Social Media & Ethical Considerations Janlee Wong, MSW National Association of Social Workers California Chapter Presented to San Fernando Valley Unit June 8, 2012
Why social media?• Original powerful social networking tool• Free• Fit with the individualistic culture of our time• How do you get the best fit with your personality, culture, likes, dislikes, but to present yourself outwardly?• How do you get rather instant feedback on yourself?
Safe Social Exploration• How do you get to know other people without actually meeting them?• Safe, you control the meeting, you dont have to observe any niceties or manners• How do you get to know people you already know but dont really know alot about them?• Safe, they volunteer their information; they seek approval or disapproval from you and others
The Thrill of Social Media• Excitement• Daring and Risk• Challenge• Disappointment• Reward• Positive reinforcement• DRAMA
The world unlimited• When I was in college, my world was very small, limited to my classes, my school and my community• When my daughters entered college, their world was unlimited, as unlimited as the Internet• The possibility of finding "matches," likes, dislikes, alternatives, and differences is unlimited
Social media turns commercial• A fad that didnt fade• A gold mine of likes and dislikes for millions of individuals• A way to "spread the word" to millions instantaneously• Imagine the marketing/business applications
What does it mean for clinicians?• Clinicians have a need to form therapuetic relationships• Social media is a means to share and exchange personal, professional, cultural and other information• Social media is a way to get the word out quickly about ones professional self and business
Other considerations• Can social media help develop and maintain therapuetic relationships• Can social media reach those who cant be reached by traditional means but need/want help?• Does social media redefine the traditional definitions of confidentiality and dual relationship
Confidentiality• Traditional confidentiality is one way (clinician maintains clients confidentiality but client can say whatever they want about themselves and their therapy/counseling/case to whomever they want• Social media continues the one way street for clients, but the clinician is challenged to not break confidentiality but operate in an open networking system
Hidden But Not• Venting about clients on Facebook – Even without identifying details, violation of client clinician confidentiality – Clients can sometimes identify themselves – Done before in an elevator, office but not global• Google you, Google me
Dual Relationship• Traditional client/clinician relationships were bound by a physical office, where no one knew. Even chance encounters could be managed.• Social media relationships are open to the "everyone"• Despite some "privacy" and "friend" controls which are not foolproof
What can be found out• Licensing boards can use social media too• Evidence of a dual relationship• Dual relationships are not just sexual• They can be platonic or business
Are their ethical uses of social media?• One macro social worker believes social media is an essential tool to community organizing• Sharing information, bringing to light injustices• Applying pressure tactics such as change.org – Injustice- Trayvon Martin – Greedy fees - BofA, Sallie Mae – Policy change - Access to guns by mental health clients
Evolution of Ethics• Can ethics evolve?• Can it evolve to adapt to social media?• How has it evolved? – The Ethical Code is full of exceptions – Legal overides such as Tarasoff – Special therapuetic situations such as corrections – The hiring of consumers in the mental health system
How could ethics evolve due to social media?• Will/do clients share about their therapuetic experiences on social media?• Will/do clinicians learn more about their clients through social media?• Will/do clients learn more about their clinicians through social media?• Can social media be regulated?
Your own considerations• Are you too drawn into, intrigued by social media?• Will/do you have a social media presence?• Will/do you communicate with clients through social media?• Will/do the benefits of social media outweigh the risks?• Have/can you prepare yourself for social media whether you use it or not?