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Terms and Policy

Professional Disclosure Statement
Welcome!
As you may already know, therapy can be an intense, informative and life changing experience. I hope the following information will help prepare you for the journey ahead by clarifying some details about the counseling process, the boundaries of our working relationship and my personal style in therapy.

My Credentials & Approach
I earned a Master of Social Work (MSW) degree from Virginia Commonwealth University in 1995. I am currently licensed in Virginia through the Virginia Board of Health Professions as a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW). My education in social work helped shape how I view and work with the whole person utilizing a biopsychosocial-spiritual approach.

I believe we are all connected and find meaning and a greater understanding of who we are through one another. Therefore, I feel honored and grateful when someone invites me to join them for a portion of their life journey. I view the therapeutic relationship as an equal partnership with you as the expert on your life and the one who determines where we are going on the journey. I can offer my knowledge and experience to identify the possible paths we might take, the skills or tools that are needed along the way and how to make the trip safely and successfully.

The Therapeutic Relationship
I believe the purpose of therapy is for you to more deeply discover who you are, what you want, and how to get it. During therapy, I will do my best to honor your personal experiences and perspective. I hope to provide you with honest feedback, and to offer suggestions based on my clinical training and life experiences. I expect your active participation and collaboration as we develop our therapeutic relationship and work to meet your chosen goals.

I believe that most people are amazingly resilient and have the capacity to resolve their own problems, sometimes with a little assistance or a reminder of their strengths. I believe that we are all doing the best we can in life, yet also have the capacity to learn to be even more effective. If counseling is successful, you should feel that you are able to face life's future challenges without my support or intervention. Some clients need only a few counseling sessions to achieve their goals, while others may require more long-term counseling.

A diagnosis will likely be developed as we work together. While sometimes helpful, you should also understand that a diagnosis is just a description of behavior and can vary frequently between situations and even among professionals. Diagnoses should not be construed as evidence of some defect or chemical imbalance.

Some clients develop strong feelings about their therapist. Please do not offer gifts or ask me to relate to you in any other manner than the professional context of our counseling sessions. You will be best served if our relationship remains strictly professional and if our sessions concentrate exclusively on your concerns.

How to Contact Me
Clients may contact me by phone or email, but I cannot accept texts. Please understand that I am seldom able to answer my phone as I am in sessions. I will return calls as promptly as I can, usually within 24 hours. If you have an urgent need, please indicate this in your voicemail message and I will do my best to respond.

I prefer using email only to arrange or modify appointments. Please do not email me content related to your therapy sessions, as email is not completely secure or confidential. You should know that any emails I receive from you and any responses that I send to you become a part of your legal record.

Emergencies
If you experience a mental health crisis and I am not immediately available, please call 911 or go to the nearest hospital Emergency Department.

Records & Confidentiality
All of our communication (e.g., progress notes, diagnosis, emails, phone calls) becomes part of your clinical record, which is accessible to you upon written request (unless doing so would be psychologically harmful). I will keep confidential anything that you say to me, with the following exceptions:

- You sign a release of information and direct me to share specific information with someone else.
- I determine that you are a danger to yourself or others.
- I am ordered by a court to disclose information.
- I suspect that there is child and/or elder abuse.
- If I am working collaboratively with other professionals where disclosure of personal information is necessary to provide optimal care.
- You are a minor for whom confidentiality is limited to the extent exercised by your parent/legal guardian.

Please note that in order to protect your confidentiality, I will treat you anonymously in public unless you initiate public interaction.

Risks of Therapy
You should know there are potential risks to psychotherapy. The first and most important one is that people often feel worse at the beginning of therapy. Therapy can complicate your life. After all, you may discover that you have feelings about people that you never realized you had. You may want or need things you have overlooked and may not have access to them yet. You may be asked to look at things about yourself that you may not like. You may have had experiences in the past that must be reconciled, which can be difficult and challenging, but ultimately quite rewarding and healing.

Despite my best attempts, there are no absolute guarantees that you, specifically, will find my services helpful. However, research seems to indicate that those in psychotherapy are better off than 80% of those who do not seek treatment.

Scheduling Appointments, Cancellations & Payment
Appointments may be scheduled by phone, email or directly through the Client Login on my website. For maximum availability, plan on scheduling your appointment at least one week in advance.

If you need to cancel or reschedule an appointment, please tell me as soon as possible so that I can adjust my schedule. If you are unable to keep an appointment, please call at least 24 hours in advance. However, a last minute phone call is preferable to simply not showing up.

Payment is expected at the time of service. I accept cash, check and credit cards. Payments through PayPal are also accepted.

50-minute therapy session (office/phone/video): $110
110 minute session for more intensive, focused work: $220

If you do not show for your appointment and have not notified me at least 24 hours in advance, you will be required to pay the full fee for the session.

Final Thoughts
If at any time, and for any reason, you feel we may not be a good therapeutic "match," I encourage your feedback and will make every attempt to adjust my approach. If we are not able to come to an agreement about therapy, I will be more than happy to assist you in finding another counselor.

Acceptance of Terms
I agree to these terms and will follow these guidelines.
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Technology and Social Media Policy
This document outlines my professional policies related to use of Social Media. I invite you to read it to understand how I conduct myself on the Internet as a mental health professional and how you can expect me to respond to various interactions that may occur between us on the Internet. If you have any questions about anything within this document, I encourage you to bring them up when we meet. As new technology develops and the Internet changes, there may be times when I need to update this policy. If I do so, I will notify you in writing of any policy changes and make sure you have a copy of the updated policy.

Friending
I do not accept friend or contact requests from current or former clients on any social networking site (Facebook, LinkedIn, etc). I believe that adding clients as friends or contacts on these sites can compromise your confidentiality and our respective privacy. It may also blur the boundaries of our therapeutic relationship. If you have questions about this, please bring them up when we meet and we can talk more about it.

Fanning
I keep a Facebook Page for my professional practice to allow people to share my blog posts, practice updates and news about The Daring WayTM with other Facebook users. All of the information shared on this page is available on my website.

You are welcome to view my Facebook Page and read or share articles posted there, but I do not accept clients as Fans of this Page. I believe having clients as Facebook Fans creates a greater likelihood of compromised client confidentiality and I feel it is best to be explicit to all who may view my list of Fans to know that they will not find client names on that list. In addition, the National Association of Social Workers' Code of Ethic prohibits my soliciting testimonials from clients. I feel that the term "Fan" comes too close to an implied request for a public endorsement of my practice. Note that you should be able to subscribe to the page via RSS without becoming a Fan and without creating a visible, public link to my Page. You are more than welcome to do this and can find instructions at the Facebook Help Center.

Following
I publish a blog on my website and news related to The Daring WayTM. I have no expectation that you as a client will want to follow my blog. However, if you use an easily recognizable name and I happen to notice that you have followed me, we may briefly discuss it and its potential impact on our working relationship.

My primary concern is your privacy. You are welcome to use your own discretion in choosing whether to follow me.

Note that I will not follow you back. I only follow other health professionals and I do not follow current or former clients' blogs. My reasoning is that I believe casual viewing of clients' online content outside of the therapy hour can create confusion in regard to whether it's being done as a part of your treatment or to satisfy my personal curiosity. In addition, viewing your online activities without your consent and without our explicit arrangement towards a specific purpose could potentially have a negative influence on our working relationship. If there are things from your online life that you wish to share with me, please bring them into our sessions where we can view and explore them together, during the therapy hour.


Interacting
Please do not use SMS (mobile phone text messaging) or messaging on Social Networking sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Skype, etc. to contact me. These sites are not secure and I may not read these messages in a timely fashion. Do not use Wall postings, @replies, or other means of engaging with me in public online if we have an already established client/therapist relationship. Engaging with me this way could compromise your confidentiality. It may also create the possibility that these exchanges become a part of your legal medical record and will need to be documented and archived in your chart.

If you need to contact me between sessions, the best way to do so is to call (540) 820-4396, leaving a voice mail message if necessary. Direct email at ds@deirdrestaton.com is second best for quick, administrative issues such as changing appointment times. See the email section below for more information regarding email interactions.

Use of Search Engines
It is NOT a regular part of my practice to search for clients on Google or Facebook or other
search engines. Extremely rare exceptions may be made during times of crisis. If I have a reason to suspect that you are in danger and you have not been in touch with me via our usual means (coming to appointments, phone, or email) there might be an instance in which using a search engine (to find you, find someone close to you, or to check on your recent status updates) becomes necessary as part of ensuring your welfare. These are unusual situations and if I ever resort to such means, I will fully document it and discuss it with you when we next meet.

Business Review Sites
You may find my private practice on sites such as Yelp, Healthgrades, Yahoo Local, Bing, or other places which list businesses. Some of these sites include forums in which users rate their providers and add reviews. Many of these sites comb search engines for business listings and automatically add listings regardless of whether the business has added itself to the site. If you should find my listing on any of these sites, please know that my listing is NOT a request for a testimonial, rating, or endorsement from you as my client.

"Social workers should not engage in solicitation of testimonial endorsements (including solicitation of consent to use a client's prior statement as a testimonial endorsement) from current clients or from other people who, because of their particular circumstances, are vulnerable to undue influence" (NASW, 2008, Ethical Responsibilities as Professionals section, 4.07(b)).

Of course, you have a right to express yourself on any site you wish. But due to confidentiality, I cannot respond to any review on any of these sites whether it is positive or negative. I urge you to take your own privacy as seriously as I take my commitment of confidentiality to you. You should also be aware that if you are using these sites to communicate indirectly with me about your feelings about our work, there is a good possibility that I may never see it.

If we are working together, I hope that you will bring your feelings and reactions to our work directly into the therapy process. This can be an important part of therapy, even if you decide we are not a good fit. None of this is meant to keep you from sharing that you are in therapy with me wherever and with whomever you like. Confidentiality means that I cannot tell people that you are my client and my Code of Ethics prohibits me from requesting testimonials. But you are more than welcome to tell anyone you wish that I'm your therapist or how you feel about the treatment I provided to you, in any forum of your choosing.

If you do choose to write something on a business review site, I hope you will keep in mind that you may be sharing personally revealing information in a public forum. I urge you to create a pseudonym that is not linked to your regular email address or friend networks for your own privacy and protection. If you feel I have done something harmful or unethical and you do not feel comfortable discussing it with me, you can always contact the Virginia Board of Social Work, which oversees licensing, and they will review the services I have provided.

Virginia Department of Health Professions
Board of Social Work
Perimeter Center
9960 Mayland Drive, Suite 300
Henrico, Virginia 23233-1463
Phone: (804) 367-4400
Web: www.dhp.virginina.gov

Location-Based Services
If you used location-based services (LBS) on your mobile phone, you may wish to be aware of the privacy issues related to using these services. I do not place my practice as a check-in location on various sites such as Foursquare, Gowalla, Loopt, etc. However, if you have GPS tracking enabled on your device, it is possible that others may surmise that you are a therapy client due to regular check-ins at my office. Please be aware of this risk if you are intentionally "checking in" from my office or if you have a passive LBS app enabled on your phone.

Email
I prefer using email only to arrange or modify appointments. Please do not email me content related to your therapy sessions, as email is not completely secure or confidential. If you choose to communicate with me by email, be aware that all emails are retained in the logs of your and my Internet service providers. While it is unlikely that someone will be looking at these logs, they are, in theory, available to be read by the system administrator(s) of the Internet service provider. You should also know that any emails I receive from you and any responses that I send to you become a part of your legal record.

Conclusion
Thank you for taking the time to review my Social Media Policy. If you have any questions or concerns about any of these policies and procedures or regarding our potential interactions on the Internet, do bring them to my attention so that we can discuss them.
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