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Aca Code of Ethics

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In the world in which we live, there is a major increase in the use of the process of Group Counseling in all sectors of society that include schools, colleges, community mental health clinics and other human service agencies. Given the complexity of group counseling, many schools and school psychologists are interested in legal and ethical issues impacting group interventions. From the attainment of appropriate consents for counseling to ethical dilemmas, the challenges involved in direct services are large.

Ethical issues in a group play a major role in the outcome of the group's overall success (Crespi, & Howe 2002). Group Counseling mainly involves a small group of members who come together forming their own specific goals, discuss issues, and/or problems, provide empathy and support to the others, while also attempting to change their self defeating behaviors. The group members are also assisted in developing their existing

skills in dealing with interpersonal problems. The role of the group counselor involves facilitating interaction among the members, help them learn from one another, assist them in establishing personal goals and also provide continuous empathy and support to the members and also follow-up to determine if the members have carried their learning experience from the group and practiced it in the outside world.

The leader must demonstrate to all the members' honesty and respect as well as provide information about the group in the initial session. The information should include a clear statement regarding the purpose of the group, ground rules, the group leader's introduction, issue of confidentiality, and the rights and responsibilities of group members. It also involves stressing the responsibilities of the group members which include consistency, punctuality, being willing to openly talk about his or herself, providing feedback to other members, and maintaining confidentiality. While a member may desire to leave a group, he or she should provide a valid reason to the group leader for opting out and not just leave without prior notice and explanation ( Venkatesh, Sujatha 2006). Confidentiality is one of the key norms of behavior in a group. It should be clearly explained in the initial session by the group leader to all the members and also the situation when confidentiality can likely be broken in certain cases (Venkatesh, Sujatha 2006).

A myriad of personal characteristics are extremely essential for the group leader in order to promote growth in the member's lives. The leaders themselves should live a healthy/growth oriented life. A group leader being emotionally present means they are able to share the joy and pain that other members experience. This helps in being empathetic and compassionate to the group members (Venkatesh, Sujatha 2006). The group leader should be confident within oneself and facilitate its member's towards empowerment. The group leader must also be able to openly accept his faults, while confronting others. When the group leader is able to accept his or her faults, the members are more trusting, and in turn become more open about their own situation. A genuine rapport within the group is very important in the outcome of the overall process.

All of the major ethical issues that pertain to individual counseling also apply to group work, but these issues can be more complex in group work because of the significant differences between the two modalities. In addition, ethical issues that are unique to group work, such as the screening of potential group participants and outside-of-group socializing among members, need to be addressed. Counselors, who are considering forming or leading a group, need to have adequate training, experience, qualifications, as well as multicultural competence. Careful planning, recruiting members, pre-group screening, and ensuring the informed consent of members are also important steps to complete prior to the formation of a group. Counselors who are engaged in group work should be very knowledgeable as it relates to the contents of the ACA code and both sets of ASGW guidelines.

Group workers who conduct psychotherapeutic groups should also familiarize themselves with the ethical guidelines of the American Group Psychotherapy Association and National Registry of Certified Group Psychotherapists (2000). Group leaders who conduct psychotherapeutic groups should be familiar with the ethical guidelines of the American Group Psychotherapy Association and National Registry of Certified Group Psychotherapists (2000). As a group leader, you have ethical responsibilities that affect every aspect of your work with groups, from the planning stage through termination and follow-up (American Counseling



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