To Blog or Not to Blog

Despite numerous reasons that have kept health care professionals from the social media, health care blogs are becoming increasingly common. With that come concerns over confidentiality, personal safety, and legal involvement. My biggest concern has to do with self-disclosure. Steve Frankel, an expert in law and ethics in mental health, once presented a case in which a clinician was sued because of too much self-disclosure. How much is “too much”? While we can make a conscious effort to keep that to a minimum in 1:1 interaction, it becomes almost impossible when you write in public.

We do not lose our freedom of speech in public, regardless of whether we are a physician or physicist. That doesn’t eliminate the possibility that blogging will affect our relationship with our clients, their loved ones, and coworkers who may have read what we write. Even when confidentiality is not compromised, What they know about our general beliefs or interests can still impact the working relationship. If our client knows that we have a soft spot for the homeless population or that we disagree with certain health care policies, it may affect their expectations on us as a professional, ally, and advocate.

Irvin Yalom has written quite extensively on self-disclosure in the updated edition of “The Gift Of Therapy.” One of the cases he presented was a woman who had read his book and felt that he was writing about her. Yalom’s anecdote ended on a good note. Perhaps the “damage” isn’t something that can’t be undone through open and honest communication. Yet, it’s unclear if we should make others aware of our writing from the beginning or only when it “naturally” creeps up.

This concern has kept me from blogging for a very long time; and continues to fuel my tendency to self-censor. As some health care writers have astutely stated, presentation of cases and personal anecdotes can be a very effective means of driving home a message about policy and practice. Let’s hope that I will be able to strike a better balance as this blog continues to grow.

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About C

If you consider volunteering at a luncheon for older adults as my first exposure to the field, I have been in geropsychology for at least twenty years. As family, friend, volunteer, trainee, and professional, I have found myself in adult day care centers, senior centers, senior living facilities, nursing homes, medical and psychiatric wards, hospice, and personal homes of older adults. Wherever I go, be it an orphanage, a museum, a prison, an airport, or a random corner in the neighborhood, issues related to aging and mental health often come to mind. I used to think that I could make a difference only if I became a top-notch researcher, educator, or clinician. As I continue to follow this meandering path, it dawns on me that as a nobody in the field, I can still add my light to the sum of light by sharing what I know. Over the years, I have "converted" a few very dedicated individuals to focus on aging-related work within their respective disciplines and encouraged a handful more to stay in this field despite its winding course. I believe by bringing aging and mental health issues to the foreground, we will amass a stronger force to promote advocacy, research, and quality care.
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One Response to To Blog or Not to Blog

  1. Doris says:

    I went through the same debate when I started focusing my blog stories on my nursing home residents. I usually blog about residents I had several years ago, most of them already deceased or discharged to home long ago. Plus I change names, genders, and a lot of details to protect privacy, trying to keep the heart of the story intact.

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