Ethical Considerations in Online Counselling

Essay on: Issues which are relevant to current counselling practices and their mitigation of risk.

In today’s internet-centric environment, online counseling is a current challenge for counsellors. That’s also regardless about whether or not they are fully in support of this technique. Yet, it’s possible that innovation is surpassing our grasp about how to effectively use it, not just in terms of healthcare, as well as in terms of ethics (Estacio, 2019).
There seem to be a variety of online resources that can assist online counseling. Instant chat, Messaging Services, SMS, and teleconference are examples of continuous (ultimate) genres, while mail is an example of delayed (way) approaches. The majority of types are message based, while others are video-based.
According to experts Cost efficiency, relative privacy, timeliness, good accessibility, public enlightenment, and comfort for patients with movement and transit challenges are among the advantages of Internet-based counseling.
Issues Relevant to Current Counselling Practice.
In conducting practice, online counselors will always be conscious of codes of ethics. Ethics are fundamental in any counseling field, but because online counselors engage with people at critical periods in their psychological and emotional growth, keeping aware of ethical norms and difficulties is much more necessary (Counselors for Social Justice, 2020). Such challenges their identification and their solutions are discussed in details below.

  1. Identification and explanation of Ethical issues.
    Healthcare professionals from all fields encounter ethical issues on a regular basis. Once it comes to ethical dilemmas, it’s best to take a step-by-step method in moral choice.
    However, there are ethical issues which apply to both online and facial expression counseling, there are also difficulties which are specific to online counseling. Counselors must become aware of the specific hazards of e-therapy, and also be ready to raise such issues with clients during the counseling relationship (Loui, 2016).
     The loss of the human element in psychiatric treatment.
     Concerns which are suitable or not suitable for online counselling.
     The difficulty to incorporate fascial signal / nonverbal cues into treatment.
     Threats to security and anonymity are a possibility.
     The slew of possible legal and ethical issues.
     Similar opportunity access and support.
     Balance of Boundaries between counselors and client to keep and secure about his/her privacy and protection.
     Technology challenge during online counseling and treatment.
     Counselors working boundaries with their professional abilities.
     Protection from Harmful Act
     Authenticity of Counselors
    Explanation of Ethical issues.
    The case study explains that the counselors face such issues which are explained above and identifying.
    According to international safety health society, the counselors must provide sufficient information to clients for safety concerns during online counselling session via call, testing, video conferencing (Estacio, 2019).
    The counselor should gain trust from client by showing such emotions and fonts while facing difficulty to treat nonverbal client efficiently.
    APA Ethical guideline state that counselors should avoid foreseeable relationship with client that could be harmful.
    APA Ethical guideline further state that counselors should provide proper security regarding client data, information, address, and personal details. From any misuse of such information from technology (Lloyd-Hazlett et al., 2017).
  2. why this is an ethical dilemma and how it relates to current counselling practice?
    When issues come up, the path ahead might not even be obvious right away. Initiate by distinguishing between facts and preconceptions, prejudice, ideas, or guesses. Evaluate whether the issue is one of ethics, professionalism, patient care, or the law or a combination (Lamont et al., 2019). Examine the course material, particularly the APA Ethical code, to determine whether there are any instructions for dealing with the matter.
    Plan for mitigation of Risk and Managing Ethical Issue.
    A variety of pertinent themes are discussed in order to raise ethical understanding and knowledge, however this is done in the manner of study and research instead of providing conclusive evidence (Rozell, 2018).
    Key concerns include the utilization of counselor instructional films with real clients; written consent; how study and analysis affects the treatment process; and how to obtain delicate and continuing express permission for psychotherapy and counselling study.
    • Using Training Videos
    • Informed and Conveyed Consent
    • Study and review of counselling
    • Continues and delicate consent
    • Distribution
    • The new BACP ethical platform’s worth and consequences
    Recommended practice principles now accessible for practitioners desiring to employ this form of assisting clients will be integrated continuously, and so will a consideration of client eligibility for online counselling as well as any notable distinctions in creating the online trusting relationship (Blue et al., 2015).

Professionals must operate inside their key expertise, according to the (ACA) rules. In order to gain further abilities and expertise, it may demand specialized training in online counseling practice.
Considering the ethical challenges that exist in the virtual environment of counselling, affiliations and policy makers need to provide formal training in online counselling that promotes and highlights leading practice strategies considering the majority of online counselling services review not actually obtained training in online counselling throughout their trainings and workshops (Kenwright, 2018).
According to the BACP Principles for Online Counselling (3rd ed.) (Anthony & Goss, 2009), counselors must have an adequate grasp of technology as it pertains to the provision of online platforms, including encrypting, information storage, data encryption, bridges, and intrusion prevention.
The ethical difficulties raised in this essay show the critical need for professional standards for online counseling to be developed on a continuing basis.

  1. Considering Associated risks which are likely impact (Client/Therapist/Oher.
    Legal and Ethical regulatory authorities face huge hurdles in maintaining up with the rapidly changing online scene as technology continues to advance at a rapid pace.
    Concerns were expressed regarding the counsellor’s limited aim to decide a client’s ability to agree instead of using verbal and nonverbal indicators. Clients’ ability to agree for themselves will be influenced by factors like their level of comprehension, intellectual functioning, and whether or not they know the language in which they are being requested to sign an informed consent form (“Supplemental Material for Therapist Empathy and Client Outcome: An Updated Meta-Analysis”, 2018).
    Associated Risk and Ethical Approaches for Client/ therapist/ other
    • Ethical responsibility – Among the first ethical concerns is psychiatric providers’ need to deliver treatments in response to client demand. While there may be certain worries about the offering of online psychotherapy treatments.
    • Don’t Harm – The possible risks associated with every therapeutic approach must be analyzed in the context of the possible benefits that can be achieved from the therapy.
    • Offering Treatments That Work – While there are differences about what metrics should be used to gauge the efficiency of psychotherapy, in-person cognitive behavioral therapy has a long history and well-developed conceptual framework to back it up.
    • Exercising Beyond Skill Limits – The (ACA) Ethical Code specifically states that therapists should only practice in areas where they have skills and experience, however where service levels still do not originate, therapists should “take appropriate efforts to ensure the expertise of their task and also to prevent complications, clients, learners, participants in the study, and others from damage.”
    As a result, it’s indeed vital that the counselor provides sufficient information to the customer so that they could make an informed decision on whether or not to pursue. Ongoing problems about evaluating a client’s situation in an online setting include whether the therapist could accurately identify whether the patient had been under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or to see if they were suffering perceptual illusions.
    Additional ethical risk is that certain online informed consent essentially demand customers to check the box to signify permission, implying that perhaps the customer might have not seen or comprehended the material.
    The BACP Standards require that the key findings be covered at a least in the Informed Consent Method: potential benefits and drawbacks of free counselling; encrypted communications; mental health professional as owner of the documentation; data storage guidelines; privacy statement; practitioner’s geological territory; how and where to commence during a digital collapse; Client’s immediate communication; dual connections (statement of limitations); charges and billing information.
  2. specific steps to mitigate associated risks and manage the ethical issue.
    The most difficult aspect of an ethical issue is that there is no ultimate alternative that complies with ethical standards. People have encountered such challenges across history, and psychologists have sought and struggled to discover solutions (McClean et al., 2021).
    • Protection of Privacy, Secrecy, & Security
    • Counselor skills and training
    • Communication bounding
    • Analysis of treatment
    • Emergency Dilemma
    • Counselor Practicing
    • Patient/client record
    • Technical Dilemma
    • Access and availability
    • Identity verification
    • Harm and misusage of date protection
    • Professional boundaries
    • In Person Treatment
    • Loss control Pharmacological
    Online counseling has a lots of benefits, including improvements to the therapy relationship and therapy dialogue, as well as being more efficient and convenient counseling facilities. The use of online counseling appears to be popular among both patients and counselor’s.
    Ethical risk control is highly challenging, owing to the fact that you can’t know what a client is feeling or monitor each movement they take. Finding strategies to control this risk, on the other hand, is critical: one individual’s decisions can cost a fortune, shut down a business for good, and cause severe harm to clients.
    The following methods for resolving an ethical issue were concluded:
    • Prove or disprove the ambiguity (issue) by thoroughly analyzing the circumstances. The presence of the problem can be objectively demonstrated in some instances.
    • Strategy based on value theory: To choose option that provides the betterment or the clear choice.
    • Alternative options should be sought: In some circumstances, the issue can be re-examined, and new approaches can develop.
    It is a key concern since it places the both patient and the counsellor in danger. Perhaps even more severe sanctions are required to ensure adherence? One approach could be for organizations to refuse to admit participants who do not follow ethical rules (“Psychological Counseling Processes of Prospective Psychological Counsellors: An Investigation of Client Counsellor Interactions”, 2015).
    Every counsellor has a right to assess about and confront the ethical issues concerning its use online to deliver counseling services. Associations should also assure that their standards for both the ethical use of the associated with online counseling are kept up to date with the ever-changing technological innovations. and endeavor to increase client adherence to meet basic requirements in order to safeguard the protection of both customers and counsellors in the world of digital counseling.

1- Counselors for Social Justice. (2020). The Counselors for Social Justice (CSJ) Code of Ethics. Journal For Social Action In Counseling & Psychology, 12(2), 18-34.
2- Loui, M. (2016). Ethical Issues in Journal Publication. Journal Of Engineering Education, 105(4), 531-532.
3- Estacio, R. (2019). The factors of compassion fatigue among guidance counsellors. Global Journal Of Guidance And Counseling In Schools: Current Perspectives, 9(3), 115-130.
4- Lloyd-Hazlett, J., Hobbs, J., & Honderich, E. (2017). Student Counselors’ Perceptions of Ethical Client Referrals. Counseling And Values, 62(2), 180-197.
5- Lamont, S., Battista, C., Merrill, A., Albert, M., & Kayanja, M. (2019). An ethical dilemma. Current Orthopaedic Practice, 1.
6- Rozell, D. (2018). The Ethical Foundations of Risk Analysis. Risk Analysis, 38(8), 1529-1533.
7- Blue, A., Darou, W., & Ruano, C. (2015). Through Silence We Speak: Approaches to Counselling and Psychotherapy with Canadian First Nation Clients. Online Readings In Psychology And Culture, 10(3).
8- Kenwright, B. (2018). Virtual Reality: Ethical Challenges and Dangers [Opinion]. IEEE Technology And Society Magazine, 37(4), 20-25.
9- Supplemental Material for Therapist Empathy and Client Outcome: An Updated Meta-Analysis. (2018).
10- McClean, K., Cross, M., & Reed, S. (2021). Risks to Healthcare Organizations and Staff Who Manage Obese (Bariatric) Patients and Use of Obesity Data to Mitigate Risks: A Literature Review. Journal Of Multidisciplinary Healthcare, Volume 14, 577-588.
11- Psychological Counseling Processes of Prospective Psychological Counsellors: An Investigation of ClientCounsellor Interactions. (2015).

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