Confidentiality of client's information is an ethical duty of every professional individual or organization working with sensitive information about their clients. It is important for professionals to safeguard sensitive information entrusted to them by their clients. It is worth mentioning that confidentiality includes protecting all sensitive information from unauthorized access, disclosure, theft, loss, or modification. Confidentiality is vital when it comes to a trusting relationship between the client and the professional.
In the case study provided, there are a number of ethical issues in the interview and the manner in which the guest counselor handles the caller's issue. One, the caller calls in and discusses sensitive information about a friend on the media. The media is a very open place to discuss such sensitive matters with any client or even so a friend to a client. Two, the counselor goes on to make a diagnosis publicly on the platform and explains the possible occurrences and offers the caller the solution of consulting a mentor professional. Third, the counselor goes further to connect with the client on social media by make an appointment with the caller publicly the following morning for evaluation (American Psychological Association). Lastly, during the appointment, the counselor meets the caller at the appointed time and they further discuss the friend without the friend's written consent.
Based on issues of confidentiality, the counselor in this scenario did not uphold confidentiality laws while dealing with the caller during the radio interview. The counselor could have used a different approach while handling such a sensitive matter. For a start, the counselor should not have made a diagnosis right up after listening to the caller. After listening in, the counselor should have maybe told the caller that that was a sensitive matter and advised him to seek help. Additionally, the counselor could have avoided making connections on the social media with the caller by making an appointment the following morning to prevent the client but rather she should have advised him to speak to the friend and help him seek the needed examination from a reliable professional closer to them. Additionally, if the counselor was to handle the case herself, them a written consent was necessary from the friend to allow her to discuss the situation with the caller in order to understand the situation better.
In essence, ethical theories play an essential role when professionals, are dealing with clients on confidential matters. The reason is that it is often challenging to know where the boundaries of privacy are drawn while dealing with clients and especially in cases such as on the case study. There ethical theories that can be used to understand different ethical issues. Ethically, every person has their individual scope and limits when it comes to confidentiality. However, there is needed to be a common knowledge of what makes up correct actions for the best interest of the clients. Therefore, when dealing with ethical issues, every profession should consider the four main ethical theories including deontology, utilitarian, rights, and virtues (Broad, 2014). Each theory has an explicit approach when dealing with ethical issues.
According to American Psychological Association (APA), the ethical issues that the counselor may be dealing with are connecting with clients on social media, discussing a person's sensitive information without a written consent. According to APA, privacy is a right that every person whether a client or not is entitled. Is an individual or a patient chooses to share the information with friends and family, the information is up to them. However, the psychologist is bound by a code of ethics to protect the privacy of clients despite the information they choose to share with others. Secondly, psychologists will not normally connect with on social media sites even if the client instigated the request. However, sometimes the professional psychologist may find it necessary to discuss some concerns with relevant people in the patient's life such as the spouse (American Psychological Association). Nevertheless, this should be done only to establish a better understanding of the situation and the psychologist cannot contact anyone without a written consent.
Deontology ethical theory states that individuals should abide by their obligation and duty when involved in a decision-making process in situations where ethics are in play. In this theory, a person is expected to adhere to their obligation towards another person because that is what is considered ethical (Conway & Gawronski, 2013). For instance, if the counselor on the radio interview used deontology when deciding on the right way to handle the caller, she would have first thought of her obligation towards the caller's friend right to privacy. Therefore, she would have considered what is ethically correct and upheld her duty to the person. By this, it would mean avoiding sharing confidential information with the friend without the main victim's consent. Secondly, she would have avoided making a direct diagnosis in on a social media platform. Lastly, she would not have tried to make connections with the caller on social media but rather just advised him to persuade his friend to seek medical attention with any professional he would be comfortable with.
American Psychological Association (APA). Protecting your privacy: Understanding Confidentiality. Retrieved from: http://www.apa.org/helpcenter/confidentiality.aspx
Broad, C. D. (2014). Five types of ethical theory (Vol. 2). Routledge.Conway, P., & Gawronski, B. (2013). Deontological and utilitarian inclinations in moral decision making: a process dissociation approach. Journal of personality and social psychology, 104(2), 216.
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