Positive Thinking Clinic





  1. ACA
  2. AHA
  3. PTC

1. ACA



Whether an online activity can be viewed by the public or is limited to a specific group of people, Registered Counsellors need to be aware of their responsibilities to professional standards and the implications of their actions in all professional circumstances. Registered Counsellors are advised of the longevity of a digital footprint and how easily information circulated on social media may end up in the public domain and remain there indefinitely – potentially bringing the profession of counselling and your colleagues into disrepute.


The objective of the Australian Counselling Association in making these guidelines public is to protect the confidentiality of counselling clients and the professional reputation of Registered Counsellors in an increasingly digital world.

This policy explains how all ACA members may interact with social media within the supporting policies of the Scope of Practice for Registered Counsellors, the Code of Ethics and Practice and Guidelines for Online Counselling and Psychotherapy.


‘Social Media’ describes the use of online media and communication tools that people use for sharing opinions, information, experiences, images and audio clips; this includes websites and applications. For the purposes of illustration (not exhaustive), common sources of social media include Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram and blogging platforms such as WordPress and Google+.


All ACA members of all levels, whether student or professional, should be aware of this policy.


The scope of this policy refers to Registered Counsellors’ behaviour in a professional context. I.e., that which occurs on professional social media channels, that identify individuals as professional or student counsellors. That said, however, ACA reserves the right to take egregious personal behaviour into consideration should a complaint be made.

The peak body for counsellors and psychotherapists in Australia.


In using social media, Registered Counsellors need to be aware of their professional obligations under the Scope of Practice for Registered Counsellors, the Code of Ethics and Practice and Guidelines for Online Counselling and Psychotherapy.

The Code of Ethics and Practice

Registered Counsellors will fully explain the provisions of their confidentiality policy and protect the confidentiality of clients in a digital environment, by not identifying clients without their consent.

Registered counsellors will be fully transparent in the advertising of their service offerings, not misrepresenting their qualifications or experience.

Registered Counsellors do not bring the profession of counselling or the reputation of their peers into disrepute.

Registered Counsellors do not behave in a manner which may undermine public confidence or the resolution of professional issues.

Registered Counsellors affirm the individuality of each client; they are culturally sensitive and respectful of all worldviews.

The Scope of Practice for Registered Counsellors

A Registered Counsellor must abide by the professional ethical standards as set out in the Code of Ethics and Practice.

Registered Counsellors will provide consistent information about counselling competencies defined under this Scope

Registered Counsellors can adhere to their code of practice while maintaining professional relationships with other professionals within a program/service.

The peak body for counsellors and psychotherapists in Australia.

 Guidelines for Online Counselling and Psychotherapy

Practitioners should ensure that all information on their own site(s) is accurate, is not misleading and is up to date.

Issues relating to confidentially in face-to-face consultations also apply to online provision (e.g. disclosure of information, as in high-risk situations, use of case material in supervision, research, etc.) However, practitioners should be fully aware of the additional issues relating to confidentiality when working online.


As the peak registration body for student and professional Registered Counsellors in Australia, the ACA is committed to upholding professional industry standards for clients’ and counsellors’ protection. Should a complaint be made regarding a member’s online behaviour, the ACA will review such behaviour against key member documentation such as the Scope of Practice for Registered Counsellors, the Code of Ethics and Practice and Guidelines for Online Counselling and Psychotherapy. The ACA reserves the right to not only review behaviour on professional social media channels but may also consider behaviour on personal social media channels if found to be relevant.


2. AHA

SOURCE: Australian Hypnotherapists Association Social Media Policy and Guidelines for Members 2015

1. About this policy

These guidelines outline the responsible and ethical use of social media and have been developed by the National Committee to help practitioners understand their obligations when using social media, and take into account the National Law as in force in every state and territory.

2. Summary

When using social media, health practitioners should remember that the National Law, the Australian Hypnotherapists Association [AHA] code of ethics and professional conduct (the Code of Ethics) and the Advertising Guidelines AHA Members 19-9-2012 V.1.01 (the Advertising guidelines) apply.

Registered health practitioners should only post information on any social media platform that is not in breach of these obligations by:

• complying with professional obligations

• complying with confidentiality and privacy obligations (such as by not discussing

clients or posting pictures of procedures, case studies, clients, or sensitive material which may enable patients to be identified without having obtained consent in appropriate situations)

• presenting information in an unbiased, evidence-based context, and

• not making unsubstantiated claims

• members can refer to their AHA membership but cannot claim to represent the Association or the Association’s views in any way.

Additional information may be available from professional bodies and/or government bodies, which aims to support health practitioners’ use of social media. However, the legal, ethical, and professional obligations that AHA members must adhere to are set out in the Association’s respective Code of Ethics and the Advertising Guidelines.

3. Introduction

The use of social media is expanding rapidly. Individuals and organisations are embracing user-generated content, such as social networking, personal websites, discussion forums and message boards, and blogs. These include FaceBook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube and many more.

Whether an online activity is able to be viewed by the public or is limited to a specific group of people such as a discussion group, AHA Members need to maintain professional standards and be aware of the implications of their actions, as in all professional circumstances. Members need to be aware that information circulated on social media may end up in the public domain, and remain there indefinitely, irrespective of the intent at the time of posting.

4. Context

A key objective of the AHA and its National Executive is to protect both the public and its membership, and the National Law as well as the Associations’ Code of Ethics and the Advertising Guidelines are relevant when considering social media. This policy explains how the National Law and the following existing codes and guidelines relate to social media including:

• section 133 of the National Law, which establishes obligations about advertising by registered health practitioners, and the Advertising guidelines, and

• the Association Code of Ethics and the Advertising Guidelines

Members should be aware of their ethical and regulatory responsibilities when they are interacting online, just as when they interact in person. This policy provides guidance to members on understanding their responsibilities and obligations when using and communicating on social media.

5. Who needs to use this policy?

All AHA members including student members should be aware of the implications of using social media in any sort of professional capacity.

Under federal law, the Trade Practices Act 1974 (Cwlth) permits advertising unless it is misleading or deceptive or likely to mislead or deceive.

 6. Definition of Social Media

‘Social media’ describes the online and mobile tools that people use to share opinions, information, experiences, images, and video or audio clips and includes websites and applications used for social networking. Common sources of social media include, but are not limited to, social networking sites such as Facebook and LinkedIn, blogs (personal, professional and those published anonymously), WOMO, True Local and microblogs such as Twitter, content-sharing websites such as YouTube and Instagram, and discussion forums and message boards.

7. Obligations in relation to social media

In using social media, just as with all aspects of professional behaviour, members should be aware of their obligations under the National Law, the Association Code of Ethics and the Advertising Guidelines s and other relevant legislation, such as privacy legislation.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) takes action against persons who make false or misleading claims about products or services, and profit from the desire of vulnerable people to change their appearance or improve their wellbeing.

Members should become familiar with the Trade Practices Act 1974 (Cwlth).

Members are also referred to the publication Fair treatment: Guide to the Trade Practices Act for the advertising or promotion of medical and health services (Commonwealth of Australia, July 2000). This publication can be accessed on the ACCC’s website at http://www.accc.gov.au.

7.1 Professional obligations

This policy and guideline document together with the Code of Ethics and Guidelines for Advertising and Business contains guidance about the required standards of professional behaviour, which apply to members whether they are interacting in person or online. The Document also articulates standards of professional conduct in relation to privacy and confidentiality of patient information, including when using social media. For example, posting unauthorised photographs of clients in any medium is a breach of the client’s privacy and confidentiality, including on a personal Facebook site or group even if the privacy settings are set at the highest setting (such as for a closed, ‘invisible’ group).

7.2 Obligations in terms of advertising

In addition to becoming familiar with relevant Commonwealth trade practices legislation, members should also become familiar with the provisions of relevant State and Territory fair trading legislation that apply to unincorporated persons. The relevant Acts are:

• Fair Trading Act 1992 (ACT)

• Trading Act 1987 (NSW)

• Consumer Affairs and Fair Trading Act (NT)

• Fair Trading Act 1989 (Qld)

• Fair Trading Act 1987 (SA)

• Fair Trading Act 1990 (Tas)

• Fair Trading Act 1999 (Vic)

• Fair Trading Act 1987 (WA)

The sections most relevant to advertising are those that address:

• unconscionable conduct

• misleading or deceptive conduct and false representations

These provisions mirror those contained in the Trade Practices Act 1974 (Cwlth). The fair trading legislation refers to the substantiation of claims, unconscionable conduct, and misleading and deceptive conduct, including false representation in relation to goods and services. The relevant consumer affairs departments publish brochures with information regarding the advertising of services and penalties for breaches of the fair trading legislation.

8. Professional obligations

Members should always consider their professional ethical obligations and their legal obligations when advertising services. Members who advertise services should always be aware that consumers of hypnotherapy services may not be in a position to judge the merits of advertised services and products, and that they are more likely to hold a hypnotherapist, as a health provider, in some esteem, making them more vulnerable to believing the advertising claims.

Members should not advertise in a manner that could be considered as attempting to profit from or take advantage of limited consumer understanding of any professional services.

8.1 Ensuring competence

When advertising their services, a member must ensure that he or she is competent by reason of his or her education, training and/or experience to provide the service advertised, or to act in the manner or professional capacity advertised.

 8.2 Professional qualifications

Members must state clearly their professional qualifications. Credentials and a member’s expertise in a particular field should be clear to the public. A member who does not hold specialist qualifications recognised by the association or the government, or an endorsement recognised by the association or the government, must not claim or hold himself or herself out to be a specialist, either explicitly or by implication, or attempt to convey that perception to the public. See Section 9, ‘Advertising of qualifications and titles’.

8.3 Substantiation of claims

Members must be certain that they can substantiate any claims made in advertising material, particularly in relation to outcomes of treatment, whether implied or explicitly stated.

8.4 Authorising the content of advertising

Members are responsible for the style and content of all advertising material associated with the provision of their goods and services. Members may not delegate accountability for ensuring the accuracy of advertising and compliance with these guidelines to an administrator, manager, director, media or advertising agency, or other person.

8.5 Informed consent

The main purpose of advertising of hypnotherapy services is to present information that is reasonably needed by consumers to make an informed initial decision about the availability and suitability of the services offered. Any initial decision by a consumer in response to an advertised service does not substitute for gaining informed consent and does not remove the obligation of a member to obtain informed consent before proceeding to provide the service.

9. What is acceptable advertising?

Advertising used to inform the public of the availability of hypnotherapy services may be considered to comply with these guidelines if it is information published in the public interest, and is factual, honest, accurate, clear, verifiable and not misleading. This section is intended to provide examples of the type of advertising of services that the AHA and the National Hypnotherapists Register of Australia (NHRA) consider to be acceptable. These examples are not intended to be exhaustive.

 As such, advertising may contain:

(a) a factual and clear statement of the services and/or products offered

(b) contact details of the office of the practitioner including phone numbers, email address and website addresses if appropriate

(c) a statement of office hours and availability of after hours appointments

(d) non-enhanced photos or drawings of the practitioner and/or the workplace

(e) advice on the availability of wheelchair access to any premises

(f) a statement of any language(s) other than English spoken by the practitioner

(g) a statement about fees charged and any applicable insurance rebates

(h) a statement of the names of schools and training programs from which the practitioner has graduated and has received qualifications

  1. a statement of memberships and accreditation that the practitioner may hold

10. What is unacceptable advertising

This section is intended to provide a clear indication of the type of advertising of services that the AHA and NHRA considers to be unacceptable. Where examples are provided, they are intended to assist members who advertise their services to comply with the advertising provisions of the National and State laws. They are not intended to be exhaustive.

The advertising of services must not:

(a) create or be likely to create unwarranted and unrealistic expectations about the effectiveness of the services advertised

(b) mislead, either directly, or by implication, comparison, contrast or omission

(c) claim that the services provided by a particular health profession are better, as safe as or safer than others

(d) contain language that could cause undue fear or distress

 (e) contain price information that is inexact, or fails to specify any conditions or variables to an advertised price

(f) contain any claim, statement or implication that:

• either expressly, or by omission, that the treatment is infallible, unfailing, magical, miraculous, guaranteed or a certain or sure cure

• a practitioner member has an exclusive or unique skill or remedy

• a practitioner member provides superior services to those provided by other

hypnotherapists, members or health practitioners

• the results of the health hypnotherapy service offered are always effective

(g) be vulgar, sensational, contrary to accepted standards of propriety or likely to bring the hypnotherapy profession into disrepute, for example, because it is sexist advertising.

11. Comparative advertising

It is difficult to include all required information to avoid a false or inaccurate comparison when comparing one health service or product with another. Therefore, comparative advertising is at risk of misleading the public. If members use any form of comparative advertising, members must not:

• make unsubstantiated claims, or

• deride or otherwise criticise the services or products offered by another

practitioner, or

• make sensational statements that cannot be corroborated

  • allow others to do so on their behalf

12. Use of titles in advertising

Members should avoid developing abbreviations of protected titles as these may lead to confusion.

While there is no provision in the National Law that prohibits a practitioner from using titles such as ‘doctor’ or ‘professor’, members who have been awarded a Doctorate degree or PhD and who are not registered medical practitioners should make it clear in their advertising that they do not hold registration as medical practitioners.

 13. Other qualifications and memberships

Advertising qualifications or memberships may be useful in providing the public with information about experience and expertise, but may also be misleading or deceptive if clients can interpret the advertisements readily to imply that the member is more skilled or has greater experience than is the case.

14. Advertising price information

It is generally difficult to provide an accurate price for hypnotherapy services in an advertisement due to the personal nature of such services and the number of variables involved in the treatment of each consumer.

Information in advertising the price of services must be clear and not misleading. If fees and price information are to be advertised, then price information should be exact, with all fees for services clearly identifiable and any conditions to an advertised price or fee disclosed.

Members who advertise services must not use phrases like ‘lowest prices’, or similar words or phrases when advertising fees for services, prices for products or price information, or state an instalment amount without stating the total cost of any service.

15. Use of scientific information in advertising

The Association encourages caution when using scientific information in advertising. When a member chooses to use such information, it should:

• be presented in a manner that is accurate, balanced and not misleading

• use terminology that is understood readily by the audience to whom it is directed

• identify clearly the relevant researchers, sponsors and the academic publication in

which the results appear

• clearly identify the source


 3. PTC

This document outlines my office policies related to use of Social Media.


Please 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. I created this policy from research which includes but is not limited to  ACA guidelines and AHA guidelines, as well as my personal code of conduct and ethics.

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 update this policy. 

Friending/Following/Adding as a Contact 

I maintain an online presence on several social media sites. I use my full name or the name of my clinic.

I do accept any member of the public to follow me and interact with me. I maintain the freedom to accept or deny interactions and requests.

I am the founder of this clinic and 4 early learning centres and so I am well known in the community for a variety of reasons. Many of my contacts and connections are from a broad range of pathways.

Confidential information is not discussed or compromised by my interactions. Should you choose to be on one of my media sites, please be aware of your name and profile being accessed and this is therefore your decision whether you proceed or not.

My social media posts follow a specific and flexible social media model which mostly promotes my services such as packages, workshops and sessions.  I post to educate and abide by professional etiquette in respect to my associations. 

In some rare circumstances, I have had people in my wider circle who previously followed me on social media ask to come in for psychotherapy. If we agree that meeting together, it does not constitute a problematic conflict of interest, I preserve the integrity of our working relationship. 


If you choose to  use SMS (mobile phone text messaging) or messaging on Social Networking sites such as Twitter, Facebook, Slack, Instagram, or LinkedIn to contact me, please note, 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 by phone or email.

Please note I have a practice manager who answers phone calls and makes bookings and sends out client intake forms. She also may contact you to remind you of appointments.  She does not access any personal information and always announces her name and lets you know she is practice manager and NOT the therapist.

If you read something on my blog and you have a reaction to it, please arrange that we talk about it together. 

Use of Search Engines 

It is NOT a regular part of my practice to search for clients on social media or using 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 instances in which using a search engine 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 document it in your chart and I will discuss it with you when we next meet. 

If you do have online activity that you want me to know about, please talk to me about it during our work together, when we are meeting. 

Discovering/Viewing My Online Activity 

I publish a blog on my website and I sometimes post stories to Medium. I have published a book and online course. I also have a Twitter account, a LinkedIn account, face book account and an Instagram account. I am also a member of some social media communities. I have no expectation that clients will want to follow my writings or social media postings. However, if you use an easily recognizable name online and I happen to notice that you’ve followed me, we may briefly discuss it and its potential impact on our working relationship. 

You may also run across my information in other settings. You may see online ads that I post, you may discover that we have friends or contacts in common on social media. You may see me quoted or published in the media or see my published writings or research. You may discover my podcasts or videos on you tube for example. Or you may find that I have online reviews of my psychotherapy practice. 

Whether you find this information accidentally or intentionally, what is most important to me is that you feel safe and comfortable bringing it up if it has an impact on you and your feelings about our work together. I want to make it clear that is very normal for people to be curious about their psychotherapist and some people feel shame or embarrassment about bringing these things up. But I hope to create a relationship in which you are warmly welcomed to bring up anything you learn about me outside of our sessions that has an effect on your comfort in working together. 

My Writings About Psychotherapy 

I occasionally publish stories and academic writing that reference my clinical work as well as my interests. When I do so, I use composite cases. I won’t be writing about your therapy. However, if the issues I am writing about seem like they may hit “close to home” for any of the people in my practice, my approach is to tell you I am writing something that may be linked to topics or issues we have addressed, and this is very common.  I welcome you to discuss anything that creates sensitivity within you. With all my writings, case study examples and the like, I do not reveal any personal details and confidentiality is respected at all times.

Business Review Sites 

You may find my practice on various sites. 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 direct request for a testimonial, rating, or endorsement from you as my client. Should you wish upon your own will, or from my own suggestion to write a review or testimonial, this is conducted out of good will and knowing that your details can be searched. 

In our work, 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. 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, keep in mind that you may be sharing personally revealing information in a public forum. You may, where possible consider creating a pseudonym that is not linked to your regular email address or friend networks for your own privacy and protection, if this is an issue for you.

Location-Based Services 

If you have used location-based services on your mobile phone, you may wish to be aware of the privacy issues related to using these services. 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 on a weekly basis. 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. Also, if you and family members or partners use Find My Phone to track your whereabouts, and they do not know you are in therapy with me, another potential risk of them seeing your location is that they may discover you are in psychotherapy. 


I use email to arrange, confirm or modify appointments. Your client intake form has granted me permission (or not) to use email.  You may also email me progress, and check ins, as long as you are aware of privacy risks, mostly on your side.  You may wish to delete the email after you have sent it.  Please keep in mind that if you email me or communicate with me in any way, I must keep it with your records as it becomes part of my legal obligation for record keeping. For teletherapy, I may also send you handouts. Occasionally, we each may share a link to something we discussed in-session. You should be aware that all exchanged emails become a part of your legal record and I keep a copy in your file. If you choose to email me content related to your therapy sessions, note that email is not completely secure or confidential. 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. I typically reply to emails within one day. 


I do accept and receive text with clients. My business phone is a mobile device and any texts sent to this phone will not be received by me. They are received by my practice manager.  It should only be used for notifications that you may be running late.  For therapy related correspondence please just use email.  This is clarified, discussed and made clear upon initial inquiry and on the client intake form which you sign that you have read and agreed to. 

Payment Systems 

I accept payment via PayPal, Square, direct EFT, and cash. Please be aware of how your purchase can be recorded and therefore viewed by another person, eg. In Paypal transaction records, and bank statements. Should you choose to pay via Square (credit card) you will incur a transaction fee of 1.9% if your card is present, or 2.2% if your card is not present. Thus to avoid such extra costs you may do a direct EFT (in which you will need to provide proof of payment if done on the day and not before) or paying by cash. 

File Deletion and Destroying Data 

All records are maintained for seven years after your last contact with me. After that point, all paper records are destroyed e.g. shredded and all electronic files are deleted. If you were under 18 years old when you met with me, the seven year countdown begins once you turn 18 years of age and at that point, files will be deleted after seven years. 

Teletherapy and Online Video Therapy  

I do offer teletherapy and online video therapy, and my client intake form shows in detail all procedures in place which you agree to upon signing. 


Thank you for taking the time to review POSITIVE THINKING CLINIC SOCIAL MEDIA POLICY. If you have 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. 

Amanda Dounis

Positive Thinking Clinic

1/7 Magdalene Terrace

Wolli Creek, 2205

0458 850 850



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