Creative Leadership

The Risks of Online Mentoring and Counseling

Between the ranks of executive mentors, pastors and religious leaders, coaches, counselors, therapists, and more, everyday, there are hundreds of thousands of people who counsel, mentor, train, advise, and encourage others online.  But before you connect the next time, remember that once you hit the “send” button on that email, you’ve lost control of the message.

We also know that email vendors like Google are keeping those messages intact potentially forever.  Plus, the courts recently ruled that even text messages aren’t private.  All of that means that whatever online advice you give someone today, could come back to haunt you tomorrow.

This is more of a legal issue, and I always recommend you get good advice from a reputable attorney.  But suffice it to say – every time you send an email, text message, or other online missive, it’s a written, digital record that doesn’t go away – and one in which you don’t have control.

Should your patient, protege, student, trainee, or lay person either act on your advice in an inappropriate way, or use the message against you, it really opens you up to a potential lawsuit.

If you deal with counseling, mentoring, counseling, or similar work online, I would strongly encourage you to think through the ramifications.

Never forget that there’s a dark side to the digital world.

If you had an experience like this, please share it with us…

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