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Chapter 3: Ethical and Legal Issues in Group Counseling

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Kristina Lopez

on 4 September 2013

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Transcript of Chapter 3: Ethical and Legal Issues in Group Counseling

Chapter 3: Ethical and Legal Issues in Group Counseling
to identify the major issues pertaining to group membership
to explore the role of the leader’s values in groups
to emphasize the need for group workers to adopt a social justice perspective
to identify special issues related to group members’ sexual orientations
Freedom to Withdraw from a Group
Procedures for leaving a group need to be explained to all members during the initial group session

Members have the right to leave a group, yet it is important that they inform both the leader and the members before making their final decision

The group leader must intervene if other members use undue pressure to force any member to remain in the group
Psychological Risks of Group Participation
Potential risks that group leaders need to monitor:
Misuse of power
Members may be pressured to disclose and violate privacy
Confidentiality may be broken
Types of Issues to Consider
Ethical issues

Legal issues

Clinical issues

Cultural Issues
Informed Consent
Informed Consent

Some information to give prospective members:
nature of the group
goals of the group
general structure of the sessions
What is expected of them if they join
What they can expect from you as a leader

Involuntary Group Membership
Many groups are composed of involuntary members

The challenge is to demonstrate the value of a group for members

Basic information about the group is essential

Avoid assuming that involuntary members will not want to change
Psychological Risks of Group Participation
Potential risks that group leaders need to monitor —
Scapegoating may occur
Confrontation may be done in an uncaring manner
Group leaders may not have the competencies to deal with some difficulties that arise in a group
Confidentiality is the foundation of a working group

Defining the parameters of confidentiality including its limitations is a leader's responsibility

Members need to be taught what confidentiality involves and the consequences of breaching confidentiality

Leaders need to remind members at various points in a group of the importance of maintaining confidentiality
Leaders must give special consideration to the following:

social media

ethical and legal dimensions of confidentiality

multicultural dimensions of confidentiality

minors in groups
Role of Leader's Values
Essential to be aware of your values and how they influence what you think, say, and do in groups

Groups are not a forum for a leader to impose their values on members

Leaders’ role is to assist members in examining options that are most congruent with their values

Group members have the task of clarifying their own values and goals, making informed choices, and assuming responsibility for what they do
Ethical Issues with Diverse Populations
Failure to use a multicultural approach in assessment, diagnosis and treatment planning leads to considerable harm

Some of the group norms generally associated with group participation may not be congruent with the cultural norms of some clients

Practitioner’s responsibility to have a general understanding of the cultural values of his or her clients, so interventions are congruent with their worldviews
Social Justice in Group Work
Goal is to promote the empowerment of people who are marginalized and oppressed in our society

Groups provide a context for addressing issues of power, privilege, discrimination, and oppression

Group work has the potential to further a social justice agenda
Special Issues Pertaining to Sexual Orientation
LGBT clients may come to group with a history of victimization and fear of abandonment

Counselors must seek supervision and/or consultation if their religious values conflict with their ethical duty

Necessary to critically examine your own biases, heterosexism, and homophobia
Special Issues Pertaining to Sexual Orientation
group norms and interventions should facilitate the safety and inclusion of LGBT group members

create a climate that allows for voluntary self-identification and self-disclosure by LGBT clients

take an active stance when other members express overt or covert disapproval of LGBT members
Ethical Concerns in Using Group Techniques
A clear rationale for using each technique is critical

Leaders might employ techniques unethically if they
use techniques with which they are unfamiliar
use techniques to enhance their power
use techniques simply to create intensity because of the leader’s need for intensity
use techniques to pressure members
Best Practice Guidelines of ASGW (2008)
Professional competence in group work is a continuous process

How do I improve my competence?
participate in continuing education, personal and professional development activities
seek personal counseling if you recognize problems that could impair your ability to facilitate a group
Seek consultation and supervision as needed
ASGW Professional Training Standards
ASGW (2000) has recommendations for what constitutes competence as a group facilitator

Knowledge competencies
Skills competencies
Core specialization in group work
Legal Safeguards for Group Practitioners
Take time and care in screening candidates for a group
Prepare them to participate actively
Demystify the group process
Strive to develop collaborative relationships with members
Consult with colleagues or supervisors whenever there is a potential ethical or legal concern
Incorporate ethical standards in the practice of group work
Discussion Questions
If you were on a board to make some decisions about a quality training program, what would be your recommendations? What do you consider some of the most important aspects of training group counselors?

As beginning group counselors, what are some of your concerns about the ethical use of techniques? If you observed your co-leader misusing a technique and were concerned that it could harm group members, what would be an appropriate way to address this issue?
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