Social Work If the counselor's sensitive data online is impinged upon, this could present a physical risk to him or her -- or also risk his or her professional reputation.
Safety in Social Work Practice
Social work: Ethics and risks
Risks to confidentiality: Online counseling
Although confidentiality issues can arise in any therapeutic context, in the relatively impersonal format of online counseling, the risks can be more daunting. First of all, there is the risk of the client's email or computer being hacked. Even the client may be relatively careless and not take safeguarding his or her email and password as seriously as he or she would in a real life counseling setting. Before exchanging intimate material with the client the counselor should review privacy expectations and good Internet 'hygiene.'
Online counseling also carries the risk that it might not be taken as seriously by the client in terms of the honesty and commitment demanded of the client. It is presented in a format that mimics that of casual interactions online, such as Facebook or a message board, even though its intentions are meant to be just as serious as face-to-face counseling. Private data, such as the client's substance abuse, may be exchanged between client and counselor. The client should be aware that his or her privacy expectations regarding online counseling are comparable to those in a more traditional setting.
Online counseling: Risks to counselor
There is also the risk that the counselor's personal data could be hacked or the counselor could become a target of Internet violence and harassment. Having a separate email for ...
If the counselor wishes to conduct his or her business online, it is incumbent upon the professional to seek out IT assistance so he or she can assure clients of absolute confidentiality. Just as physical, paper files must be well-secured, so must any data transmitted or stored in a virtual context. The counselor must also be careful to guard his or her private, non-professional Internet persona (on Facebook or other social media sites) to ensure that clients do not have the temptation of harassing him or her or even silently gathering information about the counselor, unbeknownst to the counselor. For example, if a client recovering from sexual abuse discovered the counselor was on an online dating site, this might be disturbing to the client, even if the therapist was simply engaged in normal social dating.
Friending and social media website
Early on in the counseling relationship, the counselor should explain why friending on social media is inappropriate between counselor and client. This should be done before the client makes such a request, so as not to offend the client or create friction in the relationship.
Concerns about verbal assault
When a counselor is dealing with a potentially violent client, he or she should have a clear plan to seek refuge. First, someone should be contacted and informed of the situation. If the other party does not hear from the counselor within a certain amount of time and cannot contact the counselor he or she should call the police. The counselor should meet the client in a safe area, if at all possible, such as an office where another person is present and can be signaled to in the case of outright violence.
Protection from natural disasters
Just like any other place of business, the counseling…
If the counselor's sensitive data online is impinged upon, this could present a physical risk to him or her -- or also risk his or her professional reputation.
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