Group ethics


Every group that is formed is always surrounded by the issue ofethics. It is essential to note that groups are made of differentpeople, with different cultural, religious and political backgrounds.As a consequence, it is inevitable that these members will havedifferent views and opinions which the leader of the group or thetherapist must put into consideration (Corey, 2010). The ethicalissues which arise within a group must be addressed if the group hasto function and achieve its goals. This is mainly essential in grouptherapy where ethical issues are critical for the success of atherapy session.

One of the major ethical issues is confidentiality. It is clear thatin a group therapy, it is hard to maintain confidentiality since thetherapist gathers information and the problems which the clients aresuffering from and then provides counseling to all the clients as agroup. More often than not, the therapist will categorize the clientson the basis of their problems. Clients with similar problems arecategorized together for the purpose of delivering counseling easily.However, this grouping raises the ethical issue of confidentiality(Corey, 2010). It is not all the members in a group who are willingto share their problems with the entire group. Some clients wouldprefer to discuss their issues with a single person whom they trust.In a group, the members would want to share their information orpersonal details with the therapist without other members knowing.However, this always proves to be a great challenge in every groupsetting.

In most groups, the leader of the group may want to impose his orher personal values on the members. Considering that the members to agroup are mainly from different backgrounds, this presents itself asa major ethical issue (Upper &amp Ross, 2012). It is essential tonote that not all the members to a group who might be sharing thepersonal values of the leader or the therapist. This creates anethical issue when the leader or the therapist insists on applyinghis person values without the due regard for the members. Forinstance, the leader may insist on certain communication styles whichare not fit for all the members. This implies that the leader willhave problems with the group members and the group’s objectivesmight not be met. Another ethical issue within groups is mistrustamongst the members and their leader (Corey, 2010). Research hasindicated that the members hardly trust each other with theirpersonal information and as a consequence they are unwilling to sharetheir personal issues. Group therapy may end up being ineffective dueto such mistrust between and among the members.

In a group setting, there is need to have equal treatment for allthe members. If such treatment is not available, this becomes anethical issue. It is paramount for the group leader to always treatall the members equally to ensure that there is no bias and theobjectives of the group are met. This is mainly an ethical issue inmany groups as there are always cases of some members complaining ofmistreatment or the presence of favoritism by the leader. The leadermust observe fairness in terms of services provided, assignment ofduties and rewarding the group members. In group therapy, it isextremely vital for the therapist to treat all the members equally.The therapist must address all the concerns of all the clientsregardless of their cultural, racial or religious backgrounds (Lubin&amp Levitt, 2009). This will ensure that the members are satisfiedwith the decisions made by the therapist. It is essential to notethat in situations where the members feel that the therapist isfavoring some members, the healing process or the recovery processmight be extremely difficult.

The relationships that exist between the group leader and themembers or the therapist and the clients become an ethical issue onceit becomes a dual relationship. It is critical to mention that thereare instances where the leader or the therapist might haverelationships which are unprofessional such as sexual relationshipswith some members. This may compromise on the goals of the group andmay end up with some members leaving the group. Therefore, it isevident that this is an ethical issue that affects groups, as well asgroup therapy.

There are some ethical issues that are unique to the group therapyas opposed to individual therapy. To start with, the issue ofconfidentiality is more prevalent in group therapy as opposed toindividual therapy. This is because in group therapy, information isshared amongst all the members and the therapist. Some members maynot be comfortable with the sharing of information with other members(Corey, 2010). The lack of trust amongst the members also affects thesharing of the information. In individual therapy, the issue ofconfidentiality is still prevalent but not as prevalent as in grouptherapy. Whereas the individual clients may fear to share theirpersonal information with the therapist, research has indicated thatthe individual therapy has little issues regarding confidentiality.

On the issue of duo relationships with the members, research hasindicated that this is mainly common in group therapy than inindividual therapy sessions. This is because in group therapy, thereare many members and the opportunity is high for a member to acceptunprofessional relationship with the therapist. Additionally, theissue of duo relationships does have as much effect on individualtherapy as it has on group therapy (Corey &amp Callanan, 2014). Itis essential to note that in group therapy, members are fighting forthe attention of the therapist. Therefore, when members realize thatthere is a special relationship between the therapist and one of themembers, the effect on the attainment of goals is high. This is anethical issue that is mainly unique to group therapy.

The other ethical issue that is unique to group therapy is theaspect of equal treatment for all. In group therapy, the members arefrom different cultural backgrounds and therefore they have varyingneeds. This might be an ethical issue if the therapist is unable tobalance all the needs of the people in his therapy sessions. Thisissue does not arise in individual therapy since there is only oneclient. The concentration from the therapist is all on the client.

Many therapists would prefer group therapy over individual therapyfor various reasons. To start with, group therapy ensures thatnumerous people can be counseled at the same time. This reduces thetime used for counseling and the cost (Alonso &amp Swiller, 2013).Research has also indicated that the members in group therapynormally learn and advice each other hence fastening the healingprocess. It is essential to note that the members can copy each otherin terms of the strategies they apply to deal with the issuesaffecting them.

Considering that the people in group counseling share issues, theyprovide support for each other. This is critically important as itensures that the members get to realize that they are not alone inthe psychological problem that they are suffering. This is kind ofsupport enhances the healing process. Additionally, group therapy maybe preferred due to the fact that the other members act as mirrorshence making sure the individual members can see themselves throughthe eyes of other individuals.


Alonso, A., &amp Swiller, H. I. (2013).&nbspGroup therapy inclinical practice. Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Press.

Corey, G. &amp Callanan, P. (2014).&nbspIssues and ethics in thehelping professions. Australia: Brooks/Cole/Thomson Learning.

Corey, M. S., (2010).&nbspGroups: Process and practice.Belmont, Calif: Brooks/Cole.

Lubin, B., &amp Levitt, E. E. (2009).&nbspThe clinicalpsychologist: Background, roles, and functions. New Brunswick:Aldine Transaction.

Upper, D., &amp Ross, S. M. (2012).&nbspHandbook of behavioralgroup therapy. New York: Plenum Press.