You already know the importance of boundaries, so today I'm going to share how to create social media boundaries with clients so that you can grow your practice and increase your engagement, all while considering both your needs and the needs of your clients.
This is a 'Jane Explains' episode where I answer a question from a listener.
So take a look and post on social media with confidence.
Today’s question is from Janice where she asks:
“I love listening to your podcasts and have found them very useful and interesting.
As you talk about using social media, how would you ensure client confidentiality and anonymity if any client or potential client comments on your posts?
And you do want to encourage comments and engage on social media. Do you contract with a client not to engage with them on social media, because there's no way of fully controlling who can see comments or reposting your activities?”
Great question Janice!
I’m sure many counsellors have wondered about how to use social media while feeling safe in the knowledge that they have considered both their own needs and the needs of the client.
Social media is a great way to grow your private practice
Firstly I want to reassure you that being on social media is a fantastic way to grow your private practice.
And on social media, one of the goals is increasing engagement, which basically means you are taking steps to encourage people to leave comments on your posts so you absolutely DO want people to leave comments.
Social media is fantastic to increase the know, like, and trust factor because when used correctly, it's an amazing marketing tool:
So the way to manage this with clients is to be clear of your boundaries.
How do you create social media boundaries with your clients?
1. Get clear on personal disclosure before you start
I highly recommend getting really clear on your personal disclosure boundaries before you get started on social media.
Which basically means to work out what you're comfortable talking about in advance AND (and possibly more importantly) what you're not comfortable talking about.
Personal Disclosure for therapists isn't one of those one size fits all answers, it varies a huge amount between different counsellors.
For example, when I was a counsellor, I didn't share anything personal on social media and you don’t have to either. But you DO need to know in advance where your personal boundaries lie.
Knowing beforehand what you are comfortable sharing means you can relax and feel reassured about posting.
Not sure about your personal disclosure boundaries?
I did a two-part podcast series about personal disclosure in marketing and what therapists need to know.
It’s worth taking a listen because it will help you to get clear in your own mind about what you're comfortable sharing:
2. Talk about social media with your clients
Social media is everywhere, so you should at the very least have a conversation in your initial assessment session. I would talk about it in a similar way to what happens when you bump into them when out and about.
You might also want to add a section on their contract to cover social media.
The main things to mention are friend requests and private messaging. I’d say very simply that I don’t accept friend requests from clients and that I don’t respond to DM’s.
So I might say that ‘You might see me on Instagram and feel free to follow, I share resources to help with <whatever your niche is>. However, I don’t respond to DM’s'.
Or on LinkedIn ‘I have an account on LinkedIn where I share resources to help people <whatever your niche is> but it's inappropriate for me to connect with clients there'.
3. Trust that you will handle anything appropriately
Trust that if a client posts something that’s inappropriate for socials, that you can handle it.
If you are clear with clients about your personal boundaries, then relax and get comfortable with your social media posting.
Honestly, I've not come across a client posting inappropriately on a counsellor's account. I'm not saying it's never happened, but if it does I think that the most important thing to remember is that you will handle it.
4. Taking Responsibility
Let’s consider responsibility for a moment.
With confidentiality, you can only ever be responsible for your part within that. So it’s your job to uphold your client's confidentiality.
However, the client can talk about their therapy with whoever they want to and if they choose to share something on your social media account, well, that's their decision.
Social media isn’t a new thing, people understand that their post will be in the public domain. So if you’ve discussed your boundaries in advance, ultimately it’s their responsibility about what they share in public.
So Janice, I really hope this has helped and that you will continue using social media to grow your practice safe in the knowledge that you have considered both your own needs and the needs of the client.
Do you have a question you’d like me to answer? If so, just drop me a line at email@example.com and I could answer your question in the next episode of Jane Explains.