This paper will discuss privacy and confidentiality in the context of child and family counseling and research. It will cover ethical issues dealing with privacy and confidentiality of the child and family during counseling. It will also cover longitudinal design research dealing with child and family privacy and confidentiality. There are competing interests in the ethical issues when dealing with privacy and confidentiality, those of the child, the family, who for this paper will be the mother and father, and the therapist.
The mother and father want to come out of the counseling session with a “cure” or plan to get them of their child on the road to recovery, justifying their reason to be there. They both want privacy and confidentiality in what is said to the therapist whether in privacy or together. The child is probably too young to know what privacy or confidentiality is in the concept of this paper but they still deserve these rights. If they do understand them, then they to would want the same privacy and confidentiality as the parents.
The therapist wants the family and child to trust her/him and to open up about the issue at hand. The therapist also wants to help the family through their problems but at what cost to the family or child in sharing the information gathered during the sessions. The ethical issue is should the therapist give a child the same privacy and confidentiality as the parents if the child is not competent enough to sign an informed consent? The therapist in this case should use the utilitarianism theory. The principle non malfeasance is to prohibit the infliction of harm, injuries or death.
The therapist would not be the one that physically would do this but the actions of what she/he does could cause this; ultimately, the therapist could cause emotional harm. If the child told the therapist of a secret that the parents wanted no one to know about such as past experiences with the law, drugs, or medical conditions, and the therapist told the parents this could cause emotional or physical harm by the parents to the child. This is why the therapist should not give any information to the parents that might cause harm to the child.
The child trusted the therapist and the therapist is obligated to up-hold the privacy and confidentiality of the child. The beneficence principle is the obligation of the health care professional to seek the well being or benefit of the patient. The benefit of the child is for the therapist to keep the privacy and confidentiality of the child to insure the well being of the child. By telling the parents what the child said would not be looking out for the well being of the child. It could emotionally or physically harm the patient.
As you can see by not giving the child the privacy or confidentiality they deserve could cause harm to the child. It is in the best interest of the therapist to give the child the privacy and confidentiality. If not, the child will probably not open up to this therapist again which could cause more harm to the family and child by not being treated in the best possible way. A longitudinal designs research involves multiple data collection periods initiated as early as the prenatal period and continued through adolescence or adulthood.
The privacy and confidentiality of the data collected is left up to the parents to decide. Once the child reaches the age of understanding he/she can be responsible of their privacy and confidentiality rights. The interested parties are the family, child, and researchers. The parents are concerned about what is best for their child and to find a “cure” for the child’s illness. The child wants to get well but also wants to be able to make their own decisions when they are competent enough to do so.
The researchers are interested in finding a cure to the disease that the child has and to prevent future children from getting the disease. The dilemma is the parents have made all the decisions of privacy and confidentiality based on the data collected up to this point. What happens when the child gets old enough to make his/her own decisions and wants to stop and get rid of the data collected to protect his/her privacy and confidentiality? Should the researchers get rid of the data collected or keep on using the data to better the world? For this, one would use deontology theory.
The principle autonomy is the right to self determination. If the child decides to stop and wants the data to be destroyed then it should be. This is the right of the child and all the data is part of their life. The researchers would have to have the consent from the child to use the data and they don’t. Respect for person states that a person should never be treated as the means. This means that the researchers need to follow the child’s wishes and not the future of the research. To continue with the research would not be respecting the child.
Thus the researches should stop as requested, if not and he/she were to find out their wishes were not respected it could cause harm. Distributive justice is giving a person what is due. The child has now reached the age where he/she can make the determination of their privacy and confidentiality. So the researcher should give the child the equality of the decision as they did the parents when it benefited them. As one can see, by not giving the child the right to privacy and confidentiality of the data collected it could cause harm to the child emotionally.
This is a slippery slope for the therapist. By not giving the child their afforded rights could hinder other children and parents from entering research programs. This could have an impact on the world because research is needed to cure diseases. In conclusion, this paper discussed the privacy and confidentiality in the context of child and family counseling and research. It covered the ethical issues with privacy and confidentiality of the child and family during counseling.
It also covered longitudinal designs research dealing with child and family privacy and confidentiality. Margolin, J. , Chien, D. , Duman, S. E. and Fauchier, A. (2005). Ethical Issues in Couple and Family Research (Abstract Only). Journal of Family Psychology 19 (1), pg. 157. Retrieved on November 17, 2007 from Proquest. Fisher, Celia B. , Privacy and Ethics in Pediatric Environmental Health Research—Part II: Protecting Families and Communities; http://www. ehponline. org/members/2006/9004/9004. html#intro