Academic Psychiatry

, Volume 35, Issue 3, pp 168–174 | Cite as

Professional Boundaries in the Era of the Internet

  • Glen O. GabbardEmail author
  • Kristin A. Kassaw
  • Gonzalo Perez-Garcia
Original Article



The era of the Internet presents new dilemmas in educating psychiatrists about professional boundaries. The objective of this overview is to clarify those dilemmas and offer recommendations for dealing with them.


The characteristics of social networking sites, blogs, and search engines are reviewed with a specific focus on their potential to present problems of professional boundaries for psychiatrists.


The professional boundary questions that have arisen in the expanded world of online communication can be subdivided into three areas: ethical concerns, professionalism issues, and clinical dilemmas. Only the first category involves true boundary problems as normally defined.


The expansion of the Internet has redefined traditional areas of privacy and anonymity in the clinical setting. Guidelines are proposed to manage the alteration of professional boundaries, as well as issues of professionalism and clinical work, that have arisen from the complexities of cyberspace. The author discusses implications for residency training.


Search Engine Social Networking Site Academic Psychiatry Privacy Setting Psychiatric Resident 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Academic Psychiatry 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Glen O. Gabbard
    • 1
    Email author
  • Kristin A. Kassaw
    • 1
  • Gonzalo Perez-Garcia
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of PsychiatryBaylor College of MedicineHouston, Bellaire
  2. 2.University of Texas Southwestern Medical SchoolDallas

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