After reviewing the case of Dr. R. Ian Lyne, in which he has been communicating with his patients through email on a more frequent basis rather than in person, I came to the conclusion that there are many things that I would do differently. Because of Dr. Lyne’s decision to communicate by way of email there are many ethical issues that could arise. This case study will explore ethical codes, possible ethical issues, and possible solutions to any issue that Dr. Lyne could face. While Dr. Lyne may have found responding to clients via email as “high quality service”, I believe that responding via email could become controversial while discussing therapeutic issues.
There are several ethical codes that address the use of electronics. While using electronics one must inform the client of the limitations, and risks. In Section H of the ACA Code of Ethics booklet, the H.4.a. Benefits and Limitations section (p. 18) reads,
“Counselors inform clients of the benefits and limitations of using technology applications in the provision of counseling services. Such technologies include, but are not limited to, computer hardware and/ or software, telephones and applications, social media and Internet-based applications and other audio and/or video communication, or data storage devices or media” (American Counseling Association , 2014). In Dr. Lyne’s case he should’ve informed his clients of the benefits and limitations of communicating via email before he decided to respond to them. I also believe that this ethical code should’ve been presented as Dr. Lyne made his email accessible to his students. Once his email became accessible he should’ve discussed perimeters of confidentiality, limitations, and risks that could occur during the therapy sessions. In Section B of the ACA code of ethics booklet, the introduction section (p. 6) states, “Counselors recognize that trust is a cornerstone of the counseling relationship. Counselors aspire to earn the trust of clients by creating an ongoing partnership, establishing and upholding appropriate boundaries, and maintaining confidentiality. Counselors communicate the parameters of confidentiality in a culturally competent manner” (American Counseling Association , 2014). Once a client trust is gained, it is the therapist obligation to make sure that the client’s confidentiality is within the code of ethics. Because Dr. Lyne is discussing therapeutic issues via email he should take the proper steps to assure himself of all possible issues.
While distant counseling is not prohibited, there are still many ethical issues that could transpire while communicating at a distance. Some of Dr. Lyne’s clients took the initiative to begin to email him about previous therapy sessions. There is a chance that his email could be hacked into and/or compromised. There is also a chance that he could respond back to his clients and reach someone else; due to him accidently inputting the email address...