Chat with Care

The issue of potential boundary violations surrounding chat rooms is a risk concern because avoiding inappropriate relationships can be more difficult with cyberspace interactions than with face-to-face interactions. The use of pseudonyms may also lead to an inability to recognize patients online. An additional risk is the increased potential for sexual misunderstandings in online communication.

1. Remember that chat room sessions are not private – do not discuss patients, colleagues, hospitals,insurance companies, etc. Everything you type should be considered accessible (readable, printable, and retainable) by the public, not just the intended recipient.

2. Understand that posts will be saved by others and can be printed out for later use, such as in a trial.

3. Do not give specific advice or opinions.

4. Post disclaimers clarifying that the information given is general and educational in nature, not medical advice for any particular individual.

5. Phrase posts carefully and be cognizant of the possibility of misinterpretation.

6. Keep in mind that without video, you really do not know the identity of the person(s) with whom you are chatting.

For more about chat rooms and other internet activities, see Risks Associated with Specific Internet Activities, available to Program participants at http://www.psychprogram.com/tpp.html.

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