Legal and Ethical Considerations Essay

Post an explanation of how legal and ethical considerations for group and family therapy differ from those for individual therapy.

Although group and family therapy, as well as individual therapy, are both concerned with using talk therapy to address existing psychiatric and mental problem, the legal and ethical considerations for the two types of therapies differ. That is because whereas one type of therapy addresses the individual needs of a singular patient in one session, the other type of therapy addresses the plural needs of many clients in one session. This difference between the two types of therapies has also presented consequential legal and ethical implications (Bitter, 2014). In this respect, legal and ethical considerations for group and family therapy differ from those for individual therapy. Legal and Ethical Considerations Essay

The first ethical difference is noted in the therapist’s capacity to handle the clients’ needs. Although most therapies can address the needs of individual’s through individual therapy, the same cannot be said for group and family therapy since the presence of many individuals in a single session adds new modalities. The result is that therapists offering group and family therapy require additional qualifications and competence that is verified through certification. To be more precise, therapists offering group therapy must have the capacity to address the complex unique issues they present. Without the ability to handle the complex needs presented by groups and families, the therapist would not be allowed to handle the group needs and doing so without qualification would amount to a breach of the duty of care. This has ethical implications since the therapist is morally bound to provide the best possible care, and it also has legal implications since a therapist without such qualifications would be considered to have acted criminally (Welfel, 2013).

The second ethical difference concerns informed consent. For individual therapy, the informed consent is typically voluntary since the individual understands that he or she needs the therapy and is best served through active participation. On the other hand, the consent provided for group and family therapy may not be considered voluntary and could in fact be considered passive or even coerced in some cases. This is especially true when the persons attending the therapy have different levels of authority so that the persons with low levels of authority and power can be pressured or coerced into attending the therapy. The coercion and unwilling participation is ethically frowned upon since the essence of therapy to achieve the desired outcomes is willing and voluntary participation (Bitter, 2014). Legal and Ethical Considerations Essay

The third ethical difference concerns confidentiality. Individual therapy involves the therapist working with a single client thereby making it easier to guarantee that any information presented would easily be kept confidential. The same cannot be said for family and group therapy since each session includes more than one client and the confidentiality of any disclosures cannot be guaranteed. That is because it would only take one individual to disclose the information outside the therapy for confidentiality to be violated. The implication is that although information would be required to facilitate treatment, the therapist cannot guarantee confidentiality thereby making it difficult to offer any assurances to the individual with the required information (Bitter, 2014).

In addition to the three ethical differences, a legal difference also presents itself. This is particularly the case when consideration jurisdictional implications and local requirements. Each state has additional practice requirements that supplement the federal requirements that cover all the states. Before practicing as a therapist, there is a need to identify the relevant legislation governing practice. Typically, the legislative requirements for qualification to offer therapy to groups and families will differ for the requirements for individual therapy to include licensure and certification. Any therapist who goes on to practice without meeting the minimum qualifications for practice can be subjected to legal proceedings that could include a prison term, fines and practicing license being withdrawn (Feldman, 2012). Other than the issue of legal qualification, another legal issue is privacy as presented by HIPAA legislation. The legislation outlines how information collected during therapy should be handled, particularly in terms of authorized access, storage and retrieval. The therapist must be clear about privacy concerns and expectations (Wenzl, 2018). As a result, legal and ethical considerations for group and family therapy differ from those for individual therapy. Legal and Ethical Considerations Essay

Then, explain how these differences might impact your therapeutic approaches for clients in group and family therapy.

As a therapist, it is important to be aware of the unique ethical and legal requirements for practice when offering therapy services to groups and families. Firstly, the therapist should have the competence and qualification to offer such services. This should include having the required theoretical and practical knowledge. Secondly, the therapist should address all suspected cases of coerced consent by approaching and convincing the concerned persons that the therapy is necessary. Thirdly, the therapist should offer opportunities for clients to offer confidential information away from the other members of the group or family so as to avoid conflict, ensure full disclosure and guarantee that the information is kept confidential. Fourthly, the therapist should meet all the local and federal requirements for practice that include licensure and certification. Finally, the therapist should be cognizant of the privacy requirements with regards to how the information is accessed, stored and retrieved. The mentioned conditions identify the practice requirements.


Bitter, J. (2014). Theory and practice of family therapy and counseling (2nd ed.). Belmont, CA: Brooks/Cole.

Feldman, A. (2012). Understanding health care reform: bridging the gap between myth and reality. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press.

Welfel, E. (2013). Ethics in counseling & psychotherapy (5th ed.). Belmont, CA: Brooks/Cole.

Wenzl, M. (2018). 4 U.S. Laws influencing the patient experience. Retrieved from and Ethical Considerations Essay

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