Internet counseling continues to advance as the world experiences advancements in technology. It is, however, a roadmap for numerous ethical issues due to the form in which the therapy occurs. Therefore the ethical issue identified is the safety of the client. Many of ethical issues that exist in counseling often culminate to the clients safety. It is especially evident in internet counseling as the issue of confidentiality, identifying the counselors competency, licensing, fraud and much more often surround the safety of the client and ensuring that he or she does not become a victim of any harm. As is evident internet counseling is limited in the prevention of the degree of harm that comes to the client. It may not be easy to identify how confidential the clients information remains once it is on the internet, how protected the client is on issues of fraud, how the client can determine the level of competency of the counselor and whether the counseling service is licensed in its respective state or not. It may act as a readily available and cheaper for of therapy, but the safety of the client is often not guaranteed. It is likely that the client is not protected in one way or the other.
Therefore the ethical issue identified is the safety of the client which involves issues of confidentiality, licensing, fraud, and counselor competence and those involved are the clients and the counselor. According to the APA codes of ethics, it is necessary for the counselor to keep every information concerning the client confidential. There are instances where breaching confidentiality is allowed, but the counselor needs to inform the client beforehand. Therefore, it may be hard for an internet counselor to keep confidentiality especially because the counselor has no way of ensuring a hundred percent security for client information on the internet. The NASW code of ethics requires total commitment to the client, which means that the clients security is paramount. It may be hard to guarantee such for internet counseling as the counselor has a platform where he or she could lie about competency or license and the client is at an increased risk of fraud. According to the ACA code of ethics, one of the professional responsibilities of the counselor is to ensure qualification for employment. However, it may be hard for a client to confirm the counselors qualification through internet counseling as the counselor may lie just to get clients.
The ethical issue mainly leans towards nonmaleficence which advocates for the least or no harm at all to the client. Internet counseling exposes the client to numerous avenues of potential harm. Therefore, the potential course of action will be to identify how to ensure the maximum safety for the client when engaging in internet counseling or opting for the traditional one-on-one form of counseling. There is no guaranteed way of ensuring the client is protected when engaging in internet counseling because as technology advances so does the ways through which private information can be accessed on the internet and the development of alternative ways of incompetent counselors working through client cases. On the other hand, traditional one-on-one counseling will ensure that the client is fully protected from any form of harm. The client can verify the counselors competency and license, he or she is ensured of confidentiality as only the counselor has access to it and the client is safe from any form of fraud. Therefore, despite the benefits that come with internet counseling the potential disadvantages put the client at increased risk of harm. Traditional one-on-one counseling will ensure that the welfare of the client is paramount.
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