“Is it a good idea to use Facebook to grow my practice?” and, “Should I use Facebook at all?”, are important concerns for responsible, ethical psychologists, counselors, and psychotherapists.
The path of least resistance is to completely ignore Facebook. Even if you don’t want to use Facebook to grow your practice; unless you live in a cave without Internet access, ignoring Facebook just may not be feasible. Do you share photos, memories or chat with friends and family on Facebook? If so, you need to be concerned about how your personal Facebook activity can leak into your professional life.
Help is Available
At TherapyEverywhere.com we have experience and expertise in leveraging Facebook and other social media to help your practice prosper. Read the information below and give us a call today. Or, just fill out the contact form and click Send. We’re here to help.
How Facebook Can Affect You as a Mental Health Professional
You may have joined Facebook intentionally to stay in touch with your friends or family, or you might have signed up because a childhood friend, favorite relative, or colleague wanted to share photos with you. You’re in. You have Facebook friends. You have people visiting your Facebook page. You may not know it, but if you have a Facebook account (even if you haven’t logged on in ages), people can be visiting your profile, seeing who your friends are, and even looking at that embarrassing picture from your student days.
Left unchecked, Facebook can erase the boundaries that you thought you had constructed between your personal and professional life.
What Are The Options for a Therapist Today?
Go cold turkey. Give up Facebook altogether. Erase your account. This is an approach that makes sense for some, but it also means that you give up the opportunity to reach out and draw new clients into your practice through Facebook. Of course, it also means that you may be out of the loop with family and friends who do use Facebook to communicate.
Ignore the issues. Deliberate blindness to the effect that your personal activities on Facebook have on your professional image and client relationships is always an option. It’s not a good option, but it is an option.
Use the technology wisely. Like most technologies, Facebook can be harnessed for your gain; allowing you both personal and professional networking. Learn “best practices” for mental health professionals on Facebook and you could have the best of all worlds.
Can I Use Facebook To Grow My Practice? Yes, But Proceed With Caution
Facebook makes it harder than ever to draw line between your personal and professional activities; however, it can be done. Unless you go completely cold turkey from Facebook, it must be done. Here are some best practice guidelines.
Best Practice 1: Build a Facebook Profile for Your Business
Separate your professional persona from your personal life by building a Facebook page for your practice. You will be a therapist who can proudly say, “I use Facebook to grow my practice but don’t blur the boundaries with my professional life.”
Best Practice 2: On Your Personal Page, Never “Friend” Clients
Facebook does everything in its power to encourage you to get as many Facebook friends as you can imagine. Tread carefully when you accept or send a friend request. Never accept a friend request from a client! Never send a friend request to a client!
Facebook will prompt you, cajole you, and attempt to get you to invite everyone in your address book as Facebook friends. Don’t do it. Your contact list in Gmail or Outlook or similar is likely to include people that you don’t want to share your personal life with.
Best Practice 3: Set Strict Privacy Settings for Your Personal Page
Typically, the default privacy settings on your personal profile allow Facebook users who are not your friends to see at least some aspects of your Facebook profile. Historically, Facebook has been pushing users in the direction of looser privacy settings. Do you want clients to view your photos? To read comments on your photo albums?
Set the privacy settings for your personal Facebook page to the strictest possible settings. Do not have a public Facebook profile for your personal page. Set privacy settings on your “Facebook Wall” so that non-friends can not view your Wall at all.
Best Practice 4: Consider if Your Business Facebook Page Promotes Your Practice
Facebook users can “Like” your Facebook practice page. Imagine that “Likeable Luke” likes your Facebook business page. Luke has a Facebook Friend we’ll call “Nosy Norman”. When Nosy Norman visits your page, he can see that Luke liked your page. Is this a privacy consideration for you?
Resources for Learning More and Doing Better Using Facebook
You might want to check out the Facebook marketing page, or check out our article on Social Marketing for Therapists: You Are What You Post or read our article on how website content and social media can help your practice grow.
Help is available. At TherapyEverywhere.com we are experts in using Facebook and other social media to help your practice prosper. Give us a call today or just fill out the contact form and click Send. We’re here to help.If this was helpful to you and your practice, share it!