Monday, March 23, 2009

Web Secret #44: The Ethics of Online Counseling and Everything Else

Anytime I present to a group of eager professionals wanting to promote their private practices and businesses using Web 2.0 platforms, they ask me about the ethics of using Facebook, YouTube, Skype, and other social media. Anytime I listen to a speaker talk about online counseling, guaranteed - someone in the audience asks about the ethics of providing online counseling.

Now I would love nothing more than to include information about the ethics of the Internet in my presentations. But here's the rub - go find it. Every couple of months I do a search for any articles/conferences/presentations touching upon the ethics of online professional practice, and I usually come up empty handed.

The truth of the matter is that the Internet, social media, and a broad range of web based applications are developing at warp speed, and the ethics folks are just beginning to come to grips with the implications of these technologies. A major association recently revamped their code of ethics and they didn't even touch upon online counseling.

Another confession: until recently, I had a bias that online counseling was somehow less than face-to-face counseling. Then, at last year's 2008 World EAP (Employee Assistance Program) Conference, the head of India's largest EAP revealed in a presentation to conference attendees that in India, 70% of all EAP counseling is delivered online, via e-mail. Turns out that over there, counseling is still a major taboo. If you have problems, your family is supposed to help you solve them, NOT a therapist. I would venture to guess that counseling services of all stripes in India are delivered primarily via the Internet. So wrangling with the ethics of all of this would seem to be important and timely.

Finally, just a couple of weeks ago, I came across some resources, at least about the ethics of online counseling.If any of you come across articles/books/blogs/webcasts about the ethics of social networking platforms and Web 2.0 - please give me a holler!

1 comment:

  1. Hi and thank you for posting information about the Online Therapy Institute's blog. Kate and I have also developed an ethical framework specific to online counseling- social networking is included within the framework. The framework can be found at I am also doing a workshop May 1 in Atlanta and in October at the EAPA conference (pre-conference)and the focus being the ethics of working and socializing in cyberspace.