The Evolution of Guidelines for Online Counselling and Psychotherapy: The Development of Ethical Practice

The Evolution of Guidelines for Online Counselling and Psychotherapy: The Development of Ethical Practice

Stephen Goss (Metanoia Institute, UK) and Kate Anthony (Online Therapy Institute, UK)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61350-204-4.ch008
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The history and development of guidelines on the ethics of providing online counselling and guidance are considered. Some issues the authors have found to be of particular importance are highlighted with reference to particular publications as exemplars of the ongoing development of ethical practice in this field. Changes in ethical guidelines produced by the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) are examined to elucidate the evolution in ethical thinking and practice that has been necessitated by the continual rapid development of technological applications relevant to mental health care that have typified the field. The chapter ends with a look to the advent of Web 2.0 philosophies and the need for practitioners to remain constantly vigilant with regard to their work.
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Reactions To Technology In Counselling, Psychotherapy, And Guidance

Placing any form of technology between the practitioner and client appears to be met with strong and yet highly polarised responses. As early as the 1940s, Carl Rogers was writing enthusiastically about the advantages of using tape recordings of counselling sessions to improve client care and enhance practitioner training and supervision (Rogers, 1942). Even before that, using the available communication ‘technology’ of his time, Sigmund Freud carried out his analysis of ‘Little Hans’ by letter (cited Rothschild, 1997) and self-analysis through correspondence with Fliess (cited Kaplan, 1997). Computers and other forms of technology such as live video links have been used in several kinds of guidance, counselling, and mental health care, including psychiatry, since at least the mid 1960s (e.g. Cogswell, 1967; Cogswell & Estavan, 1965; Weizenbaum, 1966,) with encouraging research emerging then and in the 1970s (e.g. Bennet, et al., 1978; Del Vecchio, et al., 1970; Dwyer, 1973; Solow, et al., 1971) right through to the current century. Despite this extensive history, reactions to the idea do not appear to have changed substantially. It is often still treated as if it were something new, unexpected and perhaps even out of place in a profession that is based entirely on the quality of a human-human relationship.

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