Ethics in Group Counseling Essay Sample

Ethics in Group Counseling


The strength realized through group counseling to result into individual changes of the members has received much recognition in the recent past (Corey & Corey, 2006). Individual therapy was viewed as the most effective treatment while group therapy received lesser attention in the past since it was taken as an alternative. Well and over time, group therapy has been found to produce same efficiency as that of individual therapy while dealing with psychiatric and psychological complications. All the same, it has been very important to point out important ethical matters in order to realize this kind of efficiency amongst practitioners. Basically, group counseling takes into account the different approaches where counselors come together to work with certain groups. It involves skill and knowledge application in the facilitation of a group to help a collection of individuals that are interdependent to attain their mutual objectives and goals which could be interpersonal, intrapersonal or related to their work. 


A group of counseling will normally have about 6-8 people who come one on one to deal with either one or two trained counseling practitioners and dealing with issues that are affecting them most. The group members take heed to one another and explicitly provide feedback to one another. Such interactions offer members of the group an opportunity to enhance their understanding and endeavor to apply new methods of being in the company of others and get to learn more about the modes they interact (Barlow and Burlingame, 2006).  Group counseling session content is always confidential where all the members make a commitment not to point out others and their concerns from outside that group.

Because of the different kinds of these groups, group intervention settings and leader training of the group, the rights of the group members are important. It is important for all the therapists to be aware of the fundamental rights as members of the group concerning their roles and responsibilities. Some of the most important rights include orientation, screening and informed consent. Members of the group should be assured of the appropriateness of the other members in the group and their functioning level (Yoon and Portman, 2004). It is the right for everyone for screening to be done on the potential group members before they can be allowed to get into the group.

The reason for screening is to verify if a person is well-suited for a particular group and if the group suits the individual’s objectives. After the eventual affiliate is educated on the essentials of the group together with the screening and first session, the partakers are probable to react better to the group’s design (Tidwell and Hanassab, 2007). The assembly’s affiliates have a right to be acquainted with the group’s objective, a sketch of the group’s layout, the credentials of the group’s manager, the charge and the overheads of linking with the group, and information on the situations in which privacy must be busted for the cause of lawful, moral or specialized motives for linking with the group.

In preparation of an associate, it is a recommendable performance to take in a debate of the principles and restrictions of assemblage, the mental threats implicated in membership and means of reducing the dangers. Based on the ethical guidelines for group counselors, the group associates train forthcoming members effectively by presenting enlightenment in relation to the projected group (Reid and Dixon, 2012). The reason for direction, viewing and knowledge on approval dealings is to present a suitable contest among the assembly and the person and could possibly ascertain to be the greatest defensive average to evade future moral obstacles.

In reality one of the major principles detailed to group therapy is reciting first the roles and responsibilities of all members and the restrictions of privacy. The significance of giving a full update at the beginning of group therapy is also advised. Recommendations are made that the group associates ought to notify the new members on group, members should inform others whether involvement is intentional or unintentional. It is worthwhile to know the moral surprises adjoining involvement in a group (Jacob and Greggo, 2001). The surprises could involve unintentional involvement concerns, the associate’s freedom to leave the group and compulsory involvement in diverse actions that occur through group efforts. Many counselors are encountered with the view of attending to clients who are in opposition to their will or for different causes unwilling to contribute.  Again, if the associates are present unwillingly, therapists ought to struggle to give a knowledgeable approval.

Reverence for the sovereignty of each person happens to be necessary as the unity among associates appears throughout the group course. It is affirmed that group associates should guard their privileges in opposition to bodily terrorization, fear, cruelty, and unnecessary demands as is probably sensible. The group’s intention is to assist members in discovering their own results not pressurizing them into acting the group’s way. However, associates may start to experience pressure in revealing secrets, actively destroying knowledge if not conversant or secluded. In group therapy lessening the chances of intimidation is significant to the membership rights of the associates and permits the means of beneficiary for the assembly to employ its efforts (Yoon and Portman, 2004).

Among the trickiest features of group therapy is not disclosing members information. The associates must be responsible in guarding each other by expressing privacy and possible restrictions of upholding it in the assembly work. Despite the fact that it is the counselor’s obligation to provide an environment in which privacy is upheld, it is quite hard owing to influence and the rule prevailing in their area. Confidential statement is a lawful approval guaranteeing members that individual information revealed in beneficial associations will not be uncovered by counselors in lawful arrangements. Moreover, the perception of confidential statement, normally approved to individual-counselor dealings does not pertain to group analysis since the added associates operate as third party (Nilsson and Wang, 2008). The group’s therapist could be excused from giving evidence but any other member might be compelled to be a witness.

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Confidential statement does not affect work done in groups, in the court of law, as it was not anticipated to defend statements made within groups. There are different rules enacted by different states and nations to fight privacy breeches. The complexity in upholding confidential statements in group employment could be reflected in a way whereby it is affirmed that affiliates have no hope of privacy in the group situation. Common moral questions adjoining team labor branch from the approach, tasks and proceedings of the group’s manager, not from the group. The capability of the manager to react to disagreement or testing events in the assembly is among the complicated features of group headship. Decent strategies ought to be considered for assembly managers to react to associates in a just manner (Reid and Dixon, 2012). Currently, educating skilled group heads has turned out to be an important feature of rehabilitating adjustment series in the midst of the ethical sensitivity in group counseling.

Standards of Training

As a result of an increasing need of being sensitive on ethical matters in modern group therapy, training of competent leaders of these groups is very vital (Jacob and Greggo, 2001). A lot of emphasis has been placed on the significance of group leaders’ training based on the professional standards for ethical issues training. Group leaders in counseling need to have the ability to close and open the sessions of counseling, model the suitable group members’ behaviors, lead in suitable self disclosure in the members, give and take feedback, and assist members to give meaning to the encounters they have and assist the members to integrate and apply what they have learnt (Tidwell and Hanassab, 2007). The core competencies of group work have standards as found in the scope and the nature of practice, evaluation of the group members and the social systems where they work and live, making plans for group interventions, co-leadership and leadership and competent practices of diversity. There is a need to have increased awareness of such ethical standards in order to make group counseling more effective. 

Leaders’ Values and Their Impact in Group Counseling

Group leaders have a lot of authority and should make sure that they are not imposing their individual values on the group. The core root of such ethical concerns in this field takes into account leaders making use of their group to enhance their individual agenda or to realize their personal needs at the expense of the members in the group. Those taking part in group counseling establish an awareness of their individual values and the requirements and the potential effect that they have on measures that are certainly to be made. There is a difference realized when the leader exposes and imposes personal values. When leaders are found imposing their personal values, they become disrespectful towards the members. Leaders may, however, expose their values when conflicts arise. This is for the reason that, values cannot be avoided and are a pervasive psychotherapy part (Yoon and Portman, 2004). Group leaders must not impose their individual values on the group although should strive to build a platform of discussing values and exploring as a way of making sure that there is respect for all in the various values upheld by the group.

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Ethical Issues across Cultures

Adopting a perspective of multicultural sense is very essential.  The leader must show ability and the importance of developing a multicultural sense. The society face changes into a more large and diverse population and therefore, group administration should adapt to realize the needs of such changes and the responsibility therein of the group leader to make sure that this happens. Leaders must show competence in self awareness, group members’ awareness on their perceptions and diversity suitable strategies of intervention. Therefore, it is important for the group counselors to become increasingly knowledgeable, skillful and aware as they facilitate groups with memberships representing the societal diversity. Therefore, scholars have advocated for therapists with competence on diversity (Tidwell and Hanassab, 2007).  The efficiency of group counselors in any kind of population would require them to be competent on cultural basis.

However, group counseling has in the past not been very systematic and attentive to working across ethnic backgrounds and in different cultures; it has mainly been founded on American-European counseling and psychotherapy models (Nilsson and Wang, 2008).   The ethnocentric attitudes along with other biases are very hard to get out of a group context, although progressive leaders of these groups, the form of interventions will carry on in the direction of a format of diversity competence. It is highly recommended for referrals to be applied in a case whereby the group counselors are not well trained.

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Dual Relationships

Being aware of the precursors to getting into a dual relationship could deter practitioners from doing this prevalent breech of ethics. Any situations that include dual group leader relationships may appear in three ordinary forms; social connections with trainers as counseling practitioners, group members and assessors, and simultaneous group and individual therapy with a patient. Counseling practitioners providing both group and individual therapy to a particular client simultaneously may be at the risk of breeching informed consent and confidentiality since it could be hard to remember the context in which the client gave out information. Sequential as contrasting to synchronized group and individual therapy could reduce the dual relationship formation risk (Barlow and Burlingame, 2006). Group counselors should be careful to avoid any occurrence of dual relationship with members of the group that could impair their therapeutic judgment along with those that are certainly going to compromise a member of the group and their ability to fully take part in the group.

Dealing with Group Members

There could be challenges of difficult members of the group counseling. This is regardless of the very strict processes and procedures of screening. The group members could be disruptive and not compatible with the entire group. Therapists must know how to point out and deal with such clients in an ethical way (Zhai, 2002). The members that are difficult to deal with could pose a lot of challenges onto the system in getting heard or in being understood through the group or is doing things as counter-dependents. These are members who coil back from the structures of authority like in conforming to the group’s norms. The group members who prove to be difficult to deal with in posing challenges of going by the group’s norms must be pulled back into the system through other members, turning the negative energy source to one that is a positive opportunity for therapy. The leader in the groups should be in a position to differentiate if the challenges posed by the members are a normal phenomenon of the process by the group or may be the person is merely creating an environment that is counterproductive for the other people in the group.

Malpractice and Legal Issues

Even though the earlier highlighted ethical requirements related to groups have legal implications and liability, confidentiality, the right to offer protection, keeping a record of procedures and practices of billing fees are fields that have a bigger potential risk in legal terms. Counselors have the right to protect the entire public from clients that are dangerous and the right to protect the members of groups from one another. Therefore, group leaders should protect the rights of the members, against physical threats, undue pressure from peers, intimidation and coercion (Estrada, Frame and Williams, 2004). The records in group counseling especially for victims of rape may be subpoenaed and need protection. Therefore, group counselors must not point our characteristics that are identifiable in the records of the members of the group. Members should also be kept from getting access to the files of their fellow colleagues along with information of diagnosis and any other material considered private for the purposes of upholding privacy.

Selection of Intervention

When choosing an intervention, it is very vital for the group leaders to have a clear logic for the methods they apply in their roles in the group. An emphasis is usually made on the vitality of the suitable application of techniques together with goal development incorporation and all the time practicing treatment that is equitable (Reid and Dixon, 2012). Group leaders have the responsibility not to abuse such techniques for their individual interests and ambitions. However, they must endeavor to execute interventions well for a specific group they are working with. 

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