How to Write a Social Media Policy for Employees of a Mental Health Practice

A social media policy for employees sets a clear line on what and who are allowed to post on behalf of your practice.

Having a social media presence benefits a mental health practice. Your current or future patients are already searching for you, so being active in social media allows you to curate how your practice appears online. But, who gets access, and what are they allowed to post? In a group practice, it’s important to implement a social media policy for employees. Doing so will ensure everyone is on the same page, and your practice shines online.

Who accesses social media in your practice?

One of the most important reasons to implement a social media policy for employees is to ensure your practitioners are all on the same page. One clinician may feel comfortable engaging with their clients online, while another may feel averse to seeing a client’s social media posts. In a group environment, each clinician – all with individualized opinions on social media usage – represents the practice. An enforced policy shows a unified front to any potential or current clients.

In a group practice, it can be difficult to determine who needs access to the practice’s social media accounts. Will all practitioners be able to post or reply online? Is just one person in charge of social media? Also, who reviews the posts for metrics and to ensure they are appropriate?

Only your practice can determine how many people should have access. Some will find just one person should curate a social media presence, while others believe multiple “voices” works for their practice. If you’re unsure of what approach to take, try both out for a month at a time, and measure the response to determine which works best.

Regardless of the route your practice chooses, it is wise to review social posting and analytics as a group. All practitioners should feel comfortable with the posts coming from the account, and have an opportunity to share opinions on ways to boost marketing metrics.

To post or not to post? Include these specifics in your social media policy for employees.

01-how-to-write-a-social-media-policy-for-employees-of-a-mental-health-practiceThere’s a big difference between how a small retail store approaches social media posting and how a mental health group practice does. For example, the store may utilize social media to advertise sales or showcase customer testimonials. Mental health practices, on the other hand, may use social media for branding – boosting a positive social image. Unlike a retail store, it would be considered unethical for mental health clinicians to endorse testimonials on social media accounts.

Your social media policy for employees needs to explicitly state not to respond to reviews or testimonials of any kind on the practice page. In fact, a disclaimer should be put on your practice’s social media sites – and also those where reviews may come in that you do not manage, such as Yelp – to indicate you are not soliciting testimonials, and you do not endorse the posting of them, either.

The American Psychological Association’s Ethics Code states (in Standard 5.05) that soliciting testimonials is unethical: “Psychologists do not solicit testimonials from current therapy clients/patients or other persons who because of their particular circumstances are vulnerable to undue influence.” Similarly, the National Association of Social Workers addresses testimonials in section 4.07 of their Code of Ethics: “Social workers should not engage in uninvited solicitation of potential clients who, because of their circumstances, are vulnerable to undue influence, manipulation, or coercion.” Their statement on soliciting testimonials matches the sentiment of APA’s.

Testimonials aren’t the only type of posts that shake the ethics barrier. One of the most important requirements to include in your social media policy for employees is never to post anything related to clients. Even anything implied is considered unethical.

Instead, keep your social media presence light and inspirational. Share motivational quotes, affirmations, meditations, videos on mindfulness, or clips with links to any blog content you’ve written. Remember that social media moves very quickly, so republish your old blog content regularly.

02-how-to-write-a-social-media-policy-for-employees-of-a-mental-health-practiceWarn your staff to watch out for copyrighted materials. If you find value in someone else’s content, ask them for permission to share it with your social network. If they agree, give them credit, too.

Social media is not the place for therapeutic advice. All practitioners must agree not to engage in any conversation using the practice accounts that is therapeutic in nature or could be implied as being therapeutic.

Don’t intermingle the practice social media accounts with any personal social media accounts. For example, your practice will have a Facebook page, not a profile. It should not be linked to any of the mental health clinicians personal profiles.

Consider adding to your social media policy for employees that practitioners should not “like” or “follow” the practice’s social media accounts. Doing so will make it easier for current or future clients to find the personal accounts of your staff.

03-how-to-write-a-social-media-policy-for-employees-of-a-mental-health-practiceSimilarly, anyone with access to the practice’s social media accounts must agree not to store passwords or stay logged in. It’s easy to accidentally stay logged in, on a phone, for example, and accidentally post something personal on a professional page. To completely avoid that from happening, your staff should log in and out without automated password storing.

At SimplePractice, we understand the importance of secure online transactions so you can feel confident when you upload images, documents and any other type of file in your client records. The same goes for any financial transactions. Are you ready to take your group practice to the next level? Try SimplePractice for free for 30 days. You’ll wish you started sooner.

Do you have a social media policy for employees of your group practice? What would you recommend? Let us know in the comments.

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