Individualcounseling is a collaborative therapy involving interpersonalinteraction between the therapist and a client while group counselinginvolves the use of a collaborative approach by the therapist tosimultaneously assist multiple clients. In both group and individualscounseling therapists are required to uphold the ethical principlesand values. In grouptherapy, professionals are required to provide services to clientsin groups but at the same time ensure clients’ safety is maintainin accordance to the prevailing ethical standards. Ethical issuesunique to group therapy include conflictof interest, referring clients, clients and sharing, andconfidentiality. There are ethical issues that apply to both grouptherapy and individual therapy. Both individual therapy and grouptherapy requires professionals to provide safety to the clients inaccordance to the standards of ethics.In both individual counseling and group counseling require atherapist to offer the members with relevant information to helpminimize the ethical issues and crushes
Ethicsrefers to professional, scientific, cultural or education principlesor values applied in various settings and environments (Bolieret al., 2013).They are parametersthat are followed by professionals in order to ensure that fairnessprevails (Jacobset al., 2012).These ethical considerations differ from one profession to anotherand apply differently in different counseling situations, and arebased on ethicalstandards.Ethicalstandards are guidelines that are published and updated byprofessional organizations. They are the basis upon which decisionsare made regarding professional behaviors(Brabender,Fallon & Smolar, 2004).These guidelines serve the best welfare of the community,professional and clients in different types of situations. They alsocommunicate the overarching professional values and principles.Practitioners use these ethical standards to decide whether aparticular behavior is unethical or ethical(Forsyth,2014).Thispaper discusses hot topics relating to ethical consideration forindividual and group therapy. It also compares group therapy toindividual therapy and provides reasons that compel professionalcounselors to choose individual counseling against individualcounseling.
Counseling:Group Therapy and Individual Counseling
Counselingis a profession that involves empowering people from diverse familiesand backgrounds (Corey, Corey & Haynes, 2014). Counselingis often conducted with a view to accomplishing various goals thatare associated with education, careers, professions and mental healthand wellness. Individual counseling is a collaborative therapyinvolving interpersonal interaction between the therapist and aclient. It is aimed at helping clients to achieve their goals andpersonal strength. On the other hand, group counseling involves theuse of a collaborative approach by the therapist to simultaneouslyassist multiple clients. In view of Barros-Bailey and Saunders(2010) group counselinginvolves a trained therapist encouraging and helping a group ofpeople to overcome their challenges (Forsyth, 2014).This form of therapy allows group members to learn from other membersand from personal experiences. It also helps members of the groups toreceive different ideas and viewpoints on issues affecting them. Italso influences the growth of clients and helps increaseself-awareness in these involved.
GroupTherapy: Ethical Issues
Grouptherapy is challenging because it requires professionals to provideservices to clients in groups but at the same time ensure clients’safety is maintain in accordance to the prevailing ethical standards(Brabender,2006).Therefore, it is important for counselors to maintain professionalismthrough upholding professional and personal values.
Thereare ethical issues that are unique to group therapy namely conflictof interest, referring clients, clients and sharing, andconfidentiality.
Confidentialityis one of the cornerstones of effective treatment and healthytherapeutic relationships. It is based on four ethical principles:fidelity, autonomy, nonmaleficence and beneficence (Brabender,Fallon & Smolar, 2004).Autonomy posits that clients in a group therapy have the right tochoose whom they will share or reveal information. Confidentialityemphasizes that therapists should respect clients’ right to decideand make a decision regarding the information they disclose(Hartman & Zimberoff, 2012).On the other hand, fidelity refers to the loyalty and faithfulness ofthe therapists to keep promises made between them and clients,including not disclosing or revealing the clients’ information.Nonmaleficence and beneficence also play an important role when itcomes to confidentiality. According to Forsyth (2014)clients benefit when they achieve a trusting relationship with thetherapist and when thee therapists keeps their confidentialinformation. According to Alexopoulos, Raue and Areán(2003) the disclosure ofclients’ private information can harm the therapeutic relationship. According to Kaminer (2005)confidentially is both a legal and ethical requirement in grouptherapy. Kaminer (2005)further suggests that group therapists should maintain clientconfidentiality by creating and maintaining psychiatric records.Gonzalez et al. (2005)argues that the number of people involved in group therapy makes itchallenging for therapists to uphold confidentiality.
Incounseling, conflict of interest may range from dual relationships,too much self-disclosure by the therapist, and to the therapistcreating non-professional relationships with the clients (Jacobs,et al., 2012 Jacobs et al., 2016). According to Gonyeah,Wright and Earl-Kulkosky (2014) these ethical issues may beavoidable or unavoidable. Certain ethical considerations and rulesapply in situations involving the interaction of therapists andclients outside the professional office setting. According to Burianand O’Connor Slimp (2000) the stakes for client protection andsafety is higher group therapy than in individual therapy because ofthe large number of individuals involved.
Counselorsare required to be mindful and aware of when clients should be movedfrom individual setting sessions to group sessions and from one lessqualified therapist to a more qualified therapist. In view of Jacobs,et al. (2012) therapists should understand their shortcomings andwhen they should refer a client to their colleagues. When it comes togroup therapy, it is suggested that the therapists must know whetherclient is benefiting from the group settings or individual settings.They are required to refer clients to more appropriate and suitablesettings that meet their needs (Brabender, Fallon & Smolar,2004).
Assuggested by Corey, Schneider-Corey and Haynes (2014)therapists should inform the client about issues that can be sharedfreely within the therapy sessions and relation to the issue at hand.According to Corey, Schneider-Corey and Haynes (2014) thecounselor should let the client know that they have the right not todisclose what they find to be inappropriate or feel uncomfortable. Inview of Hartman and Zimberoff (2012) therapists should also behonest and disclose their training and experience to their clientsand that they should avoid falsifying information as this constitutesan ethical infraction. According to Corey (2015) therapistsshould demonstrate and reveal to the client that they have thenecessary training, qualification and competence in providing singleindividual or group therapy. Elsewhere, Storch et al. (2013)suggested that the therapist shouldcreate group therapy boundaries. These boundaries can help thetherapist to maintain professionalism.
Howthese Ethical issues compare to those from individual counseling
Thereare similarities between ethical issues in group therapy and ethicalissues in group therapy. There is, however, very little variationbetween the later and the former. Both individual therapy and grouptherapy requires professionals to provide safety to the clients inaccordance to the standards of ethics(Cayleff,1986).In group therapy, the therapist needs to offer safety to the clientsas they work in a group setting. In individual setting, the therapistoffers safety to the client in an environment that involves theclient and the professionals(Davenport,2004).
Inaddition, both individual counseling and group counseling require atherapist to offer the members with relevant information so as tominimize the ethical issues and crushes. In group counseling thetherapist is expected to emphasize that the levels of confidentialityare lower than those of individual counseling(Coley,2011).The level of confidentiality is reduced in group therapy because amember of the group shares her story to the other members of thegroup hence reducing the confidentiality (Jacobset al., 2016).
Inboth individual counseling and group counseling, a therapist shouldavoid dual relationships with the clients. A therapist is expected tohave only a professional relationship with his client (Brabender,2006).Dual relationships may harm the client rather than help her.Therapists should not offer therapy to family, friends, family offriends, and friends of family. Therapists should also not take partin a romance, friendship, or business with a client (Jacobset al., 2016).
Whygroup therapy could be Chosen over individual counseling or viceversa.
Thereare some reasons why a therapist would choose group therapy overindividual counseling. There are also some reasons why a therapistwould choose individual counseling over group therapy(Coley,2011).Individual counseling is a form of collaborative therapy between thepatient and therapist. Individual therapy is useful in the sense thatit promotes personal growth. On the other hand, group therapy refersto a psychiatric care, where one or more therapists facilitate acounseling session that involves several patients in a group. Thegroups involved in therapy have various topics that should beaddressed. All the members of the group have similar reasons ofjoining the group. In most cases, people come to the group therapy toget some personal growth. Individual counseling, on the other hand,refers to one therapist facilitating a counseling session with oneclient(Coley,2011).
Oneof the reasons why a therapist would prefer group therapy toindividual therapy is the high monetary reward that a therapy gainsduring group therapy. The group therapy allows the practitioners towork with more than one client hence increasing the amount of moneycollected in a single session. Clients, on the other hand, will havean opportunity of saving the cost of therapy as a result of thereduced cost of therapy(Coley,2011).
Ithas been reported that group counseling yield more success thanindividual counseling. It does benefit many patients in a singlesession. Group therapy is also rich in better social skills thatemanate from the safe environment where the members of the group canhave an opportunity to share ideas, feelings, and thoughts. Themembers of the group have a chance to learn some coping mechanismsfrom the other members of the group(Coley,2011).
Ingroup therapy, clients will get a chance of receiving some positivefeedback from the members of the group, and different perspectiveregarding the given issue. These feedbacks and different perspectiveshelp improve the personal growth of the members of the group. Assuch, this type of therapy is not depended on the counselor alone(Brabender,2006).The members of the group have a huge responsibility of helping othermembers of the group. As a result, the members of the group willimprove the ability of learning new methods on seeing specificproblem.
Theneed to have a client open up freely could make some therapists toprefer individual counseling to group counseling since individualcounseling setting allows clients to open up freely. A client will befree to talk about his issues and struggles without having the fearthat other people may judge her(Coley,2011).
Therapistsin a group counseling struggle to manage the group(Corey,Corey & Haynes, 2014).A therapist would avoid group therapy and embrace individualcounseling because of the challenges in managing the group. One grouphas about ten people with different personality, different culturalorientation, and different preferences(Corey,Williams & Moline, 1995).Effective management of such group requires high understanding ofeach and every member of the group. Having individual counselingsessions helps the therapist to avoid the hustle involved in copingwith the members of the group(Crespi,2009).
Individualtherapy is preferable to group therapy because in group therapy, itis easy to ignore the issues of the clients. In group therapy, allthe clients share their issues. A therapist here deals with a coupleof clients in each session. If there are ten clients, for example,the therapist is expected to clearly articulate each and every issueof all the members. It is impossible for one therapist to remembereverything said by all the clients. It is possible for the therapistto ignore some issues of the client(Corey,Corey & Haynes, 2014).
Basedon the evaluation of various differences and the benefits it hastowards the group and individual counseling, it may be better tochoose group counseling against individual counseling. There are fourreasons why I believe group counseling is the more effectivecounseling method to do. There are pros and cons to each type ofstyle that a counselor chooses whether it is group or individualcounseling but in the end it the decision of the counselor. The fourreasons why I believe group counseling is more effective is first thefact that as a counselor we are able to reach out to a larger groupof people. Instead of focusing a large period of time on one person,we are able to help the lives of many other individuals as well.Group counseling can benefit many other lives as well as thecounselor and the clients in the group can see the variousperspectives and learn off of one another (Brabender,2006).This is a great way to build community and simulate the body ofChrist in a counseling session. We are able to build one another up,instead of one person desperately trying to help one person. Thesecond reason I believe group counseling is more effective is due tothe leadership skills that a counselor can build throughout theyears. Once a counselor has encountered various problem and mademistakes, they are able to become stronger and effective leaders asthe session progress. Having strong leadership skills is a greatfeature to have in the life of a counselor. When you are onlycounseling one person at a time, the characteristic of leadership inthe life of the counselor is not being developed. The third reasonwhy I believe having group counseling sessions is at an advantage isone that perhaps a counselor should not take into deep considerationbut it is an issue that we all think about and that is money(Coley,2011).It is beneficial for both a counselor and the group. They counseloris able to raise his finances through obtaining a group counselingsession, compared to one person and the member of the group can savemoney as well. The cost of a group session is much less than if youare seeking individual counseling (Brabender,2006).In our world today, saving money and earning money are to goodphrases. The fourth reason why I believe group counseling is muchmore effective is because of the challenge that a counselorexperiences. Each group counseling that a counselor undertakes, theyare able to sharpen their skills, learn more from the group membersand not be complacent with the knowledge that they have (Corey,Corey & Haynes, 2014).Managing a group is much more difficult and challenging than managingone person. As a group counselor you are continually learning,experimenting, and striving to make a difference in the life of aclient.
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