Remote Referral: Serendipity and Anonymity on the Web

I harbor no illusion that a reader could not discover my true identity with sufficient effort, but I prefer not to use BehaveNet to promote my practice, and I don't want my patients to have "in their face" everything I write.

(Names have been changed to protect the innocent.)

I need to refer a patient to a psychiatrist or psychotherapist in a distant part of the country where I know none personally. I put the word out to some friends and family, but I don't expect much. So I resorted to the directories on the Web. When I looked at the brief profile of one professional a piece of information, along with prior suspicions about the geographical location of this individual, made me suspect I had read some of his work and liked what I read. Furthermore I thought this might make for a good match between patient and provider. I emailed the provider, dropped a few hints, and believe there has been confirmation of my suspicion.

Here's my dilemma:

I firmly believe in the Golden Rule. I don't want to reveal the professional's identity to the patient, and hope he won't tell the patient about my own presence on the Web. On the other hand I certainly will not deceive the patient by claiming more knowledge than I possess about this professional.

My idea of a solution:

I tell the patient only that my knowledge of this professional is limited to what I have read on the Web. I leave it to the professional to decide whether to reveal his Web identity to the patient. And I send a link to this post to the professional.

Happy Thanksgiving

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