WHATSUPDOC.US

Julie Evans Bingham, Ph.D.

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Remember, whether you use email or voicemail, I may not receive it or reply for 24 hours, or more sometimes on weekends or if I'm out of town.  Click on this link for emergencies.

Email: (available soon)

Email is efficient, easy, fast -- but you need to think through the security/privacy issues before you use it.  First we'll look at the problems, then some possible solutions.

Security

An email message is like a postcard:  along the way, several people could read it before it arrives at the destination computer, where more people may see it (if that computer is not password-protected, as they are here).

Let's think about who could read the email you send to me; then my email to you.  First, there are several computers your email will pass through on the way to the computers here.  These "servers" are completely unrelated to me, could be miles away, and your email is visible to anyone who knows how to get into these servers. 

When I write back, the same applies.  And then, are there others on your end who could see the message?  Your spouse or girl/boyfriend or child?  Your message to me will be visible as part of my reply (to remind you about your question), so both your message and my message could be readable by people who know you, if your computer is accessible to others.

Furthermore, your computer will store the message and unless you're really good at this, a trace can remain even after you delete it.  All this sounds like enough to deter anyone from using email! 

And yet, it does not;  many patients request an email option, and many people have written very personal accounts of their symptoms on the web.

Solutions

Many people don't worry too much about someone reading their email to a psychologist; because who else is really interested, anyway.  So, if you want to go ahead and use your regular email arrangements, that's okay with me.  I will write back to that location with at least as much caution as you display regarding information which could identify you.  

If you want more security than that, there are at least two ways to do this (so far --  I'm open to other suggestions). 

#1.  There are "secure email" websites which can be used for free.  I'm still learning how to use these myself but will happily work out a way to use one to receive, read, and reply to your secure email.  One is ZipLip.com.  Cute.  But you'll remember the name now, won't you?  For specifics on using ZipLip, read these step-by-step directions.  

#2.  You may use an email account specifically established for writing to Whatsupdoc.  Just as with #1, you must choose an account/address which does not identify you, such as CoWorkingGreat@yahoo.com.  Don't use something like john.smith46@ziplip.com , okay? (Go to Yahoo or Hotmail  or ZipLip to set up an account).  

What's different about this approach is that you must make sure nothing in your email subject or message identifies you either, e.g. referring to "my husband Jonathan".  I will try to make sure I don't use any personally identifying information in my reply, and I'm pretty good at this now from years of writing web answers.  I don't guarantee perfect, but I'm probably  better at it than you will be at first. 

The advantage of this approach is that no password is required on my end, but the password arrangement is not that tough (see directions for #1). 

Obviously, with either #1 or #2, you'll have to let me know somehow that this email address is "you".  I will keep my list locked, probably by 1st name and last initial only (which is the same for your name on the schedule).  

Please understand that security is an evolving matter.  If you're worried about the computers here and their security, read about Privacy.