Twitter: Open Discussion

Suppose your therapist is on twitter and the account is public and the knowledge that the patient visits the twitter is openly discussed in sessions as the account is a top google result for the therapist’s name. Neither party has linked their account (following) to the other’s account for obvious boundary reasons. But the therapist is aware the patient reads it from time to time. If said therapist writes a hilarious tweet what are the ethical and boundary issues of the patient retweeting that tweet?

I am of the opinion that it would be a boundaries issue despite the public nature of the tweets and even if the patient did not reveal information about the therapeutic relationship. It would be an uninvited entrance into the therapist’s life outside of a session. So I would not re-tweet said tweet no matter how hilarious it is.

Obviously friending a social media account is off limits but there is a fuzzier area when it come to non-reciprocal friending sites like twitter where relationships may be more one sided. The formality of the communication put out by the therapist is also a factor.

For example it is fully acceptable (I think) for a patient to share on social media about a book their therapist has written or an journal article if those works have been influential to a patients healing process. Though things could get messy if it the author is identified as that blogger’s therapist. I’d personally never do so in a way that indicated that said individual was my therapist, but sharing a professional publication on a patients social media seems fare game if context were appropriate. I suppose for me the issue that comes into play is the inherent informality of twitter. No matter how professional a twitter page is, it is still something more conversational and more personal. And for this reason I feel a retweet would be overstepping a line.

Discuss. What are your thoughts?



From my search stats it looks like someone is trying to get into my locked posts. I locked a few posts on here for assorted reasons related to protecting my privacy. If you want access to one of the locked posts, comment and depending on your motivations I might give you access.

3 thoughts on “Twitter: Open Discussion

  1. Hello! I’ve followed your blog for a long time but haven’t commented in a long, long time. I just wanted to let you know that I’ve nominated you for the One Lovely Blog award. You’re welcome to do whatever you like with it – I just wanted to let you know how much I appreciate your blog. You can check it out on the latest post on my blog.

    And in response to your post…I think it is more of the therapist’s responsibility to keep the boundary. It shouldn’t be up to the patient to maintain the therapist’s boundaries. If the therapist doesn’t want the patient to re-tweet anything, then that should be the therapist’s responsibility to keep that from happening. That’s just my opinion. That being said, I’d never re-tweet anything!

  2. Interesting. I agree with Kashley, I think it’s more up to the therapist to keep the boundary. I’m interested about the tweeting/following being discussed openly in session but the therapist still not changing his settings to a locked setting. I would also imagine that most patients would think twice before retweeting a tweet by someone recognizable as a therapist in order to protect his or her own privacy (assuming the patient is not also involved in the field, I could see how that would make it more complicated).

  3. Just in reference to your comment about people trying to enter passwords, I tried a couple of times thinking it was referring to a google password. I’ve read through your blog for the first time tonight and subscribed because it was so darn reassuring and would love to read the blocked ones if allowed. :-)


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