Running head: Growing Trends in Group Counseling Growing Trends in Group Counseling: Ethical and Technological Issues that Effect Vocational Rehabilitation Term Paper By Diadra McGraw 546 Group Counseling Dr. B. Canfield February 26, 2008 Abstract This paper explores the different ways in which group counseling can be used for the purpose of Vocational Rehabilitation. It also gives detailed information of how technology can be used in group counseling during Vocational Rehabilitation.
The technique of group counseling especially in the area of Vocational Rehabilitation can bring up a number of ethical issues for the counselor and client to resolve. Those ethical issues can also cross over into the area of technology. The growing trends in group counseling have spread to the field of technology. This expansion has brought about a great number of ethical issues that may not be considered when implementing technology in the Group Counseling in the Vocational Rehabilitation.
The term group counseling refers to the counselors being enables practitioners to work with more clients-a decided advantage in these tight financial times- in addition; the group process also has unique learning advantages (Corey, 2004). This paper is to provide a brief background on distance technology services. This article will also focus on advantages, challenges and ethical issues that are involved in Vocational Rehabilitation Counseling (VRC). A major challenge in VRC is providing services for individuals to consumers that reside in rural areas.
This a significant task as there are 15 million Americans with disabilities living in rural areas (Riemer-Reiss, 2000). An easy remedy to the distance issue is to stray from traditional services with VRC and supplement a different form of communication for individuals that are unable to access these services due to the distance. Such nontraditional services include telephone communication, e-mail (electronic mail), and video tape. These methods are simple means of communication and many individuals have access to these systems.
The telephone system is a reliable one that can be used to convey information to the clients. The phone system has already proven a success in suicide hot lines, 24 hour counseling services, and mental health consultation inaccessible regions (Riemer-Reiss, 2000). The telephone will be used for admission interviews, individual feedback sessions, and audio teleconferencing. The Electronic mail (e-mail) is a new type of communication that uses computers to send messages almost instantaneously from sender to receiver (Riemer-Reiss, 2000).
The email system facilitates the student-teacher communication, promotes discussion among students, and provides opportunities for contact and collaboration with peers from around the world. This would ideal for group counseling sessions with patients and counselors. The telephone and email system are effective techniques for consumer-counselor communication because, they are fast, convenient, and efficient. The Real Time Video is used to allow clients and counselors to view each other as they communicate. Television and computer screens serve as delivery systems.
The modality is interactive, information can be provided and feedback given at the same time (Riemer-Reiss, 2000). Some of the major challenges would be to all of the above services of course are that they are technically based and rely solely on technology. Another, challenge is that many consumers maybe reluctant to access these nontraditional means of distance counseling sessions and telecommunication technology. The best resolution to the challenge of having technology based counseling is for Vocational counselors to be prepared with an alternative plan for service in the event of technical difficulties.
In addition to the challenge of the client/consumer reluctance to access the distance counseling technology, Vocational counselors should decrease the consumer/client anxiety by training the consumer, humanizing the environment and portraying a favorable outlook on the distance counseling process (Stroh, 2002). In addition to the challenges that VC are faced with they also have to deal with the ethical side of employing technology in Vocational Rehabilitation. The major ethical issue is the protection of the consumer confidentiality.
There are several ways in which the confidentiality of consumer maybe protected while at home and work when accessing the Vocational Rehabilitation counselor. Although a major issue is the consumer while at work are not assured of confidentiality due to many companies operating on a network. There is also the matter of the consumer being at home and not being assured of confidentiality from family and friends. The best know way to combat the lack of confidentiality is to have encryption techniques developed and adopted by all vocational rehabilitation agencies to achieve consumer confidentiality (Riemer-Reiss, 2000).
Distance Vocational Rehabilitation Counseling is a new wave of the future of counseling. VRC will be able to reach many client/consumers that are in rural areas. They would also be able to access patient information while out of the office and other counselors will be able to review this information as well if consultation is needed. This form of counseling once developed could be used in other areas. I can see this being schools especially those schools that have a large population of students but do not have any means of housing another counselor on campus.
It seems everything is shifting toward technology based systems. It seems only logical that counseling would incorporate some of these changes. However, I do not believe that a machine could ever completely take the place of a person-person counseling session, without some of the humanizing nature being lost and perhaps causing a sense of isolation in the consumer. In the 1970’s, the primary ethical problem facing VR practice focused on a relationship triad (Kontosh, 2000). The triad comprised the client, the rehabilitation counselor (RC) and the agency (Kontosh, 2000).
The central questions were 1) is the role of the rehabilitation counselor limited by the employee-employer relationship? 2) Are there ethical compromises that negatively affect the counselor’s obligation to the client/consumer? There is no clear concise answer simply because the idea that an RC would compromise ethics or principles in the name of economics seem as far fetched as a medical doctor denying a patient due to limited insurance coverage. However this happens everyday therefore how can an RC maintain their ethics and provide quality service.
In an attempt to answers these questions, Geist (1973) during the development of the rehabilitation code of ethics, presented the following succinct relationships: Moral principles take precedence, professional responsibility should act as a sounding board for personal moral principles and should take precedence over legal requirements, and statutory laws, subject to change according to an evolving civilization should act as sounding board for these principles of morality and professional responsibility (Kontosh, 2000).
The increasingly complex world MCO, the funding for VR services may cause RC’s to make case decisions based on funding and payment rather the need of the client or choice of consumer. This decision is extremely difficult when trying to identify the client in certain situations such as Worker’s compensation and third party payers, whose needs were being serviced. Although the RC maybe acting appropriately legally, the ethical problem lies in the charge to act morally and ethically as well as placing the client/consumers needs above all others (Kontosh, 2000).
The field of counseling and to me as a counselor because it provides scenarios in which ethical lines can be blurred without malius intent. In many cases counselors are trying to defuse situations with calm and reasoning. However in the process of trying to treat the client/consumer the counselor must always consider the initial problem/concern and if the needs are being met for the client/consumer, the client/consumer is the person with the issue/problem not the payer.
In the future research should be done to determine the benefits of MCO’s and the need of the employee to be sure that their needs are being met with little regard for the employer. Perhaps in many professions a survey could be issued to the employee that addresses there concerns as it related to their jobs and then the major outside concerns that affect their jobs.
Group counseling and private sessions maybe a suggestion and more cost effective way to be sure to reach all those employees in need of counseling, I realize that VR and RC are not setup to be money-making industries but in fact were designed to help the employee/employer relationship, however economics seems to be the root of all things that are heath related. Therefore ethical boundaries must be established to be sure that the role of counselor is addressed first and the source of payment is a trailing second. References Corey, Gerald. (2004). Theory and Practice of Group Counseling, 6th Edition. Belmont, CA.
Kontosh, L. G. (2000). Ethical Rehabilitation Counseling in a Managed-Care Environment, Journal of Rehabilitation (April 2000). Retrieved on April 2, 2007 from http://www. findarticles. com/ Riemer-Reiss, Marti (2000). Vocational Rehabilitation Counseling at a Distance: Challenges, Strategies and Ethics to Consider. Journal of Rehabilitation issue Jan-March 2000. Retrieved on April 2, 2007 from http://www. findarticles. com/ Stroh, Heather R. (2002). Applying APA’s learner centered principles to school based group counseling. American Psychological Association, Retrieved on April 2, 2007 from http: // www. apa. org. ed