If you have thought that maintaining an ethical counselling practice was a whole lot easier before the advent of the internet, teleconferencing capabilities, and social media platforms, you are not alone. In the last quarter century or so since we began to collectively understand “connectivity” in a new, highly technical way, we are privileged to have information instantaneously at our fingertips. We are delighted to be able to get hold of those we are calling almost no matter where they are at the moment we dial through. And documents that once were a three-day “rush” job for the courier to deliver can now be emailed in milliseconds, often with official status, to the recipients. But ethicists, mental health experts, and other observers have flagged the downside to the hugely gratifying act of connecting. It is all too easy for someone to discover, gain access to, or otherwise hijack our communications, thus obliterating our most staunchly defended professional values of privacy and confidentiality.
What are the ethical considerations we must observe when we do e-therapy, such as ensuring that someone “on the ground” in the client’s locality can be called upon immediately if the client experiences an emergency? How do we keep our clients from finding out about our private lives if they and we are connected on any social media platforms? Where, indeed, do we set our therapeutic boundaries, both in a traditional and cyber sense? How, now, shall we define our ethical dilemmas? This collection examines both traditional and cyber-generated threats to the maintenance of an ethical stance while working in today’s complex communications environment.
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