Psychologists, psychiatrists, therapists and other mental health professionals may be used to helping others, but when it comes to online reputation management, they often need a little help, too. If you work with patients who show signs of manipulation, anger, or issues controlling their emotions, you need to worry about the patient (or former patient) spreading negative or untrue things about you online. You also need to be especially protective over your online personal privacy to ensure your patients don’t find out your home address or details about your family life.
Protecting yourself and your practice is a priority for every psychologist and mental health professional. So take a seat on my couch, take a deep cleansing breath and get ready for some tips on reputation management and privacy.
1. Ensure your online personal life is locked up: Some psychologists shy away from using social media, like Facebook and Twitter, for fear that their patients will access their personal data. But don’t let that fear keep you from connecting with family and friends. See my recent post on how to how to change your Facebook privacy settings. Implement a policy on “friending” patients, so that in the event that a patient asks you why you’re declining their friend request, you have a ready-made answer that will not breach that “third wall” critical to the doctor-patient relationship.
2. Monitor your name online: Just as your patients take time to meet with you each week, block off some time in your calendar to Google yourself. This way you’ll find out which of your patients is using sites like HealthGrades.com or RateMDs.com, which allow patients to write a review of your services.
3. Buy your own domain name and blog: Capture your domain before someone else does. There are a number of free downloads such as WordPress or Blogger that you can use to help you build your own website, without having any serious computer knowledge. Create your website to showcase your practice areas and education. It’s another way to gain new patients and referrals. Also, consider starting a blog on your website. You can choose to write about your practice area, new research (by yourself or colleagues), and new therapy techniques. If you’re ever stuck for content, you can write a series of “quick tips” for patients regarding stress reduction, what to do when dealing with a crisis, or how to deal with a break-up. These topics will help generate traffic to your site, and ultimately may lead to new patients boost your online reputation.
4. Hire the best online reputation management firm: An online reputation management company will elevate positive content and minimize the impact of any negative reviews, blogs or news articles. Select a U.S.-based online reputation management firm and make sure your services agreement includes strict confidentiality provisions. Since ethics surrounding psychologist marketing and advertising vary from state to state, you will want to make sure any web postings include any required disclosures.