In a two- to three- page paper (excluding title page and reference pages), describe the ethics and issues related to the use of the Internet to provide mental health services. Include guidelines from the National Association of Social Workers (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site. and American Psychological Association (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site. websites as well as the “Code of Ethics (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.” article for use of the Internet. Additionally, summarize the positions on practicing in states where the provider is not licensed, and the risks and benefits for the client and the professional.
1.Must be two to three double-spaced pages in length (not including title and reference pages) and formatted according to APA style as outlined in your approved style guide.
2.Must include a cover page with the following: a.Name of paper
c.Course name and number
3.Must include an introductory paragraph with a succinct thesis.
4.Must address the topic of the paper with critical thought.
5.Must end with a conclusion that reaffirms your thesis.
6.Must use at least three scholarly sources, published within the last 10 years.
7.Must include a separate reference page, formatted according to APA
Internet and Mental Health Issues
Over the recent years, internet has become a new medium for the providing mental health services and information. As the technological innovations develop rapidly, the mental health practitioners should have a cyber presence to meet the needs of the clients. Legal and regulatory agencies should create relevant guidelines to regulate the online mental health services. The professionals rely on the internet to provide online psychotherapeutic intervention to the various clients based on their needs (Sansom-Daly, et al., 2016). The online practice is complex and often will require the professionals to understand the relevant legal standards relating to e-therapy services. As a result, the ethical issues associated with the provision of online mental health services is significant and all professionals should be ethically responsible.
The critical ethical issues related to the provision of online mental health services includes the limits of competence, avoidance of harm to the clients, confidentiality, avoiding deceptive statements, informed consent, and the process of soliciting fees from the clients. The unlicensed mental health professionals raise questions over their competence. The competence of the online mental health professionals should be based on the relevant guidelines. Their skills and education qualifications should be verified to ensure that they competent to deliver on the counselling services (Lal, & Adair, 2014). Also, the online mental professionals should avoid potential harm to their clients. The rights and privileges of the clients should be protected through the online therapy services. Confidentiality of the client’s information will help in protecting the rights. It is difficult for the clients to be assured of confidentiality when receiving e-Therapy.
Moreover, deceptive statements should be avoided to help giving honest information to the clients. Deceptive information might hurt the clients through confusion of the appropriate interventions during difficult situations. According to the National Association of Social Workers (n.d), the professionals should follow the legal standards and guidelines on the provision of professional mental health services. Other ethical concerns on informed consent should involve open communication and disclosure with the clients. It would involve communicating to the clients about their professionalism and ability to address their issues.
Solicitation of fees should follow the set out federal and state regulations and laws to avoid unethical and illegal practice. According to American Psychological Association (n.d), it calls for the need to enact federal legislation to improve on the e-Practice standards. The APA lays out relevant ethical guidelines on the need to comply with relevant legal standards to reduce the risks of lawsuits and potentially facing criminal charges (Lal, & Adair, 2014). Licensure and ethical decision-making are important part of the code of ethics to reduce the risks of prosecution.
The licensure of the persons practicing in mental health services is a complex issue. The regulation of mental health counselling is different from one state to another. For example, in Massachusetts, the state regulates the use of term “mental health counselling.” However, psychotherapy is not regulated (Sansom-Daly, et al., 2016). In most states, the use of mental health counselling term is heavily regulated and the practitioners should obtain licensure. Thus, it is illegal for non-licensed persons to work as mental health counsellors.
However, the practice of the unlicensed mental health professionals has some advantages and disadvantages. The advantages include that it makes it possible for the clients to obtain cheaper mental health counselling at an informal setting. The professional will be able to earn some income from advising the clients without ethical requirements. However, the risks of unlicensed mental health counsellors are that it prevents the clients from using their health insurance as unlicensed providers cannot insurance (Peek, et al., 2015). The confidentiality for client’s personal information from the patient/client privilege is limited as the unlicensed counselors will not follow the set ethical code. The professionals face the risks of imprisonment for the potential violation of the ethical code and rights.
In summary, there are exists valid ethical issues and concerns on the implementation of the online mental health services in the society today. The ethical issues include the informed consent from the clients, limits of competence, the potential harm to clients, avoiding providing deceptive statements, and confidentiality among others. Ethically, the harming the clients would be a serious moral violation that undermines the psychologists ethical code of conduct. The APA calls for the adherence into the relevant federal laws and regulations. The adoption of the e-therapy technology should uphold the relevant ethical code of conduct and guidelines for providing mental counselling services.
American Psychological Association (n.d) Ethical and Professional Standards. Retrieved from https://www.counseling.org/knowledge-center/ethics.
Lal, S., & Adair, C. E. (2014). E-mental health: a rapid review of the literature. Psychiatric Services, 65(1), 24-32.
National Association of Social Workers (NASW).(n.d) Social Work Ethics & Law Institute. Retrieved from https://www.socialworkers.org/
Peek, H. S., Richards, M., Muir, O., Chan, S. R., Caton, M., & MacMillan, C. (2015). Blogging and social media for mental health education and advocacy: A review for psychiatrists. Current Psychiatry Reports, 17(11), 88.
Sansom-Daly, U. M., Wakefield, C. E., McGill, B. C., Wilson, H. L., & Patterson, P. (2016). Consensus among international ethical guidelines for the provision of videoconferencing-based mental health treatments. JMIR Mental Health, 3(2).