alter your impression of your client and change the relationship as it can create confusion in regard to whether their online activity is part of their treatment (for assessment or diagnostic purposes).
Soliciting client testimonials
The APA Ethics Code states that it is unethical for psychologists to solicit testimonials: “Psychologists do not solicit testimonials from current therapy clients/patients or other persons who because of their particular circumstances are vulnerable to undue influence.” With that said, clients are welcome to write a review on a review site if they choose to do so.
Soliciting client referrals
Don’t pester past clients by nagging them for referrals. In general, if you let your clients know that you are open to taking on more clients, many of them would be more than happy to refer others to you.
If you’re still unsure, I recommend consulting with your ethical guidelines for your license and making sure that your marketing isn’t misleading or predatory in any way. Use your best judgment.
I’m taking a break for the holidays and will be back in your inbox on Tuesday, January 5. If there’s anything you’d like to see covered in 2021, hit reply. I’d love to hear from you.
PS: I'm looking forward to the REAL LOVE READY VIRTUAL SUMMIT on relational communication that's taking place next year from January 14 to February 11. The price goes up after December 25, so click the image below to grab your ticket today.