We are apparently residing in the “information age,” that might be defined as a period in which most economical operations are dependent on information. That’s also owing to technological advancements and applications. The fundamental principles of this century can be described as a spike in the volume of skilled professionals, and a far more open world in terms of information and globalization.
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).
Professionals in the healthcare sector have legal and ethical obligations to protect the confidentiality of data about the patients in their care. Professors and others engaging in health subjects have legal and ethical responsibility to respect the privacy of people who volunteer to take part in clinical trials as well as other study activities.
Privacy & Confidentiality Ethical Issue Relevant to Current Counselling Practice.
In conducting practice, online counselors will always be conscious of privacy ethics. Privacy is 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.
- Electronic Confidentiality and Privacy issue.
According to international safety health society, the online counselor’s must provide sufficient information to clients for confidentiality and privacy concerns and delivery services to client within informed consent during online counselling session via call, testing, video conferencing (Abdul, 2020).
1.1 Concept of Electronic Confidentiality, Privacy and Ethics
Confidentiality is a vital right since it is a prerequisite for other rights like personal freedom autonomy. As a result, there is indeed a link among privacy, liberty, and basic human rights. Honoring a person’s rights is acknowledging that human’s right to liberty and seeing him or her as a self-contained human being (Abdul, 2020).
Ethics – Generally speaking, an individual’s ethical activities can be defined as those that are carried out within the parameters of what is considered to be good. It thus pertains to the topic of what constitutes positive or negative human behavior. Ethics’ goal is to assist us in behaving decently and achieving the essential components to make us really completely human.
1.1.1 Privacy & Confidentiality
There are two main aspect of privacy which is specific relevance for info profession. The first is that confidentiality is intimately linked to information – privacy relates to the complete of information and facts which is appropriate to an individual in an isolated state (Ferguson & Maehle, 2015).
Each of the category is briefly dealt with as below,
• Communication that kept private – All kinds of online correspondence that an individual chooses to keep confidential fall under this aspect of privacy. As an instance, information shared during such referral assessment among a user and an information professional.
• Privacy & Secrecy of Body – this is a legal information which have to be kept confidential while a counselor giving online counseling.
• Specific Personal Information – this information related to only one specific person which is address by the counselor during online counseling. E.g, client name, address, cell and email information.
• Information related to property right – this form of information related to person property right; this privacy information related in some instance where person have control over information that relate to personal possession.
It is indeed essential to understand the difference among privacy and confidential information. All above various kinds of protected information are not the only ones that can be treated confidentially; any type of data, including corporate secrets, can be treated confidentially.
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.
- Is Electronic Confidentiality and Privacy an ethical dilemma and how it relates to current counselling practice?
Study prevails that secrecy is complex to describe. There have been significant variances, such as confidentiality and privacy, which indicate a “fundamental dilemma” in which the counselors’ views regarding confidentiality are reflected in their treatment notes in various ways. Ethical dilemmas that compromise the client’s secrecy finally push the therapist’s limits to the point where, failing to safeguard the client may cause the client to suffer, harm themselves, or somebody else (Lamont et al., 2019).
Keeping anonymity while counseling children may present unique situations wherein counselors must consider their approach to therapy from several therapy viewpoints. As per a study, minors have a higher reliance on confidence and place a higher importance on the clinician’s pledge to protect child secrecy than adults, and this is a major reason Infants participate in online therapy session. APA reminds the therapist to keeping client data confidential and secret is their primary obligations.
As an instance, if a minor strives counselling for sexual or substance abuse, or advice on sexual interaction challenges (e.g., transmissible illnesses, contraceptive methods, infertility, and pregnancy prevention options), it indicates that most states permit legal recognition, consideration, and therapy of minors without parents’ permission.
When other entities request access to a patient’s medical records, privacy, secrecy, and safety concerns arise. advise that a physician has to be conscious of the large spectrum of information that others may have exposure to through judicial involvement, necessitating a methodical approach to memo and ethical concerns (Samuel, 2017).
Recognizing the importance of the data in the file while presenting demanded clients record data might be a crucial stage in the process. Notes taken by a therapist record or evaluating the topics of dialogue during a private therapy session, a collective, combined, or family therapy session, and kept away from the remainder of the discussion.
- Associated risks which are likely impact (Client/Therapist/Other).
While technology has a significant impact on the collection, storing, recovery, and transmission of data, the primary ethical implications are related to mobility and information manipulation. It enables more people to have access to data and information. As a result, more people will be able to view an individual’s confidential data (Marif Jafarov, 2021).
Medication prescribing and supervising, counseling session begin and end periods, therapeutic approaches and intensities provided, clinical lab tests, and any overview of the items listed: medication, health ability, course of treatment, side effects, diagnosis, and advancement to date” are all excluded from therapy notes.
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.
The impact of technological use on personal privacy presents itself in such a range of methods. Which include following,
• Electronic Monitoring – Therapist/People in the workplace to be monitored electronically. As previously stated, this applies to personal information. Digital cameras are used to do this. The employment of such technology is utilized by people as a means of higher efficiency.
• E-mail messages interception and read. This raises an ethical issue involving a person’s private conversation.
• The combining of databases containing private data – Database is another term. This refers to the merging of private data from various sources into a single centralized database.
• Hacker & Crackers attack on system network – The rise of so-called malicious hackers who get into computer networks is another huge risk to privacy.
• Software Development – the creation of software that makes decoding electronic data (which can include personal data) almost unattainable raises severe legal and ethical concerns. The software development called Pretty Nice Secrecy by is a prime illustration because it can prevent crimes (Walling, 2015).
- Ethical Guidelines to mitigate associated risks, Online Counseling (Client/Therapist/Online Counselors).
Possible guidelines to be provided for client/Therapist/counselors. Two basic aspects need to be considered prior to the application of such guidelines: the acknowledgement of a person’s freedom and autonomy, and also the reality that perhaps the ethical documents on privacy do not provide a comprehensive model for the ethical actions of counselors with respect to managing of personal and confidential information (Thomas, 2015).
The following specific instructions can be given while keeping these two considerations in mind, adequate norms are also provided.
• As a recognition of the person’s independence and freedom, the therapist should act on the premise that the client sees all personal data managed by the therapist as confidential. This indicates that the therapist recognizes the client’s right to regulate to some degree any intimate and confidential information based on the autonomy ethic.
• All intimate and confidential data kept and used by the online counselors must be made available to the client on a constant schedule. The aim for this is to give the client a chance to double-check the information’s veracity. Then it is the therapist’s obligation to ensure that the appropriate modifications are implemented and confirmed by the patient.
• The integration of a person’s private and other confidential information into a database besides the one in which it was initially obtained should be handled with prudence. This is especially true in cases where the client is unaware of the merger or its repercussions.
• Should not only the client be informed about consolidation and its impact, but they should also be granted the opportunity of access to the information on the centralized database, and the ability to fix any misinformation, as well as the right to determine who is using the relevant data and for what intent.
• The therapist must be disclosed All intimate and confidential information to the client clearly for the purposes for which it is being used.
• There is no need to collect any unneeded personal information. This is not only for logistical considerations, but also to avoid unnecessarily invading or exposing a person’s private – a breach of the autonomy ethic.
• The therapist obtained confidential as well as other personal details that is no longer required for the purpose for which it was obtained must be disposed of.
• When a person’s request for a particular service or product is denied depending on subjective information (e.g., reputation), the basis for the refusal must be disclosed to the client, in accordance with truth and human rights principles.
• Information on an individual should be treated with the utmost discretion. This entails the safety and management of information access, and also the permission to use it and the ability to add update and information (Zuiderveen Borgesius & Steenbruggen, 2018).
As a result, it can be stated that the utilization of technology in the gathering of information raises significant concerns about a person’s privacy rights. This right is inextricably tied to the rights to liberty and self-determination.
These issues are primarily related to information access and modification. This is especially important for online counselors who work with intimate and confidential data. The principles of liberty, honesty, and human rights can be used to develop specific recommendations for dealing with these issues.
1- 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. https://doi.org/10.18844/gjgc.v9i3.4343
2- 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. https://doi.org/10.33043/jsacp.12.2.18-34
3- Abdul, T. (2020). The Concept of Privacy: Is Privacy Still a Useful Concept?. SSRN Electronic Journal. https://doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3668520
4- Ferguson, A., & Maehle, A. (2015). Preface: Medical Confidentiality and Privacy: Past, Present and Future. Journal Of Medical Law And Ethics, 3(1), 1-3. https://doi.org/10.7590/221354015×14319325749955
5- Lamont, S., Battista, C., Merrill, A., Albert, M., & Kayanja, M. (2019). An ethical dilemma. Current Orthopaedic Practice, 1. https://doi.org/10.1097/01337441-900000000-99159
6- Samuel, M. (2017). Confidentiality Dilemma in International Commercial Arbitration. SSRN Electronic Journal. https://doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2945497
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10- Zuiderveen Borgesius, F., & Steenbruggen, W. (2018). The Right to Communications Confidentiality in Europe: Protecting Trust, Privacy, and Freedom of Expression. SSRN Electronic Journal. https://doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3152014