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  • Writer's pictureGreg Custer, MS, LCPC

Why Doesn't Your Counselor Rank Well on Social Media?

In today's highly connected world, mental health professionals are faced with a unique challenge. The internet and social media platforms have made it easier than ever before for businesses and professionals to reach out to potential clients and customers. However, when it comes to the field of counseling and psychotherapy, asking clients or former patients to leave reviews on sites such as Google and Yelp is not an option - but why?

One of the key reasons why mental health professionals are discouraged from asking clients to leave public reviews is due to ethical standards that govern the relationship between Counselors and clients. These guidelines are in place to protect clients' privacy, safety, and well-being, and to ensure that Counselors are acting in their clients' best interests.

For example, the American Counseling Association (ACA) Code of Ethics highlights the importance of Counselors "avoid imposing their values on clients, refrain from imposing counselor’s personal or religious beliefs, and respect the diversity of clients" (ACA, 2014, A.4.b). This ethical standard recognizes the importance of respecting a client's autonomy and individuality, which can be compromised when a Counselor asks them to leave a public review. By leaving a review, the client may feel pressured to express their agreement with the Counselor's views and opinions, which could ultimately influence their decision-making process.

Similarly, the American Psychological Association (APA) Code of Ethics emphasizes the importance "psychologists respect the dignity and worth of all people, and the rights of individuals to privacy, confidentiality, and self-determination" (APA, 2017, 1.01). Leaving a public review may expose a client's personal information and opinions to others, which could potentially compromise their privacy and self-determination.

Additionally, the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) Code of Ethics emphasizes the importance that "social workers should protect the confidentiality of all information obtained in the course of professional service, except for compelling professional reasons" (NASW, 2017, 1.07). By leaving a public review, a client's confidentiality could be breached, which could ultimately compromise their safety and well-being.

It's essential for Counselors to prioritize their clients' well-being and privacy and to avoid any actions that could harm or exploit them in any way. As a counseling client, it's essential to understand these ethical standards and communicate any concerns or discomfort that you may have if a Counselor requests that you leave a public review.

There are alternative ways for counselors to gain visibility and build their reputation without compromising their ethical obligations or compromising client confidentiality. For instance, counselors can encourage clients to provide feedback through internal feedback systems within their practice or through anonymous feedback surveys. This feedback can be used to improve the quality of their services and address any concerns clients may have.

Counselors can also ask clients for written testimonials or endorsements that can be used in promotional materials, such as brochures or websites. However, it's important to obtain written consent from clients before using any endorsements or testimonials, and to ensure that the information shared is anonymous and does not compromise client confidentiality.

Another way counselors can gain visibility is by establishing a strong online presence through their professional website, blog, or social media platforms. They can share helpful information, provide resources, and showcase their expertise in a way that is informative and engaging to potential clients. This can help to build their reputation and attract new clients.

It's important for counselors to find ways to promote their services in a way that is consistent with ethical standards and prioritizes the well-being and privacy of their clients. By adopting ethical marketing practices and finding creative ways to build their reputation, counselors can enhance their visibility and reach without compromising their professional obligations.

Ultimately, by understanding these ethical standards and communicating your needs and concerns, you can help to ensure that you receive the best possible care and support in your counseling relationship. While leaving a public review may seem like a harmless gesture, it's important to recognize the potential impact that it could have on your privacy, autonomy, and overall well-being. By prioritizing your needs and advocating for your own care, you can help to ensure that your counseling experience is both positive and ethical.


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