Ethical and Legal Issues in Group Counseling, Research Paper Example

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Research Paper

Group counseling is associated with various ethical and legal dilemmas unlike individual counseling. Therefore, Counselors who engage in group counseling should be prepared with ethical and legal situations when they to plan to work with groups.  Counselors must critically consider issues like confidentiality, privileged communication, informed consent, detrimental relationship, values, and responsibilities. This paper will explore ethical and legal issues that relate to group counseling.

Group counseling possesses a very unique theory and techniques that differ from individual counseling such as that which involves couples or family therapy. It encompasses issues of diversity, cultural competence that require the counselor to apply increased counseling knowledge and sensitivity to be able to perform counseling smoothly (Marianne, Gerald, & Corey, 2010).

Counselors who want to be professional in group counseling must be willing to uphold both ethical and legal standards. They should be ready to consider ethical issues like rights of group members which include;

Informed consent and confidentiality

The counselors must ensure that the clients /group members to be counseled have been given prior consent to counseling and have been assured of the confidentiality of the whole process of counseling.

Psychological risks of groups

Given that counseling is done in groups, there is a lot of psychological risk to the group. The counselor must be careful enough to protect the group participants against the negatives outcomes that may arise as result of participating in the group counseling. Such negatives may include disruption, hostility, destructive confrontations, scapegoating, and harmful socializing among members. The counselor has the sole responsibility of ensuring that all prospective group participants are informed of the possible risks and take every precaution against them. Counselors must protect clients from physical, emotional and psychological trauma (Marianne, Gerald, & Corey, 2010).

Impact of group leaders values

The values of the leader may cause a major ethical issue. As a leader, your values must be clear and objective when dealing with valued which are different from yours. This can lead to consultation of supervision when you discover that a given value you uphold will not respect the value of a member in the group (Gerald, 2008).

Acting sensitively and ethically with diverse clients

The counselor must be very sensitive with the cultural diversities of the groups he/she is counseling. Each client’s cultural rights must be protected to enable the process of counseling to be a success. Culture respect becomes a major ethical issue when ones cultural rights are violated during group counseling.

Personal relationships with the clients

The counselor should relate professionally with the clients to avoid unnecessary questions among the group members.  Personal relationship with clients is a serious ethical issue when favorism is observed or noted in group counseling from the leader (Gerald, 2008).

Socializing within the clients

Socializing among group members is an issue which should be carefully studied to ascertain if it hinders or it facilitates the counseling process. if members are forming subgroups to gossip or discuss hidden agendas, then, the group leader must take precaution or stop the process immediately since the group is likely to cause a problem. The major ethical issue in group counseling revolves around the group leader’s competence and skills. A responsible group practitioner should be able to clarify his/her professional understanding of the ethical issues that encompass group counseling. Despite the fact that the counselor is conversant with the ethical issues, he/she must be able to make ethical descriptions in practical situations (Theodore and Barbara, 2007).

Legal issues in group counseling

Group counseling has professional liability which takes various legal dimensions depending on the weight of the malpractice committed. Counselors are supposed to practice within the ethical code of conducts and ethics and abide by the professional legal standard. When practitioners fail to practice within legal standards, they are subjected to civil penalties (Gerald, 2008). If the actions of the professional result into members suffering personal injury or psychological harm due to the practitioners ignorance to render the proper service or of negligence the leaders is liable for malpractice suit. Group leaders should keep themselves informed of the state laws to be able to provide counseling services which are standard and within the law. Ignorance is not sufficient evidence of a malpractice.

References

Corey, Marianne, Corey, Gerald, & Corey, Cindy. (2010). Groups: Process and Practice (8th ed.). Belmont, CA: Brooks/Cole Cengage Learning

Gerald, C. (2008) theory and practice of group counseling, seventh edition, Thomson Higher  Education Belmont,CA, USA.

Theodore P. and Barbara H. (2007). Ethical, Legal, and Professional Issues in Counseling. 2 nd  Edition, Pearson Merrill Prentice Hall,

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