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Website Policies You Need

As someone in the helping profession, you might not be considering, or even aware of, the legal requirements that come with having a website. Website policies, such as Terms and Conditions, Privacy Policy, Disclaimer, Social Media Policy, Cookie Policy, and Privacy Notice (HIPAA), are often overlooked.

You might think, “But I have those addressed in my intake paperwork when someone signs up. I don’t need them on my website.”

It’s great that you have those, AND legally, you’re required to have some of these policies on your site if it is accessible online to a variety of users.

A great example: 

In the US, if your website is accessible in California (which most are), you are required by law to adhere to the California Online Privacy Protection Act (CalOPPA), which protects those living in California who visit your site. You must have a privacy policy displayed there in order to be in compliance.

You could receive a penalty of up to $2,500 per violation (aka per person visiting your site) without that privacy policy. The policy must also cover each element required by the law, based on what your clients are able to do on your website.

Which means, it’s actually really important.

If you’re thinking now: “Oh sh*t, I’m out of compliance,” or even worse, “I’ve BEEN out of compliance,” don’t worry. I got you!

First things first… I am NOT an attorney, but I know a great one that offers templates for online entrepreneurs at a fair price so that you may get and stay in compliance. Visit her template shop here.

Secondly, when we talk about website policies there are several policies you should strongly consider adding to yours:

  1. Terms and Conditions:

Setting clear terms and conditions on your website is like establishing the rules of engagement. Outline the terms of use and any expectations clients should have when using your website or services. Clearly define the working relationship, confidentiality limitations, and the boundaries of online communication.

  1. Cookie Policy:

A cookie policy is not just a legal requirement; it's a way to inform users about the data your website collects. Be transparent about the use of cookies, what information they track, and how it benefits the user experience. This builds trust and shows your commitment to privacy.

  1. No Surprise Act Language (Therapist Specific):

With the implementation of the No Surprises Act, healthcare providers, including therapists, are required to provide clear and understandable information about their services, fees, and insurance coverage. Embedding this language in your website policies ensures compliance with the law and reinforces trust with your clients.

  1. Disclaimer:

A disclaimer is your first line of defense against misunderstandings. Clearly state the limitations of services, the informational nature of your website, and that it is not a substitute for professional advice. This protects both you and your clients from potential misconceptions.

  1. Privacy Policy:

A comprehensive privacy policy informs users about how their data is collected, stored, used, and changed. Discuss the security measures you have in place and assure clients that their sensitive information is handled with the utmost care.

  1. Privacy Notice (HIPAA) (Therapist Specific):

If you're dealing with Protected Health Information (PHI), compliance with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) is non-negotiable. Provide a privacy notice that outlines your commitment to safeguarding PHI and the specific measures you've taken to comply with HIPAA regulations.

  1. Social Media Guidelines:

Many business owners utilize social media to connect with their audience. If you have a social media presence, outline guidelines for engagement on these platforms. Specify how you will handle comments, direct messages, and the sharing of content to maintain professionalism and confidentiality.

What you can do this week:

  • Take some time to research and understand the legal requirements for professionals' websites in your country, state, or jurisdiction.

  • Check out Christy Westerfield, a trusted attorney I’ve partnered with who has worked specifically with entrepreneurs, coaches, therapists, and other online business owners for many years, providing them with legal contracts and policies they need to remain compliant.

*Special offer: Individuals or businesses working with me on building or redesigning their website get 30% off all policies, so if you’ve been wanting to update your website (yes, this includes SEO optimization), now is the time. Book a call to get started!

Wishing you a week filled with creativity, connection, and client-centered marketing!

P.s. Again, I’m not an attorney and the information shared in this entry is not a substitute for seeking the support of a legal professional and by reading this, you understand you are responsible for your own legal decisions.

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