Today, many individuals enjoy and prefer electronic communication methods (e.g. e-mail, Facebook, Twitter, etc.), whether the relationship is social or professional. However, there are risks to the use of electronic communication, particularly with respect to ensuring client privacy and confidentiality.
As providers of counseling and therapy, The ECC is obliged to be aware of possible risks to our clients as a result of our professional relationship. Privacy and Confidentiality are both extremely important to the professional relationship our clients have with The ECC.
Electronic communication that is not approved can be accessed both purposefully (e.g. hacking) or by accident (e.g. leaving email open and possibly visible to others , saving messages on a computer or portable device that is later discarded, or not using passwords). Electronic communication can put your privacy and confidentiality at risk and the use of electronic communication between a professional and a client can also be inconsistent with the standards of regulated professions and/or with the law.
This policy regarding Electronic Communication has been prepared to assure the security and confidentiality of client personal information and to assure that our practices are consistent with the law and professional ethics.
Email Communication with Clients
The ECC staff does ask for client contact information for the purpose of establishing and maintaining contact as needed. We ask clients for contact information such as telephone number (landline or cell) and, if available, an email address.)
Almost all of our direct professional work with clients is accomplished through face to face meetings. The ECC staff is not permitted to use email as a form of communication with clients because email is not secure. The telephone or face-to-face method is a much more secure method of communicating and maintaining privacy and confidentiality. If a client needs to discuss a personal or private matter with their Service Provider outside of a scheduled appointment, this can be addressed over the phone or at a regular appointment or another appointment can be arranged.
With informed consent and permission, The ECC staff will use email communication with clients for the following purposes:
Appointments: The ECC staff is permitted to communicate via email with clients for the purpose of setting and changing appointments or other similar issues. Please be advised that the service provider will maintain email exchanges in the client record.
Notification of events or services: The ECC will provide you with information about available services or events at The ECC. We will only use your email or contact information for this purpose with your informed consent. You may choose to decline at any time and this will not affect your service.
Client Satisfaction, Experience and Evaluation: From time to time, The ECC conducts client satisfaction and experience surveys. We also evaluate our services to know how effective they are and how we can improve. We will use your email or contact information for this purpose with your informed consent. You may choose to decline at any time and this will not affect your service.
Email with Third Parties or other Service Providers:
The ECC staff, with informed consent, may communicate with third parties or service providers involved with The ECC clients for the purpose of setting appointments or clarifying specific information. The ECC asks third parties or service providers to not send The ECC client personal information except under exceptional circumstances and with informed consent of the client. Our policies allow clients or the legal designate to have access to the information that is contained within the client’s record. If information is received beyond the scope or intent of our policy, or contains information that is not relevant, then the sender will be informed that we cannot accept the information and The ECC will delete the information. A note in the file will be placed that an email communication was received by a provider and it was denied by The ECC.
Text messaging is not a secure method of communication. The ECC staff is not permitted to text message to nor respond to text messages from anyone involved in service with The ECC.
The ECC believes that online communication with clients has a high potential to compromise the client-professional relationship as well as the client’s confidentiality and privacy.
Social media is not a secure method of communication. The ECC staff is not permitted to communicate with, or contact, any current or past clients through social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook. In addition, if it is discovered that an online relationship has been accidentally established, then we will cancel that relationship.
If the Service Provider has an online presence, there is a possibility that clients may encounter the Service Provider by accident or through connections or links. If this occurs, It is best to discuss the knowledge of this connection or link at the earliest possible time to determine if there may be any problems that may affect the Service Provider –Client relationship.
The ECC staff is expected to terminate any online contact even if accidental and to report this to their supervisor to address any ethical or professional issues or violations.
The purpose of The ECC website is to provide information about The ECC services as well as to provide reliable information about children’s mental health and autism in general. We may provide information about other centers or service providers with their permission. If you have questions or concerns about The ECC website or the information provided on it, please let your Service Provider know or provide feedback through the feedback link on our website.
We will not use web searches to gather information about our clients without permission. We believe that this violates clients’ privacy rights. However, we understand that clients might choose to gather information about us.
We know that there is an incredible amount of information available on the internet about individuals and organizations. While some of the information may be accurate, some may be inaccurate or unknown.
If you encounter information about The ECC through web searches or otherwise that concerns you or you feel may impact on your perception or experience of service, please discuss this with your Service Provider.
Feedback to The ECC
We are pleased to receive direct feedback in person, by letter or note, in our suggestion box, or through occasional surveys. The feedback clients or the public provide us will be kept confidential and personal information will not be shared.
Third Party Online Feedback
With advances in website and social media technology, some third party websites offer clients the opportunity to provide online feedback. Unfortunately, mental health professionals cannot respond to public comments and/or related errors because of professional, confidentiality and privacy restrictions.
If you have an experience, positive or negative, we ask that you tell us about this directly and not use social media for this purpose. Our policies and procedures regarding confidentiality and privacy will not allow anyone from The ECC to engage in an online conversation with clients or to respond to comments. Additionally, third party online comments do not offer the opportunity to understand and correct the issue or improve.
If a client or interested person encounters a negative review of anyone associated with The ECC and/or with whom they are working at The ECC, please contact the Service Provider or a member of the Management team or send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you have any questions or concerns about our practices in this area, please do not hesitate to contact us (email@example.com) or contact the Executive Director at (416) 240-1111 ext 2224.