Questioning Social Media Boundaries for Therapists | Reader Q and A

   A reader writes . . . IMG_0607

My questions are about boundary issues with Facebook, LinkedIn and blogs. As a therapist, I want to be current with social media, yet I am aware of the need for appropriate boundaries with my clients. Currently, my Facebook contains only professional information and a few events. I’m very selective in accepting friend requests. To maintain boundaries and privacy, my Facebook wall is not enabled. Am I defeating the benefit of what Facebook could provide by having this mindset? If so, what suggestions would you have about changes I can make? I have not started a blog for the same reasons as above and I have not signed up for LinkedIn. Would LinkedIn be a better avenue for promoting my businesses as a therapist and speaker than Facebook? 

Answer . . .

I can understand why you want to set boundaries as a family therapist. You don’t want to be as hard to get to as the gold shown here from an image taken half a mile below the ground in an iron mine, but you don’t want to be as friendly and accessible as this playful dog, either.

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You're not alone. Most professional speakers [all professionals – everyone?] want to look like they're well connected, that’s why they don't want any weird parts of their past/present poking out of their social media profiles.

This may even extend to relationships that might be considered the most natural and logical: for example, parent and child. Why wouldn’t a mother want to accept her child’s relationship claim on Facebook?

LinkedIn

LinkedIn is the most starchy, buttoned up promotional platform. You can feel safer here and work towards becoming recognized in groups and communities within the LinkedIn walls.

Blogs

Writing a blog is your best bet, in terms of SEO, positioning yourself as an authority and having a platform that you command. Yes, people can comment, but you can set the blog to review all comments before being posted.

Another huge plus for a blog is that you're automatically positioned as a publisher and an author who serves as a community’s information conduit.

You can talk about philosophy, discuss new treatments, site reference books, stomp myths, review books, etc. One of the best family therapists/teachers/speakers I know, is also a friend who tells stories that she says are all true, but the details are mixed up. Although she doesn’t have one, I would love to read her blog because she's such a great conversation host. Maybe you're the same way.

No matter what business you’re in, taking cues from leaders can help you see what works for them. What books do you recommend your patients read? Google the authors and see where and how they show up online. Even if you don’t have your own blog, you can comment on theirs.

Facebook

So many people asked me what they should do about being friends on Facebook that I wrote an article: Facebook PR strategy guide: who to be friends with.

Facebook may be the most difficult to manage. While twitter is accessible by anyone [unless you protect your updates], communication is clipped, concise and frequent - and there are no images. Well, if you have Power Twitter, images do show up, but there aren't any albums.

Personally, I find Facebook the most emotional of the three. No matter who you and where you've been, people who've known you along the way will find you. Will you accept their friend request? What will you [or they?] say if you don't?

One person says, "I didn't talk to those people in high school. Why should I now?" Another says: "I'm friends with everybody - bring it on!" While still another declares, "There is NO way I'm EVER going on Facebook or twitter!!!!!!"

Don't think your Facebook friends won't watch out for you, though. Thanks to a friend I met while working out and a sorority sister [who both contacted immediately after I posted a speaking engagement], I have some promising new prospects all thanks to sharing a link on Facebook.

Promoting your speaking services is an entirely different matter.

You're entertaining or informing audiences, not entering into a confidential dialogue with patients seeking your help. So, as a speaker you may participate on all social media platforms by positioning yourself as a person who fits into people's lives because you have what they are looking for. I don't know what - exactly - that is, but I'm guessing you do.

Hope this helps and feel free to ask me to be a friend on Facebook, a connection on LinkedIn or a follower on twitter - just mention this blog or this article. I love being closer to my readers.

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