Social Media GuidelinesThe Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards (ASPPB), the national organization for psychology regulatory/licensing boards in Canada and the USA, developed and recently adopted social media guidelines that it recommends member boards use for regulating social media uses.

The purposes of the ASPPB telepsychology guidelines are to:

  1. Define what is considered social media and to provide guidance to psychology regulatory boards in both countries in identifying and communicating what is considered appropriate and inappropriate uses of social media and to promote consistency and clarity about this across jurisdictions, and
  2. Give guidance to individual psychologists about how to apply ethical standards to the uses of the many different forms of social media.

The development of the guidelines included reviewing the professional literature for health professions, relevant guidelines, standards, current laws, and regulations. Included are guidelines about confidentiality, informed consent, risk management, competence, multiple relationships, professional conduct, the security of information, personal use of social media, and regulatory board uses of social media.  Vignettes for each of the major categories of guidelines are provided as examples of how the guidelines can be applied.  Since the ASPPB telepsychology guidelines are aspirational rather than new mandatory standards, they allow for some latitude in how they can be applied in a wide range of circumstances. Given the increasing interjurisdictional nature of psychological practice and mobility of psychologists across jurisdictions during their careers, the use of a common set of social media guidelines by psychology licensing boards for judging social media uses will benefit both psychologists and regulatory boards.

The ASPPB telepsychology guidelines, “Guidelines for the Use of Social Media by Psychologists in Practice and by Psychology Regulatory Boards,”  are posted on the ASPPB website.  In addition to the guidelines document, a 64-page whitepaper that includes background information obtained in developing the guidelines is also posted at the same location. Given the amount of thought and effort put into these Social media guidelines by ASPPB members, it may be helpful to note that they are publicly available for free, and useful for all healthcare professionals to consider whewn making decisions about their use of social media of all types.

An article titled The Development of Social Media Guidelines for Psychologists and for Regulatory Use, coauthored by Kenneth Drude and Karen Messer-Engel, describing the guidelines and the process used in creating them was recently published online by the Journal for Technology in Behavioral Science. 

Two additional TBHI articles describing HIPAA-compliant social media are also available here: HIPAA & Social Media: The HIPAA-Compliant Social Media Guide  and Are You Engaging in HIPAA Compliant Social Media?

 

Kenneth Drude, PhD, is a past president of the Ohio Board of Psychology, a past president and finance officer of the Ohio Psychological Association (OPA), and served on the OPA board for 28 years. Dr. Drude chaired the OPA committee that developed the first state psychological association telepsychology guidelines adopted in 2008.  He served on task forces that developed the American Telemedicine Association telemental health guidelines and drafted the Association for State and Provincial Psychology Boards’ interjurisdictional compact for telepsychology. His major areas of professional interests are in telemental health policy, regulation, training, and practice. He is an active member of the Coalition for Technology in Behavioral Science, American Psychological Association, American Telemedicine Association, and the Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards.