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  1. Dawn
    September 12, 2013 @ 7:47 am

    I so appreciate your work/blog. I need to tell you that first (I recommend it to all of my colleagues!). Anyway, I fully expect my clients to google me and I have a large footprint because I’m also a freelance writer and I’m all over the web. That’s fine, we can talk about it if they find anything that concerns them. I, however, do not go find them even though I’m adept at googling (it’s part of writing work — vetting sources, finding interviewees, etc.). I have run into clients on Facebook before (Central Ohio is a fairly small community in a lot of ways) and I just blocked them. In my social media disclosure I say that I will do this. I don’t tell them when it happens but I like to make it clear upfront. Even though they wouldn’t be able to see much about me (because I keep my FB on lockdown), I do it so that their space on FB won’t feel violated by running into me on a friend’s wall or community page.


  2. Roy Huggins, MS NCC
    September 12, 2013 @ 11:26 am

    My only quibble is with the assumption of a power differential between therapists and clients. I know that’s an assumed thing in our professions, but I’m not convinced that it is as ever-present or monolithic as it is often made out to be.

    However, I agree that a quid-pro-quo approach to judging whether or not to seek out information about a client on the Web seems inappropriate. It strikes me as much like indiscriminate self-disclosure or other boundary crossings done for the benefit of the therapist. I.e. if one is inclined to Google a client, it seems to me that a personal check-in around the reasons for the search and an examination of whether or not the search is in the client’s interests or one’s own, would be indicated.


    • drkkolmes
      September 18, 2013 @ 12:40 pm

      Roy, I’m happy to argue with you on this. 🙂

      I will acknowledge that there are some more egalitarian types of therapy. But I have heard so many stories the emphasize the power differential in variety of ways. One of the more typical stories I hear is about clients who want to end therapy but a previous therapist made termination very difficult, either telling them that they were not finished or they were avoiding something they needed to work on. Given how many patients then feel pressured to continue, I think we can surmise that this is not a relationship that is experienced as two equals.

      I also think that the power to diagnose creates quite power differential.

      I have also met many people socially or at parties who, upon hearing I’m a psychologist, assume I am analyzing them or I am able to know things about them. So think there is a certain kind of mythology that we sometimes hold.

      And all of this is separate from the fact that if we are using the information we find on the Internet to actually make treatment decisions or adjust diagnoses that influence a client’s life, it’s hard for me to see that as psychotherapists and patients being on equal footing. Just saying.

      Thanks for commenting. Always nice to see you here.

  3. Karen Erlichman LCSW
    September 13, 2013 @ 2:37 pm

    Keely, thank you SO much for this thoughtful, intelligent posting. I always appreciate your fresh, ethical perspective on these contemporary issues for therapists and clients in the digital age. Googling clients feels like opening their mail without permission (remember snail mail?), a boundary violation, and yes, you are right; this is an informed consent issue. Conversely, I fully expect that clients will search for info about us on line, which raises a whole ‘nutha basket of issues for the therapeutic relationship. It’s also why I have a professional website that allows my own voice to have an intentional on-line presence.


  4. Psychologie
    September 17, 2013 @ 10:31 am

    Thank you so much for your blog. I loved to read your article and will recommend it to our clients. All the best for further publishing!!!


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