Kenneth P. Drude, Ph.D.
The Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards (ASPPB), the national organization for psychology regulatory/licensing boards in Canada and the USA, developed and recently adopted social media guidelines that it recommends member boards use in regulating social media uses. The purposes of the guidelines are to 1) define what is considered social media and to provide guidance to psychology regulatory boards in both countries in to identify and communicate what are considered appropriate and inappropriate uses of social media and to promote consistency and clarity about this across jurisdictions and 2) give guidance to individual psychologists about how to apply ethical standards to the uses of the many different forms of social media.
The development of the guidelines included reviewing the professional literature for health professions, relevant guidelines, standards, current laws, and regulations. Included are guidelines about confidentiality, informed consent, risk management, competence, multiple relationships, professional conduct, security of information, personal use of social media, and regulatory board uses of social media. Vignettes for each of the major categories of guidelines are provided as examples of how the guidelines can be applied. Since the guidelines are aspirational rather than new mandatory standards, they allow for some latitude in how they can be applied in a wide range of circumstances. Given the increasing interjurisdictional nature of psychological practice and mobility of psychologists across jurisdictions during their careers, the use of a common set of social media guidelines by psychology licensing boards for judging social media uses will benefit both psychologists and regulatory boards.
The guidelines, “Guidelines for the Use of Social Media by Psychologists in Practice and by Psychology Regulatory Boards”, are posted on the ASPPB website at https://www.asppb.net/page/SMGuidelines In addition to the guidelines document, a 64 page White Paper that incudes background information obtained In developing the guidelines is also posted at the same location. An article titled “The Development of Social Media Guidelines for Psychologists and for Regulatory Use”, coauthored by Kenneth Drude and Karen Messer-Engel , describing the guidelines and the process used in creating them was recently published online by the Journal for Technology in Behavioral Science. It is accessible at https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s41347-020-00176-1