Who’s Eavesdropping on Your Sessions?

Who's Eavesdropping on Your Sessions? | Association for Mental Health Professionals

Given all the gadgets in our lives today and our clients' attachment to them, ever wonder who's eavesdropping on your sessions?

Who's Eavesdropping on Your Sessions?

Have you ever had a conversation with someone in your home and about an hour or two later you started seeing ads on your laptop for exactly what you were talking about? I have. It's creepy and more common than you think.

It's because your smart phones, your smart TV's, your Google Alexa and other devices are all "listening" to your conversations. What you talk about informs the marketing file these people keep on you and in turn tells their various partner ad-platforms what you might be interested in. Yes, Virginia, that's really a thing.

But here's the eye-opening thought that any counselor should be concerned about. What if Google (et al) are listening to the conversation between you and your client? How would the listening bot know that it's a confidential conversation and why should it even care? It won't know and it wouldn't care.

Or here's another variation. You're doing a virtual session with some client who's thinking about divorcing her husband. Unbeknownst to you and your client he's right outside the door recording the conversation on his phone and before the session is done he's blowing up his social media with selected audio bits along with his own commentary.

Don't Get on the Wrong Side of HIPAA

Do you see any potential HIPAA compliance problems here? I sure do. Which is why I've instituted a new policy in my practice. Clients are instructed to turn OFF their cell phones and any other electronic devices they may be bringing into the session with them. I don't need the potential data and confidentiality breach problems. Plus, for whatever reason is driving this, I've had more than a few clients bringing multiple cell phones into their sessions. One is bad enough but two is almost a guaranteed distraction.

And, no, simply putting it in their pocket is not adequate. I want them to turn it OFF and I've placed a sign on my lobby door to that effect. And you thought all you'd need for this counselor gig was a 10x10 room and a cheap insurance policy.


What are you doing in your office to keep the internet from eavesdropping on your client sessions?

Got Something to Say?

These posts are based on the beliefs and personal experience of the post's author. Please feel free to leave your civil, constructive comments below. We try very hard to back up our statements with fact-based data and we ask you to do the same in your comments. You do not need to be logged in to leave a comment.

About the Author

Who's Eavesdropping on Your Sessions? | Association for Mental Health ProfessionalsKathleen Mills is a fire-breathing, 33+ year veteran of the counseling world. People react in one of two ways when evil touches their lives: some retreat in fear, and some advance without pause to engage it. Kathleen falls firmly in the latter group. She owns and operates Life Tree Counseling in Frisco, TX, possesses a tireless work-ethic, and eagerly awaits your arrival into her growing army of warriors.

Become a Member!

Registration is quick and simple and the cost is very affordable. Join a group of like-minded counselors and take your practice to the top.

Therapy Disruptor Podcast Show

Presented by two firebrands and a fearless moderator, we discuss topics no one else is touching and advocate for common sense. Listen on Spotify account or in the AMHP website for CE credit. Tune in each week. It's fun!

Counselors' Community Monthly Webinar

For AMHP Members (yes, you can bring a friend!), this monthly webinar is where you can air it out!

Partner Programs

Our growing list of money-saving offers for tools and services you use in your practice. Use just one and cover your membership fee.

Annual Conference

Meet the people you've been taking to online all year and get your CE's completed. You've never experienced anything like this!

Preferred CE Providers

Meet our growing list of "Approved" CE providers. All of our providers meet the Board's requirements for "Approved Provider" status.

Supervisors Database

Every LPC and LMFT supervisor in Texas including their contact information and address. This is the list!

Leave a Comment