Saturday, October 7, 2017

Research Paper: Privacy and Confidentiality in School Counseling

Confidentiality is one of the top priorities for school counselors. In the article “Privacy and Confidentiality in School Counseling,” Harriet L. Glosoff and Robert H. Pate raise the question of how to maintain a students’ trust, but still do what is possible to keep students safe and parents informed? Maintaining confidentiality when a minor is your client, however, is much more difficult than when counseling adults. Counselors at school must keep in mind their ethical and legal responsibilities to their clients, parents, and the school systems. In certain cases, school districts or administrators have policies that require counselors to obtain parents’ permission before beginning counseling students. A parent has the option to not allow a minor student to use a school counselor, or specifically forbid the counselor to accept the minor as a client. In any case, as long as the parent hasn’t stated that to the counselor or the school, counseling is then considered to be a regular service. Legally the counselor can see a minor student without parental consent if this has not occurred.

With all the parameters that are associated with counseling a minor, it is very difficult to maintain trust and have an open dialogue with a client where he or she feels free to say anything without the fear of disclosure to their parents. If a child begins to think that what he or she discloses during a counseling session will be discussed with their parents, the purpose of the counseling will be diminished. The minor will not be completely open and forthright and the objective of the session will not be met.


As described in the article, neither the Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice nor the Ethical Standards for School Counselors describe or define the term minor. Typically, at the age of 18, an individual is no longer considered to be a minor. Therefore, school counselors encounter 18 as the age when their clients are legally considered to be mature and have full control of their privacy rights (Glosoff, & Pate, Jr., 2002). So, who is the true client for the counselors- is it the minor or the parents? Even with all the legal issues surrounding this topic, from an ethical point of view, the counselor’s client is the student, and it is critical for their needs to be addressed without any repercussions. The parents’ needs definitely should be considered, but the needs of the students and their well being should come above all others. There are certain exceptions where, ethically, school counselors are required to disclose information if their clients engage in certain behaviors that present clear and imminent danger to themselves and other people. From a legal standpoint, they're required to report known or suspected child abuse or neglect, and they're also obligated to respond to subpoenas and participate in other legal proceedings dictated by the courts (Lazovsky, 2008).

The article also suggests a few measures that school counselors could use in order to safeguard the privacy of their student clients. In my opinion, one of the most important steps is to make sure that all the stakeholders, the parents, the teachers and the counselees are well aware in advance of the confidentiality issues in school counseling. In addition, a school environment can be very hard for a student to properly cope with. There are many cases of bullying and harassment reported in the school environment. Another idea that could be very useful for school counselors in order to protect their client’s privacy is to make sure that the identity of the counselee is also protected. This can be done by a proper setup of the counselor’s office, for example, when the exit door does not coincide with the entrance door. Consequently, the students can feel more comfortable to ask for counseling. They will feel assured that they won’t be seen while seeking help to improve their mental health. This can be very soothing and encouraging. Making school counseling more approachable can increase the success of the counseling activity. Trust is a key element, especially when it comes to counseling minors. Many times it is not the method employed by the counselor. It is the trust at the foundation of the counselor client relationship that leads to the so called beneficence when it comes to helping the client and society.

I felt that the ethical implications of counseling are of the utmost importance while reading the article. Balancing numerous facets within school counseling does really seem like a challenge counselors must engage throughout their activities, almost on a daily basis. Being very well informed about the legal aspects that are involved becomes essential in order to ensure proper decision making in the case that confidential data must be disclosed. I also find it very important that counselors are well aware and adhere to the standard of minimal disclosure by sharing only what is essential and relevant to the case.

Another very important aspect of ethics within school counseling is continuously taking into account that the counselor must not, under any circumstances, impose goals or values on their counselees. This should especially be underlined when it comes to counseling minors, since childhood and adolescence are the ages at which one is most easily influenced. These are also the times when one has to tackle confusion, acceptance and decision making regarding the future. Therefore, the counselor should represent a stable, consistent source of objective support throughout the changes the counselees are going through. Most importantly, the counselor should avoid being judgmental at all times. Attention should be paid to not discriminate children through offering the same type of assistance, regardless the child`s background, religion or provenience.

Estimating when a child becomes mature enough to understand the concept of secrets is also a challenge counselors might have to face during their practice. That is why it becomes very important that the counselor manages to create a trusting and therapeutic climate in which people can autonomously search for solutions. Autonomy refers to the ability of the clients to make their own choices and choose their own directions within the counseling sessions. This could also represent a great challenge for the counselor when it comes to working with children. They must be vigilant at all times and ready to discuss the progress of the student during the counseling sessions. All the relevant stakeholders within this very special counseling relationship should be involved.

The ideal way to prevent problems from appearing is to provide the student, the parents and the relevant school personnel with appropriate information about confidentiality even before the school year begins. Also, the information should be kept visible and available at all times. Information about the benefits of counseling for students should be also made available through means such as presentations during class, flyers and posters.

Warning!!! All free online research papers, research paper samples and example term papers on School Counseling topics are plagiarized and cannot be fully used in your high school, college or university education.

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Reference Page
Glosoff, H. L. & Pate, Jr., R. H. (2002). Privacy and Confidentiality in School Counseling. Professional School Counseling, 6. Retrieved from, R. (2008). Maintaining Confidentiality with Minors: Dilemmas of School Counselors. Professional School Counseling, Retrieved from