Ethics and Risk Management: Social Media and the Internet

The Internet and social media create a number of new ethical and clinical challenges for practitioners who use social media to interact on the Internet or who provide online mental health services.

As the line between public and private continues to blur, the tremendous availability of online personal information threatens to alter what has been an almost sacred relationship between therapist and patient. In this program, Keely Kolmes, PsyD, and Frederic Reamer, PhD, focus on such questions as confidentiality, informed consent, self-disclosure, social media policies, documentation, boundaries, practice competence, and potential malpractice claims when ethical standards are violated.

Target audience:  Psychologists, mental health counselors, marriage and family therapists, social workers, addiction counselors, nurses

You can access the audio to these interviews via your computer's MP3 player and/or read the text of the interviews.

Learning Objectives

Upon completing this program, you should be able to:

  • Identify ethical issues related to use of social media and the Internet;
  • Describe potential risks and benefits of using social media;
  • Develop a social media policy relevant to their practice; and
  • Define strategies for minimizing the risk of ethical violations when using the new technologies.
  • Print Version / Test Preview
  • Part 1: Introduction
  • Part 2: A Social Media Policy for Clinicians
  • Part 3: Ethical Standards for the Internet and Social Media
  • Part 4: Editor's Note
  • Part 5: Audio Version of Interviews
  • CE Test
  • Course Evaluation

Subject Matter Experts:

Keely Kolmes, PsyD, is a licensed psychologist in San Francisco, CA. She is now in private practice following six years as a staff psychologist at Counseling and Psychological Services at Vaden Health Center at Stanford University. She writes, does research, and provides consultation and training on clinical and ethical issues related to social networking and technology. Her private practice Social Media Policy has been frequently cited and is recommended for clinicians by the APA Insurance Trust.  Dr. Kolmes’ Social Media Policy is found at

Dr. Kolmes contributes to several professional newsletters and blogs. She also serves as a mentor for Division 42's Mentorshoppe. Her professional website is where she keeps her blog, Mindful Musings at  She can also be found on Twitter as @drkkolmes.

Frederic G. Reamer, PhD, is a professor in the graduate program of the School of Social Work, Rhode Island College, where he has been on the faculty since 1983. Dr. Reamer has conducted extensive research on professional ethics and has been involved in several national research projects sponsored by the Hastings Center, The Carnegie Corporation, and the Haas Foundation. He has lectured extensively nationally and internationally on the subject of professional ethics and professional malpractice and liability. He chaired the national task force that drafted the Code of Ethics adopted by the National Association of Social Workers in 1996. He is the author or editor of many books and articles on ethics, including Social Work Values and Ethics and AIDS and Ethics, and he has authored chapters on professional ethics in the Encyclopedia of Bioethics and the Encyclopedia of Applied Ethics.

In addition, he has been an essayist on National Public Radio's Morning Edition ("This I Believe" series) and a commentator on National Public Radio's All Things Considered. In 2007 Dr. Reamer was appointed producer of the National Public Radio weekly series, This I Believe—Rhode Island, sponsored by NPR and radio station WRNI.


Barbara Alexander, LCSW, BCD, is a graduate of the Smith College School for Social Work and the Child and Adolescent Psychotherapy Program of the Chicago Institute for Psychoanalysis. After working for 13 years in child psychiatric settings and 30 years in private practice, she is now founder and president of On Good Authority, and an expert interviewer.

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The above CE sponsorships are honored by many additional state boards of social work, marriage and family therapy, and licensed professional counseling. Some restrictions may apply. Check with your state board or certifying organization to find out if online courses or home study are accepted as part of your continuing education requirement for license renewal or re-certification, or call At Health at 888-284-3258 for information regarding CE approvals.

Page last modified on July 27, 2016

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Type: Text and Audio    Credits: 2 CE    Price: $33   Refund Policy
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