The Importance of Confidentiality in a Group and
Ensuring Confidentiality Within and Outside of a Group Format
Christina M. Bell
Camden County College
The purpose of this paper is to explain the importance of confidentiality in group counseling. Additionally this paper will discuss how a counselor can ensure confidentiality within and outside of a group format.
Importance of Confidentiality in a Group
Confidentiality in group counseling is mandatory as it is both an ethical and a legal issue. Federal law (Title 42, Part 2 or 42 C.F.R., Part 2, Confidentiality of Alcohol and Drug Abuse Patient Records) guarantees strict confidentiality of information about all people receiving substance ...view middle of the document...
Counselors should frequently remind group members of their obligations in this regard. Most should be happy to respect this as they most likely divulged information that they would prefer to be kept private.
Maintaining privacy is important for the counselor as well as their reputation as a professional able to maintain a confidential environment is at stake. The organization they represent could suffer from a tarnished reputation or potentially damaging legal issue if personal client information is divulged.
Group counseling sessions work best when there is open and honest communication between members. Group members need to feel comfortable with sharing their personal thoughts, feelings, and experiences without worrying about their privacy being violated. One reason groups work so well is that they engage therapeutic forces like affiliation, support, and peer confrontation which is why it is important for a group leader to build trust and establish a good rapport with group members.
Ensuring Confidentiality Within a Group Format
Keeping confidences in a group setting can be a challenge for a counselor. Counselors have to maintain their clients’ privacy and also are faced with effectively convincing the group members to do so as well. Group leaders should specify at the beginning of a group the limits on confidentiality. For example, group leaders should let the members know they may be required to testify against them in court unless the leader is entitled to privileged communications. This means they cannot break the confidence of a client unless in their judgment, the client is a danger to himself or others; or may do serious harm to someone else (Corey & Corey, 1992).
Group leaders should take additional measures to help ensure confidentiality within the group format. For example, the leader can request that all cell phones be turned off and put away until group is over. This practice can help reassure clients that they are not being photographed or recorded without their knowledge or authorization. Announcements should also be made periodically to emphasize the importance of confidentiality at various stages of the group’s development.
Even though members of the group understand the importance of protecting their peer’s anonymity, some members may feel the need to talk about what is going on in group, outside of the group in an effort to heal. To maintain...