The Fundamentals of Group Ethics
What are some of the current topics regarding ethics within groups? A number of elements remain current concerning group work. Group worker preparation and credentials, group worker knowledge, understanding group purpose, multicultural/diversity awareness, confidentiality, and the benefits of group therapy versus individual therapy to name a few. Completing degree requirements does not qualify a group worker to lead a group. The group worker should have specialized training in-group work, particularly in the area specific to the group to be led. Group members should have a clear understanding of the purpose of the group before participating. Multicultural training helps the group worker understand group members from different backgrounds better. Group workers are responsible for utilizing confidentiality at all times and should encourage group members to do the same outside of the group. Individuals can benefit from group work, however, it is also vital for the group worker to understand, not everyone should be a member of a group
The Fundamentals of Individual and Group Ethics
The need for mental health services is rapidly expanding. Counseling services can prove to be beneficial to certain individuals. There are also times when an individual may also benefit from group therapy. Group counseling offers means to assist more clients economically who share similar problems and concerns (Jacobs et.al, 2012). More resources, sense of belonging, incorporating new behaviors, and learning through listening and observing others are the various ways the group process can be beneficial (Jacobs et.al, 2012). Working with individuals and groups can offer participants life-changing skills and knowledge. Because of this, it is necessary for group workers to operate within the ethical framework established for the group process. Leader Preparation and Qualifications
The Association for Specialists in Group Work (ASGW), a division of the American Counseling Association, is an area specifically for professionals whose interests are to specialize in group work (Thomas & Pender, 2007). This association outlines best practices or ethical guidelines for group workers. Group workers are defined as mental health professionals who utilize a group modality as an intervention when working with diverse populations (Thomas & Pender, 2007, p. 111). The group leader has a responsibility to ensure he or she has the proper credentials and preparation to facilitate a group (Jacobs et.al, 2012). A lack of practice in this area can lead to an unethical and legal situation (Younggren et.al, 2011). Before the group process starts, it is important for the mental health professional to scrutinize their personal strengths and weaknesses and how this would have an effect on group members (Thomas & Pender, 2007). In addition to self-awareness, group workers should be alert to how their cultural values affect group work. The ASGW states, “Group workers have a basic knowledge of groups and the principles of group dynamics, and are able to perform the core group competencies” (Thomas & Pender, 2007, p. 115). Conducting group work is serious business and following the guidelines set forth by the ASGW is imperative to a successful start. Studies have shown a decrease in unethical behavior, possibly due to the increased emphasis placed on ethics training in graduate programs and continuing education (Wierzbicki et. al, 2012). The last component outlined by the ASGW in relation to competency in-group work is to ensure the group worker is adequately trained and understands the specialty area chosen for group practice (Thomas & Pender, 2007). Preparing for group work weighs as heavily as having proper group work credentials. Group workers are responsible for screening prospective group members, facilitate informed consent, obtain consent when...
References: American Counseling Association. (2005). ACA code of ethics. In ACA code of ethics. : Author.
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