For California therapists promoting their practices on Twitter, there isn’t enough room to include legally-required disclosures on every tweet. Here’s what to do.
Twitter is a web site that allows for “micro-blogging,” or posting of messages that are 140 characters or less. Because of Twitter’s open and social nature, it can be a good platform for sharing news about your practice. However, as you can imagine, 140 characters is often not enough room to include both your legally-required disclosures and whatever meaningful content you had hoped to include in a post on the site (otherwise known as a “tweet”).
If you are an LMFT, LPCC, or LCSW in California (other state laws vary), you can advertise your practice on Twitter, you just need to use caution in doing so. The California Board of Behavioral Sciences reported in a committee meeting that they had consulted with legal counsel on therapists’ use of Twitter [page 6 of linked PDF]. If the BBS were to receive a complaint about such advertising, they said they would consider advertising “as a whole.” In other words, if your tweet only links to your web site, they would consider the tweet and the site together. As long as a potential client must have seen your legally-mandated disclosures in at least one of those places, you should be safe.
Another way to think of it is, do NOT include any direct contact information – like your phone number, email address, or office location – in a tweet or on your Twitter profile. If you do that, a potential client could come to you just from the tweet, never having seen your required disclosures. Instead, make sure your Twitter profile and individual tweets ONLY include a link to a web site or other resource where you do meet all of California’s advertising standards.
Standard caveat applies here: I’m not a lawyer, so if you are in need of legal advice, this isn’t that. Talk with someone who has actually, like, gone to law school. I’m giving my best clinician’s understanding of both the law and what the BBS has said about it.