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H. 4. C. Technology-Assisted Services


When providing technology-assisted services, counsellors make reasonable efforts to deter- mine that clients are intellectually, emotional- ly, physically, linguistically, and functionally capable of using the application and that the application is appropriate for the needs of the client. Counselors verify that clients understand the purpose and operation of technology appli- cations and follow up with clients to correct possible misconceptions, discover appropriate use, and assess subsequent steps.


The American Medical Association has a set of Guidelines for Patient-Physician Electronic Mail. The following is my abbreviated outline of these guidelines:


 Have a patient-clinician informed consent signed re: email use


 Establish turnaround time for messages. Do not use email for urgent matters but for pre- scription refills, appointments and scheduling


 Inform patients about privacy issues. Patients should know:


 Who besides the addressee processes messages:


 


During addressee’s usual busi- ness hours


During addressee’s vacation or illness


 Email messages are part of the patient’s medical record


 Never use patient’s email address in a mar- keting scheme


 Do no share professional email accounts with family members


 Use encryption for all messages when en- cryption technology becomes widely availa- ble, user-friendly, and practical


 Do not use unencrypted wireless communi- cations with patient-identifiable information


 Double check all “To:” fields prior to sending messages


THE CANADIAN COUNSELLING AND PSYCHOTHERAPY ASSOCIATION SUMMER 2019


 Perform at least weekly backups of email onto long-term storage. Define “long-term” as the term applicable to paper records


 Commit policy decisions to writing and elec- tronic form


 Terminate the use of email with patients who repeatedly fail to follow guidelines


Recommendations:


 Counsellors and psychotherapists should dis- cuss with their clients at the beginning of the counselling relationship their position with respect to their use of communication tech- nologies and social media.


 If you do not use Facebook, Twitter, or other forms of social media with clients, inform them that it is not because you are unfriend- ly, but is intended to protect their confidenti- ality and to maintain the boundaries appro- priate for a professional relationship. If you mix professional and personal relationships with clients through social media, you risk having an inappropriate dual relationship, which can cause confusion for clients about the nature of their relationship with you.


 If you do use email communication with cli- ents, it is important to have a written policy with respect to such use and to share it with


10 Counsellors and


psychotherapists should discuss with their clients at the beginning of the counselling relationship


their position with respect to their use of communication technologies and social media.


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