Wednesday June 28th 2017

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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:

  1. How clever the interventionist is.
  2. How busy she is.
  3. 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.

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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!

Thoughts and feedback always appreciated. Post in the user comments section.

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About the Author: LOUISE STANGER Ed.D, LCSW, CWDF, CIP Dr. Louise Stanger – speaker, educator, clinician, and interventionist – uses an invitational intervention approach with complicated mental health, substance abuse, chronic pain and process addiction clients.
Louise publishes in the Huffington Post, Journal of Alcohol Studies, The Sober World, Recovery Campus, DB Resources, Counselor Magazine, Recovery View, Addiction Blog and other media. The San Diego Business Journal listed her as one of the “Top 10 Women Who Mean Business” and is considered by Quit Alcohol as one of the Top 10 Interventionists in the country. She speaks all over the country and trains staff at Paradigm Malibu, New Found Life, Lakeview Health etc. and develops original Family programs such as the one at Driftwood Recovery in Austin Texas. She is the recipient of the 2014 Foundations Fan Favorite Speaker Award and the 2016 Joseph L. Galletta Spirit of Recovery Award. She is honored to be part of Vendome Summits for Clinical Excellence this year doing keynotes across the United States as well as presenting at Foundations Recovery Networks. Her book Falling Up: A Memoir of Renewal is available on Amazon and Learn to Thrive: An Intervention Handbook on her website at www.allaboutinterventions.com.

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