Addiction Interventionists Online: Are You Breaking Confidentiality?
An Op-Ed Post
By Louise A. Stanger Ed.D, LCSW, CDWF , CIP
Digital Media Marketing Etiquette
Since 1973, I have been a licensed clinician and a proud interventionist. I received my first supervision from Dr. Frank Picard, a contemporary of Vern Johnson, author of Family Intervention and – at that time – Director of Spring Brook. I was doing interventions long before I knew there were so many interventionists and styles. In fact, I have had the good fortune to take many an intervention course and develop based on sound clinical principles my own way of performing interventions. I am a proud member of both NII as well as AIS.
I love the fact that in the digital media age we can connect across the globe on Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram, or LinkedIn. These platforms have become major marketing tools.
But they can also trip us up.
Inadvertent Breach of Confidence?
I feel compelled today to talk about how we as colleagues in the behavioral health field inadvertently violate confidentiality of clients as we market and tell the world about our successful interventions. This most commonly is done in the way we post about our clients and places we go.
I was perusing Facebook the other day and found a few posts as examples. “Off to Zimbabwe for an intervention… Landed in Jackson Hole… Intervention success at XYZ Treatment Center….” This post and posts like that are not so much about us helping families save someone’s life and start them on the journey of recovery. Rather, they seem self-serving, a marketing tool that shows:
- How clever the interventionist is.
- How busy she is.
- What treatment center she is using.
Let me be clear: I have nothing wrong with ethical advertising and marketing. However, when it’s done at the expense of a client, I take grave offense.
There is not – please correct me if I am wrong – a licensed clinician, an ASAM psychiatrist, or Physician I know who posts daily how many people they have seen in their offices and where they have referred them. It simply isn’t done!
My Invitation to Interventionists: Think Twice
Which brings me to my invitation. I want to invite all interventionists – whatever your modality or certification – to think twice about your posts. Together, let’s make sure we are maintaining confidentiality and honoring our clients. Tell folks:
- when you visit centers
- when you speak at conferences
- what courses you are taking
- what collaborations you have
- when you are out to breakfast, lunch or dinner with your colleagues
…etc. But please do not use Facebook, Instagram, or social media to let the world know you have just taken client Y to X!
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